Oro, Plata, Mata (film)

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Oro, Plata, Mata is a 1982 Philippine historical war drama film directed by Peque Gallaga, from a story by Peque Gallaga, Mario Taguiwalo, and Conchita Castillo and screenplay by José Javier Reyes. The film is considered to be Gallaga's most significant contribution to the Philippine cinema. Set in the Philippine province of Negros during World War II, it tells the story of how two haciendero families cope with the changes brought about by the war.[1] In translation, the movie is also known either as "Gold, Silver, Bad Luck" or "Gold, Silver, Death."[2]

The title refers to the traditional Spanish Filipino architectural superstition saying that design elements in a house (particularly staircases) should not end in a multiple of three, in keeping with a pattern of oro (gold), plata (silver), and mata (bad luck). The film is structured in three parts that depict this pattern played out in the lives of the main characters, from a life of luxury and comfort in the city ("oro/gold"), to a still-luxurious time of refuge in a provincial hacienda ("plata/silver"), and finally to a retreat deeper into the mountains, where they are victimized by guerilla bandits ("mata/bad luck").[1]

It was filmed on location in the whole province of Negros Occidental, primarily in Bacolod City and the Mt. Kanlaon National Park. The staff and crew have received an extensive assistance and support from the Ministry of National Defense, Ministry of Tourism, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The film's musical score was provided by Jose Gentica V; the film's photography was handled by Rody Lacap; and the editing was handled by Jesus Navarro.

In 2013, ABS-CBN Film Archives in partnership with Central Digital Lab digitally restored and remastered the film and was subsequently released in select theaters for a limited period of time. The digitally restored version was also released on DVD and iTunes.[3]

Opening quote

“The lights went out all over Europe and the young sought sweetness and light in the pictures of Deanna Durbin, a bright symbol of the era, and the young Susan Magalona, whose beauty had become a national topic. At the Crystal Arcade, the mezzanines still rang with the cries of "Gold! Gold! Gold!". The holocaust had been kindled, but the victims were unaware; and the nation swung confidently into the 1940's.

The decade of disaster fell into three unequal parts: the two years before the war; the period of the Japanese occupation; and the liberation era. No decade in our history was more eventual than this one... So vast now seems the difference between what we have become and what we were before disaster struck that, in the Philippine vernacular term "peacetime" means exclusively all the years before December 8, 1941. There has been no "peacetime" since then.”

— Nick Joaquin

According to the audio commentary by Peque Gallaga, he told to the film's screenwriter, Jose Javier Reyes, to create a frame reference for the film and the latter answered to cite a quote from Nick Joaquin. Gallaga agreed with the decision and he revealed that he enjoyed reading his works.

Plot

Oro, Plata, Mata traces the changing fortunes of two aristocratic families in Negros during World War II. The Ojeda family is celebrating Maggie Ojeda's (Andolong) debut. In the garden, Trining (Gil) receives her first kiss from Miguel Lorenzo (Torre), her childhood sweetheart. Don Claudio Ojeda (Ojeda) and his fellow landowners talk about the impending war and some of the young able-bodied men decided to enlist for the war. The celebration was cut short by news of the sinking of SS Corregidor by a mine. As the Japanese invasion force nears the city, the Ojeda family accept the invitation extended by the Lorenzos, their old family friends, to stay with them in their provincial hacienda. Nena Ojeda (Lorena) and Inday Lorenzo (Asensio) try to deny the realities of war by preserving their pre-war lifestyle. Pining for her fiancé, Maggie goes through bouts of melancholy. Miguel and Trining turn from naughty children into impetuous adults.

Two more family friends, Jo Russell (Valdez) and Viring (Villanueva) join them in the refuge. As they witness the burning of the city and the enemy in advance, the families evacuate to the Lorenzo family's forest lodge. A group of weary guerrillas under arrive and Jo tends to their injuries. The guerrillas leave Hermes Mercurio (Lazaro) behind. Miguel endures more comments of the same kind when he fails to take action against a Japanese soldier who came upon the girls bathing in the river. It is Mercurio who kills the Japanese. Maggie comforts Miguel, who decides to learn how to shoot from Mercurio. Later, Viring's jewelry is stolen by Melchor (de la Cruz), the trusted foreman. He justifies his action as a reward for his services. He tries to break the other servants loyalty by telling them to join him, but they did not forcing Melchor to leave.

Later, Melchor and his band of thieves return and make revenge to them. They raid the food supplies, rape Inday and chop off Viring's fingers when she does not take off her ring. Trining unexpectedly goes with the bandits despite all the crimes they have committed against her family. These experiences committed Maggie and Miguel closer together. Miguel urges the survivors to resume their mahjong games to help them cope with their trauma. Miguel is determined to hunt the bandits down and bring Trining back. He catches them in an abandoned hospital, but his courage is replaced with bloodlust, driving him to a killing spree. An epilogue follows the violent climax where Miguel and Mercurio finally killed Melchor and their remaining men.

At last, in 1945, the Americans have liberated the Philippines from Japan. A party is held in the Ojeda home to announce Maggie and Miguel's betrothal. The survivors attempt to reclaim their previous lifestyle, but the war has changed the world, just as it has forever changed each of them.

