HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 54 no. 1 (2008)

Cinematic Counter-telling: The Reinscription of History in the Films of Raya Martin

Delfin L. Tolentino Jr.

Discipline: History, Film



This paper demonstrates how Philippine history is reinscribed in the works of Raya Martin, one of the most inventive of contemporary Filipino filmmakers and the first to be admitted to the prestigious Cinéfondation Residence du Festival de Cannes in France. In 2006, his film Maicling Pelicula Nañg Ysañg Indio Nacional (O Ang Mahabang Kalungkutan ng Katagalugan) promptly gained international recognition after its world premiere, with critics commending its inventive appropriation of the medium of the silent film and its structurally complex chronicle of the travails of the common man, set against the backdrop of revolution during the waning days of Spanish colonialism in the Philippines. Martin's second full-length film, Autohystoria, which dwells on the intriguing peregrination of a solitary soul in a contemporary urban landscape, concludes with the equally intriguing insertion of vintage reels showing Aguinaldo and his army. The film appears to suggest that the past and the present are interpenetrating realities. The historical dimension is sustained in his latest film, "Independencia," a work in progress, which narrates the tale of a family that sought to insulate itself from the ravages of war during the early years of the American Occupation.