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IAFT Film "Salvi" Takes Home Top Prize at IIoilo IIoilo Film Fest

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February 01, 2013

One of the biggest perks of going out of town is reliving the traditions of the probinsiya. Thank God for our fiestas, practices, many languages and habitual generosity characterizing the inhabitants of these 7,000 plus islands. We had the chance to experience all these during the two-day Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo, courtesy of GMA 7 Corporate Communications headed by Butch Raquel who inundated us with a daily sampling of his peculiar brand of humor. Assisting him was senior publicity officer Maria Carmela “Rica” Torres.

We arrived early morning to check in at the Sarabia Manor Hotel & Convention Center to take a brief nap, then went to the lunch press conference with the stars of Indio led by Bong Revilla, Jennylyn Mercado and Rhian Ramos.

We then headed for the Dinagyang (Merry making) Festival, derived from the 13th century purchase of Panay Island in the Visayas by 10 Bornean Datus seeking refuge in a friendlier land, in exchange for a golden salakot. Today, the practice is known as Ati-Atihan of Kalibo, Aklan, Cebu’s Sinulog, Capiz’s Halaran, Antique’s Binirayan, Bacolod’s Masskara and many others. And apparently, all are celebrated with as much passion & fervor.

Happily, we were meeting Rock Drilon and his assistant Daniella that afternoon to attend the Dinagyang street parade. All roads had been roped off; the only way we could watch was to walk several kilometers along the route. Rock heads the new Cinematheque in Iloilo set up by the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) to promote regional and international filmmaking. While showing us the sights and significant restoration of old buildings along the way, Rock spoke of the recent results of FDCP’s local film competition and the outstanding first placer Salvi by TM Malones. TM was apparently the jewel unearthed by the competition. We decided we had to meet this filmmaker. Over breakfast at Sarabia, we listened to his story.

TM is a native of Maasin, a small municipality of some 31,000, around 30 minutes from Iloilo City where he runs the flourishing TM Malones photography studio at the Lopez Commercial Arcade in Jaro. Most of his projects are weddings in Cebu and Iloilo, where in December he services as many as 10 weddings a day.

Apparently, the money he makes is spent on his passion, which is filmmaking. A graduate of the Central Philippine University (CPU), a private research university in Iloilo run by American Baptist missionaries, TM won the Best Thesis Technical Award upon graduation for his film Salvi. In December of 2012, TM read an announcement of the competition at the Iloilo Cinematheque for January 2013. He figured there wasn’t time to come up with an entry and decided to submit Salvi. Also in December, Cinema One Originals requested that they air the film, and in January the film won the top award of P15,000 from the Iloilo Cinematheque.

We watched Salvi on TM’s Mac with its futuristic take on how the world will solve its runaway population explosion and preserve the planet. The solution was to lock up women of childbearing ages in concentration camps. What a horribly inhuman concept, bringing back to life the Holocaust, made even more frightening by TM’s brilliant handling of its editing, cinematography and production design with disturbing music by Rodrigo Sotto. Outstanding as well was 19-year-old Brittany Baldoza in the title role of Salvi. Small wonder it immediately garnered attention.

Although TM had a marketing degree from CPU, he also went to Manila for an MBA at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business in Rockwell, while studying photography and printing. Then, he proceeded to Big Foot in Cebu to study filmmaking. He set up his photo business, and in his spare time began making short films.

So far, he has come up with five short docus. We watched one on his laptop that documented the various snakes found in Iloilo — how to differentiate the venomous from the harmless. Another was called Espiritista, a six-minute school project for Big Foot where a medium demonstrates her gift. We told TM we believe in these people, as well as in the creatures of the netherworld. He played back his film, asking us to watch carefully while the medium was talking, then pointed out to a white figure that passed behind her.

We could have gone on and on. It was fun shooting the breeze with this artist. We are certain that TM will surface once again with other exciting films.

(Source: The Philippine Star)