Remembering the Artist: Manuel Conde at 100

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Cultural Center of the Philippines Arthouse Cinema, in cooperation with the Society of Filipino Archivists for Film (SOFIA), the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the UP Los Baños Foundation Inc. recently concluded Manuel Conde @ 100 at the CCP Tanghalang Manuel Conde last October 8, 2016. The three-Saturday event was held to commemorate National Artist for Film, Manuel Conde’s birth centennial who was born on October 9, 1915. For the event, three of his most celebrated films were screened: Genghis Khan (Sept. 24), Krus na Kawayan (Oct. 1) and Venganza (Oct. 8).

Manuel Conde opened the gateway to the world stage for Philippine cinema with his film Genghis Khan becoming the first Filipino film to be acclaimed at an international film festival in Venice, Italy in 1952. Conde is regarded as the first independent film maker doing independent films on a very limited budget when he is not making commercial films for LVN Pictures, one of the biggest film production outfits during that time. Film critiques describe Conde’s films as “ahead of their time”.

A short lecture was given by Film Scholar and “The Cinema of Manuel Conde” author Dr. Nicanor Tiongson on how Conde’s film, Venganza drew inspiration from Jose Rizal’s El Filibusterismo and also spoke about the cultural symbolisms within the film. Dr. Tiongson praised the flourish of regional cinema in today's generation. 

Eldest child of Manuel Conde, multi-faceted actor and director, Jun Urbano who is best known for his portrayal as Mr. Shooli in the 90’s political satire Mongolian Barbecue was also present and shared a few anecdotes about his father.

“We never expected for him to be a National Artist. He just made films for money. Pero malikot ang isip ng daddy. Ang klase ng mga pelikulang gusto niyang gawin ay hindi kumikita.” the always humorous Urbano Jr. shared with the crowd. 

The event concluded with the awarding of Manuel Conde Centennial Commemorative stamp by PhilPost Assistant Postmaster General Luis Carlos to the Urbano Family.   

Dr. Nicanor Tiongson

Mr. Jun Urbano

NCCA Chairman and Subcommission on the Arts Head Felipe M. de Leon Jr.

(L-R): NCCA Chairman de Leon, PhilPost Assistant Postmaster General Luis Carlos, Manuela Urbano, Jun Urbano

SOFIA's Mr. Teddy Co also presented Mr. Urbano DVD versions of the films screened during the event.

According to Mr. Co, out of all the National Artists for Cinema, Conde has the least number of films archived. Unfortunately, film archiving came late to our country. Almost all prints of his movies were already lost. Those are part of Philippine cinema's history and culture we can never get back. SOFIA's advocacy is to preserve our country's cinematic heritage. To know more about SOFIA, check out their Facebook page and site here.

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