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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 19, 2019


LEO KATIGBAK head of ABS-CBN FILM RESTORATION with the International Gold Quill Award



ABS-CBN FILM RESTORATION’s Sagip Pelikula project, the first of its kind in Asia, is a worthy endeavor started in 2012 with the restored copy of the Ishmael Bernal classic, “Himala”. Now, 7 years later, it has since restored about 150 films that help preserve the country’s cinematic legacy and cultural heritage for posterity.

Its head, the indefatigable Leo Katigbak, for whom restoration is a personal advocacy, says he feels fulfilled each time students and other young people would come to him after the showing of restored films, thanking him for giving them the chance to watch classic Filipino films.

“It’s really heartwarming because the millennials, which consist half of our population, thank us even in social media,” adds Leo. “It’s a validation that we’re doing something really worthwhile, which is to bring good local movies to a new generation of viewers.”

We’ve attended the Trinoma and UP Film Institute screenings of some restored films and it made us realize that there is really an audience of young people who want to see films that were made before they were born.

Last June 16, the restoration Sagip Pelikula project, was given an award by the International Gold Quill, by the International Association of Business Commnicators in Vancouver, Canada.

“This is actually the second time we were given such an award,” says Leo. “The first time was six years ago and we were then nominated with another Filipino company. But this time, walang ibang Asian countries na nakapasok sa kanilang award for excellence. Ang mga kasama namin are all from the U.K., Canada and the U.S. so it’s really a big honor to be recognized along with much bigger companies.”

The movies restored by Sagip Pelikula in digital form are now shown in 70 other countries, some with both English and Spanish subtitles. They are available in various platforms for wider audiences, from free TV to cable like Cinema One and Jeepney TV, and also on iTunes, and Amazon in the U.K. and U.S. 

Their restored films have been shown in various international filmfests in Germany, Italy, Japan and the USA, among others. In cooperation with Ayala Malls, they will soon have their own theater in Greenbelt Makati and also their own official theme song celebrating the legacy of Pilipino films.

Restoring movies is not easy but painstaking work, from buying the rights to the films to actual restoration done either here or abroad like Immagine Ritrovata in Italy or Katana Film Institute in Bangkok and India.  It costs anywhere from P250,000 to millions of pesos, depending on the current state of the master copy of the films they are restoring. They cannot restore films in betacams or DVDs.

Their new titles now being restored include classics from LVN Pictures like Manuel Silos’ “Biyaya ng Lupa” (1958, for us the best local film ever made), the original “Ibong Adarna” (1941) by Vicente Salumbides, Gregorio Fernandez’ “Malvarosa” with Charito Solis (1958), and Lamberto Avellana’s “Anak Dalita” with Rosa Rosal (1956).

How we wish they also got hold of “Higit sa Lahat”, also directed by Gregorio Fernandez (father of Rudy or Daboy), a tearjerking drama starring Rogelio de la Rosa (in one of his best performances ever that won him the 1956 Asian Filmfest and FAMAS best actor awards) and Emma Alegre.

Also now being restored is ECP’s “Misteryo sa Tuwa” (1984) by Uro de la Cruz and “Soltero” (1984) by Pio de Castro III starring Jay Ilagan, Mario O’Hara’s “Bulaklak sa City Jail” starring Nora Aunor and “Mga Bilanggong Birhen” with Armida Siguion Reyna and Alma Moreno, Ishmael Bernal’s “Tisoy” with Christopher de Leon in the title role, Peque Gallaga’s “Bad Bananas sa Puting Tabing”, Carlitos Siguion Reyna’s “Saan Ka Man Naroroon” and Danny Zialcita’s “Tinimbang ang Langit”, the 1982 movie that starred Kuh Ledesma.

Sagip Pelikula deserves the support not only of film enthusiasts but every Filipino as our past and culture remain forever etched in all these films. How we wish they could also restore films of Sampaguita Pictures and Premiere Productions, but sadly, the majority of them no longer have any copies.

Check up Sagip Pelikula and its future titles and activities on Facebook at filmrestorationabscbn, Twitter @ ABS-Restoration and Instagram @abscbnfilmrestoration.