While most people are aware with the film’s most famous phrase “Walang himala! Because of several humorous memes circulating on social media, not everyone – notably the younger generation – has watched the classic film Himala in its entirety, a terrible condition that the Cultural Center of the Philippines seeks to solve through the Cine Icons program.
The CCP’s newest film program under its Film, Broadcast, and New Media Division, under Rep. Christopher de Venecia, aims to recognize and showcase the cinematic masterpieces of newly-minted National Artists for Film and Broadcast Arts Ricky Lee, Nora Aunor, and Marilou Diaz-Abaya for greater awareness and appreciation of Philippine cinema among the Filipino public.
“Films have always played a significant role in shaping the cultural identity of the Philippines, capturing the country’s rich history, diverse traditions, and the Filipino way of life. They have been a medium of storytelling, educating, and entertaining audiences while providing a platform for artists to showcase their creativity.” said CCP president Margie Moran-Floirendo during the recent launch of the film program at the Tanghalang Ignacio B. Gimenez.
The Cine Icons launch kicked off with the special screening of digitally remastered classic film Himala, a film written by Ricky Lee and starring Nora Aunor playing the titular role of Elsa, an orphan claiming to have visions of the Virgin Mary and abilities to heal people with a variety of ailments. As the film progresses, the rest of the residents of her isolated village find themselves questioning their own beliefs and values. As word of this phenomenon spreads, tourists, pilgrims, patients, and a documentary filmmaker all arrive on a quest to partake in the miracle.
ABS-CBN’s Sagip Pelikula facilitated the restoration of the award-winning movie, directed by National Artist Ishmael Bernal. The restoration project continuously makes Filipino cinematic classics accessible through various platforms for the viewing of today’s generation.
“Ang ABS-CBN Film Restoration ay 12 years na. Naug-umpisa iyan lahat nang ipalabas namin noong 2012 ang pelikulang Himala. Noong pinag-uusapan kung ano ang magandang umpisahan sa aming restoration project, walang ibang naging kasagutan kung hindi ang Himala dahil sa ganda ng pelikulang ito,” shared Sagip Pelikula head Leo Katigbak.
During the talkback after the film screening, students, fans, and film enthusiasts had a chance to engage in conversations with National Artist Lee who recounted behind-the-scenes stories and anecdotes on the filming of Himala.
“May inire-revise ako, like yung monologue doon sa ending. May natapos ako noon na monologue na nasa ospital na. Pero nung binasa ko iyon sa set, nakita yung mga na-shoot na, parang hindi na maganda, so nag-observe ako sa set, tiningnan ko ‘yung may mga sakit na extra, tas sabi ko kakausapin sila ni Elsa, parang hindi bagay ‘yung nasulat ko. So nag-revise ako sa set, ang natira na lang mula sa original draft ay ‘yung ‘walang himala,’ lahat nabago. Then, ibinigay kay Ate Guy ‘yung draft ng na-revise ko at sinabihan siya na one take lang kasi 3,000 extras, eight cameras, five crowd directors, hindi natin pwede ulitin lahat iyon pag nag-stampede na. So, one take lang. And the next day, one take nga lang ang nangyari,” shared National Artist Lee.
The award-winning scriptwriter generously shared his thoughts on Philippine cinema, producing films, and writing scripts. He also gave pieces of advice to aspiring writers.
“Ang masasabi ko sa young and struggling writers, hindi masama ang salitang struggling. I don’t think that you should ever stop struggling. Fifty years na akong nagsusulat, and I am still struggling. It never stops. Huwag niyo ring ambisyunin na maging Ricky Lee o Doy Del Mundo o Pete Lacaba kasi nag-iisa kami. Kung gagawa kayo ng kagaya namin, kami na ang kukunin. Xerox copies na kayo. Pero kung gagawa kayo ng kwento na galing sa boses at karanasan ninyo, kayo ‘yun at walang kapareho sa buong mundo. Pagbutihin lang ninyo at tiyak na papanoorin ‘yan ng tao,” advised National Artist Lee.
Cine Icons had a soft launch on February 17, 2023, at the PUP Theater, featuring National Artist Diaz-Abaya’s Brutal, also written by National Artist Lee. The event was made possible in partnership with the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP).
Catch Cine Icons in Baguio City on March 29, 6pm, at the Balanghay ni Ikeng, located at Ili-Likha Artists’ Wateringhole, along Assumption Road. In collaboration with Montanosa Film Festival, Cinemarehiyon, and ABS CBN Film RestorATION, the new CCP film program will have a back-to-back screening of “Moral,” a film directed by National Artist Diaz-Abaya and written by National Artist Lee, and National Artist Kidlat Tahimik’s “Orbit 50: Letters to my Three Sons.” Join the post-screening talkback with the two living National Artists.
Follow the official CCP social media accounts in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tiktok for the screening schedule announcements and latest updates on the center’s shows and productions.