When folks in Manila hear of Negros, the first thing that comes into their mind is the haciendas planted with sugarcane lorded over by hacenderos on their horses with a cane at hand while watching sacadas toiling the field. This is the stereotypical image and stigma of Negros that has been stuck in the minds of a non-Negrénse. Indeed, it is not surprising since Negros is still the Sugarlandia, the Philippines’ Sugar Bowl, being the source of 70% to 80% of the country’s sugar exports and sugarcanes still dominate the Negros landscape from north to south.
Documentaries have been written about Philippine history but it seems that Negros has been a gray area. Most often, Negros has only been mentioned in passing or footnoted in history books with the vague description as being the country’s sugar producing area. If the book publisher is a bit detailed, it would mention Cinco de Noviembre, the revolutionary leaders and their haciendas. Trying to debunk myths and reinforce established truths, the first full-length documentary on this struggling industry will premiere in Bacólod City, the Sugarlandia’s capital.
PUREZA, short for the Spanish term “Pureza de Azucar”, refers to the purity of the sugar yield that is determined by the stages of sugar production from planting all the way down to milling. The title is apt since it details a vital since it determines the profit that may be earned from that yield, the profit which fuels the almost legendary lifestyle of the hacenderos. The sugar mills and refineries of past and present still use this as their standard, a timeless testament to the story of the once thriving but now struggling billion-dollar cash crop export industry.
The full trailer offers us a transport back to the history of Negros, the hacenderos, so-called sugar aristocracy. PUREZA took more than three years to finish with a powerhouse production team that worked night and day. Most of them have been immersed with Negros and some even are related to landholding families themselves. This hardy production team are composed of the ff. people:
Executive Producers J. ABELLO, JOEY GASTON
Producers FIONA BORRES, AGNES VILLAR
Director J. ABELLOAssistant Director LOVELLE BELLOCILLO
Writers JET ORBIDA, CHECCS OSMEÑA
Editor FIONA BORRES
Visual FX Supervisor RICHARD FRANCIA
Sound Engineers ALBERT MICHAEL IDIOMA, ALEX TOMBOC
Music PEARLSHA ABUBAKAR
Researchers IHVONIE SEVILLENO, KAT VALENCIACosplay Actors OYING OSMEÑA, MILTON DIONZON, MANDY ALIMON, EERO MARTINEZ, DANTE AMIGUIN
Bonfire Productions and Negros Pureza Foundation handled much of the productions with support from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Their countless hours of research, unconventional chroma production, sleepless hours of tedious editing, tons costume shopping to occasional arguments over scripts had a finished product of a 2-hour and 15-minute long documentary.
Their hard work will pay off soon as the documentary will have a premiere screening this coming February 7, 2012, 6:30pm at SM City Bacólod. On the other hand, PUREZA will also join the Bacollywood: Cinema Rehiyon 2012, a National Independent Film and Video Art Festival, and will also have a screening on February 11, 2012 at Robinson’s Place Bacólod. The documentary will be open for public screening on February 17, 2012. Stay tuned in this blog for more features on this documentary film and hopefully an interview feature with Director Jay Abella very soon.
Photos provided by the Production Team and the Negros Museum.