Cast

Character Actor
Trinidad "Trining" Ojeda Cherie Gil
The youngest of two daughters of Nena and Andring Ojeda. She is Miguel's first love.
Margarita "Maggie" Ojeda Sandy Andolong
The oldest of two daughters of Nena and Andring Ojeda. In the last parts of the film, she became Miguel's eventual wife.
Nena Ojeda Liza Lorena
The wife of the late Andring Ojeda, mother of Trining and Maggie, and daughter-in-law of Don Claudio. She and her whole family seek refuge at the Lorenzo household when the Japanese invaders were coming.
Inday Lorenzo Fides Cuyugan-Asencio
The matriarch of the Lorenzo estate. Like Nena, she is a widower after her husband Pepito died. She is also a mother to two sons Teodoro and Miguelito but Teodoro died of unknown causes, leaving Miguelito as her only remaining son.
Miguelito "Miguel" Lorenzo Joel Torre
The only remaining son of Inday and Pepito Lorenzo. His mother was very overprotective of him and he was characterized as a "weakling" but when their family was pillaged by the bandits, he started a revenge attack against the bandits led by the foreman Melchor, igniting into an endless firefight between him and his other men.
Don Claudio Ojeda Manny Ojeda
The patriarch of the Ojeda estate. After the death of his only son Andring, she acts as the father-figure to his two granddaughters.
Jo Russell Maya Valdez
The first of the two family friends who seek refuge at the Lorenzo household. She is married to an American.
Viring Ravillo Lorli Villanueva
The last of the two family friends who seek refuge at the Lorenzo household. Her husband lives in New York but Viring remained stuck in the Philippines.
Hermes Mercurio Ronnie Lazaro
One of the guerilla soldiers serving under Minggoy. He acts as one of the protectors for the Lorenzo and Ojeda families living in the mountain lodge.
Melchor Abbo Q. dela Cruz
The film's fat-looking main antagonist. He used to be a trusted foreman of the Lorenzo family until he was fired by Inday for stealing possessions of their friends. He would later lead a bandit guerilla army and then, killed by their former employer's son Miguel.
Minggoy Jaime Fabregas
One of Don Claudio's fellow landowners. He also lead a guerilla army and a trusted person to the Lorenzo and Ojeda families.
Carlos Placido Robert Antonio
Don Claudio's trusted accountant.
Lucio Agustin Gatia
One of the servants of the Lorenzo family.
Diwata Kuh Ledesma
A supernatural creature that lurks in the areas of Mt. Kanlaon. She can be depicted as the "Dalagang Filipina" who was abused and tortured by the Japanese.

Symbolism

From the time the film was written to the people after Martial Law, Melchor's manners can be seen in two ways:

  • Socio-Political Perspectives of the '80s: In the era of civilization, the people's armies were not foreign, and by chance, the hostile foreign armies were weak (symbolizing the dying Japanese soldier that Miguel failed to kill). The cows of the people then are their own countrymen: Marcos' military and police forces.
  • Melchor's Marxist behavior: It was a warning that could happen to those at the highest levels of society, who dominated Filipino politics at the time. Meanwhile, the work of the New People's Army (NPA) (the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines) was at its strongest at the time of the film's release.

Release

Oro, Plata, Mata is the first film produced by the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines as pursuant to the Executive Order No. 770 by President Ferdinand E. Marcos. The film was first released in January 27, 1982 and it was approved to be shown by the Board of Censors for Motion Pictures. It was also shown in the United States on October 1, 1983 as part of the Chicago International Film Festival and in Japan on November 1, 1991 as part of the Filipino Movies Festival, which was sponsored and presented by the ASEAN Cultural Center.

Digital restoration

In the late 1990s, ABS-CBN originally planned to restore Oro, Plata, Mata but the costs for the analog restoration were expensive, exceeding up to 20 million pesos. Eventually, the film was digitally restored and remastered in 2012 by the ABS-CBN Film Restoration and Central Digital Lab (supervised by Manet T. Dayrit and Rick Hawthorne). Peque Gallaga (the film's director) and Rody Lacap (the film's cinematographer) were involved in the restoration process. It is the second film to be restored by the ABS-CBN Film Restoration and Central Digital Lab.[4]

Before the restoration was commenced, the film print of the ABS-CBN Film Archives and two reserve prints were considered as the source of elements for the restoration but the ABS-CBN archive print was chosen instead because the film's picture quality was better. Peque Gallaga was consulted in preserving the original colours of the film since the film print was already fading. Central Digital Lab took 1,871 manual hours to complete the film restoration and 80 hours for color grading. The film's audio was restored by Post Haste Sound Inc. in Los Angeles, California, United States. It was lifted from the Betacam tape and upgraded from mono audio to Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix.[5][6][7]

Awards

The movie won the 1982 Gawad Urian awards for Best Picture, Direction, Cinematography, Production Design, Musical Score, and Sound. In the same year, it won the Luna Awards for Production Design and Best Supporting Actress (Liza Lorena). It is marketed as one of the top ten best films of the 1980s.[1][8]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Oro, Plata, Mata (front cover). Peque Gallaga. Diliman, Quezon City: Star Recording/ABS CBN. 2008 [1982]. 17-75237-8.
  2. ORO, PLATA, MATA (1982). Retrieved on 2008-05-11.
  3. Oro, Plata, Mata to be restored in HD. ABS-CBN News (21 October 2012). Retrieved on 29 October 2012.
  4. Gallaga’s Oro restored. The Philippine Star (September 24, 2013).
  5. San Diego Jr., Bayani. "‘Oro, Plata, Mata’ restored, Bacolod screening planned", Philippine Daily Inquirer, December 9, 2012. 
  6. Sagip Pelikula Spotlight looks into Oro, Plata, Mata (1982) for the month of May. ABS-CBN Film Restoration (May 15, 2020).
  7. Find out more about the restoration of Oro, Plata, Mata (1982) (May 4, 2020).
  8. Oro, Plata, Mata (1982) - Awards