XIAN LIM TAKES THE STRINGS

The ac­tor will make not just one film, but two, though both will be adap­ta­tions of Philip­pine lit­er­ary mas­ter­pieces: Flo­rante at Laura and Ibong Adarna

Daily Tribune (Philippines) - - LIFESTYLE - Danny Vibas

Film-TV ac­tor Xian Lim is about to make his­tory (in the Philip­pines). He is all set to di­rect a pi­o­neer­ing Filipino pup­petry film. (Yes, there are pup­peteers in the coun­try who are not with a for­eign gov­ern­ment and are also non-oli­garchs. They are mostly lit­tle-known artists from hardly known cul­tural groups.)

Xian will di­rect a film with pup­pets as main char­ac­ters for the Cul­tural Cen­ter of the Philip­pines (CCP), specif­i­cally for the pro­gram Sin­ing Sigla of the CCP Of­fice of the Pres­i­dent, whose oc­cu­pant was a film-TV di­rec­tor for many years, though he started his ca­reer as an artist as a the­ater di­rec­tor: Arse­nio “Nick” Lizaso.

Fore­most pup­petry prac­ti­tioner in the coun­try Dr. Amelia Lapena Bonifacio of the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines has ac­knowl­edged Xian’s work, which will be the first ever the coun­try.

The ac­tor will make not just one film, but two, though both will be adap­ta­tions of lit­er­ary mas­ter­pieces of the Philip­pines:

Flo­rante at Laura and Ibong Adarna. The screen­plays were writ­ten by ven­tril­o­quist-pup­peteer Ony Car­camo who was once en­ter­tain­ment edi­tor of a tabloid at­tached to a broad­sheet (not the

Daily Tri­bune). Ony’s al­ter-ego pup­pet Kiko in his ven­tril­o­quist act may ap­pear in any of the two films — with Ony him­self giv­ing voice to the pup­pet, as all ven­tril­o­quists do.

The pup­petry films be­long to Sin­ing Sigla’s MALA project. The acro­nym stands for Modern Adap­ta­tion of Lit­er­ary Arts. But as Ony ex­plained at the vir­tual me­dia con­fer­ence for Sin­ing Sigla, when MALA is writ­ten in lower case, it be­comes the Ta­ga­log pre­fix that means “re­sem­bling” or “like.” “The films will be

mala-Flo­rante at Laura and mala-Ibong Adarna. They will not be the full-length ver­sions of those lit­er­ary mas­ter­pieces we in­her­ited from our an­ces­tors. Those two works have dozens of char­ac­ters, long-wind­ing plots that take hours to stage. So we’re do­ing film adap­ta­tions that can be viewed on a shorter time. Our ver­sions will be just mala,” ex­plained Ony at the Zoom me­dia hud­dle.

Xian has di­rected only one film so far, and it must be fa­mil­iar to CCP of­fi­cials and per­son­nel.

Tabon, a sus­pense-drama, was an en­try in the 2019 Cine­malaya at the CCP. It had mixed re­cep­tion, but a film is a film and not ev­ery­one can con­ceive and di­rect a film to qual­ify as an en­try to a fes­ti­val as pres­ti­gious as Cine­malaya. That ac­cep­tance must be more than good enough qual­i­fi­ca­tion for Xian to be asked to di­rect what is ex­pected to be a his­toric film.

The films will be shown on­line for free at the CCP Face­book page in ei­ther Oc­to­ber or Novem­ber.

Other components

Sin­ing Sigla is ac­tu­ally a fes­ti­val in its own right. One com­po­nent will be his­toric for ac­tor-di­rec­tor Ricky Davao be­cause it will be his first time to helm a project for the CCP. And it is a mini-fes­ti­val in it­self: Isang Pag­ba­ba­lik-Tanaw sa Hari ng Balag­tasan. That hari (king) is Jose Co­ra­zon de Je­sus, more pop­u­larly known as the poet “Huseng Batute,” af­ter whom a lab­o­ra­tory the­ater at the CCP is named.

It’s the third time that a mini-fes­ti­val for the ver­sa­tile lit­er­ary man (he also wrote plays, es­says, editorials and even screen­plays for which he also acted) will be held at the CCP. Its for­mat is a cul­tural va­ri­ety show and this year’s edi­tion will be hosted by GMA 7’s star co­me­dian Michael V. Among the per­form­ers will be John Ar­cilla and so­prano Lara Maigue.

Sin­ing Sigla also has a jazz fes­ti­val com­po­nent that will be shown on the Face­book pages of the CCP and the CCP Of­fice of the Pres­i­dent on 25 to 27 Septem­ber and 2 to 4 Oc­to­ber 2020, all at 7:30 p.m. Among the artists per­form­ing will be sax­o­phon­ist Tots To­lentino and Michael Gue­varra, singers Ni­cole Asen­sio, Lorna Cifra, the allfe­male group Bai­hana, the Si­mon Tan Trio and pi­anist Pipo Cifra.

Aside from in­di­vid­ual per­for­mances, there will be one grand per­for­mance for all of them to be di­rected by Stan­ley Se­ludo, a mem­ber of the CCP Board of Trustees who is a mu­si­cian him­self.

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As of this writ­ing, dra­matic and messy events have bro­ken out off-cam­era among show­biz idols, such as Liza Sober­ano get­ting up­set by a fe­male ne­ti­zen’s Twit­ter com­ment that she is “sarap ipa-rape sa

ano,” fol­low­ers of former child star Xyriel Man­abat howl­ing at ne­ti­zens’ nasty com­ments about the seem­ingly over­sized breasts of the now 16-year-old Civil En­gi­neer­ing stu­dent. Also, Miss Uni­verse Ca­tri­ona Gray has filed a case against the (fe­male) edi­tor and (fe­male) writer of a tabloid who pub­lished the world beauty queen’s al­leged nude photo.

If those sto­ries still siz­zle by week­end, I’ll be able to deal with them in my Sun­day col­umn.

DR. Amelia Lapena Bonifacio of the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines has ac­knowl­edged Xian’s, which work will be the first ever such film in the coun­try.

PHO­TO­GRAPHS COUR­TESY OF IG/XIANLIMM

XIAN Lim dab­bles in di­rect­ing movies with the Filipino pup­peteery film, ‘MALA.’

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