On Poetics and Practice of Film Criticism in the Philippines - A Roundtable Discussion


On March 19, 2014, the Office of Research and Publication (ORP) invited seven critics to a round table discussion (RTD) to reflect on the changing landscape of film criticism and to listen on their thoughts on the history and development of film criticism in the Philippines. The film critics were asked to address the following broad questions:

  • What has been the history of film criticism like in the Philippines?
  • What have been the principles and presuppositions of your own critical practice, through the years?
  • In your view as a critic, where is film criticism now or where should it be going?

Three of the critics, Bienvenido Lumbera, Nicanor G. Tiongson, and Rolando B. Tolentino, are members of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (MPP). The MPP, the first organized film critics group in the Philippines, was established in 1976, with the avowed agenda of “making audiences more critical of the films which, whether they realize it or not, have an impact on their lives” and “giving producers systematic feedback on their products.” They give out the annual Urian Awards, and, apart from their respective books, some of their film writings are collected in the Urian Anthology series (1983, 2001, 2010, 2013). Three other critics, Patrick D. Flores, Eulalio R. Guieb III, and Choy S. Pangilinan, are members of the Young Critics Circle (YCC) Film Desk, a group which also holds an annual citation in film achievement. The YCC, founded in 1990, “stakes its claims in advocating a strategic and interventive agenda for a transdisciplinary film criticism that is responsive to the needs of the moment and responsible for its future aspirations.” Some of their film writings are collected in Sampung Taong Sine: Philippine Cinema 1990-1999 (2002) and Sining ng Sineng Filipino (2009). The last participating critic is independent film scholar, Nick Deocampo, who was editor of Movement magazine in the 1980s and 1990s and author of three books on film history.

The papers that the critics read in the RTD were subsequently revised and are published here for the first time, according to their original alphabetical sequence of presentation. The video coverage of the RTD, which includes the open forum with the audience, is available for viewing at https://www.plarideljournal.org/videos/.