Tuesday, December 25, 2007

BAKYA CROWD




More than-half-a- century ago, when most Filipinos only watched Hollywood movies and watching Tagalog films and reading comics were looked down, a small sector of the population (who didn’t cave in to the ridicule of the population at large) had religiously watched Tagalog movies.

Touched by the patriotism of this group, National Artist and Film Director Lamberto Avellana coined an endearing word to describe them: "Bakya Crowd." Bakya, a locally-manufactured wooden slipper widely used in the 1950s by the underprivileged (but not necessarily uneducated) Filipinos, was indeed very appropriate, for these moviegoers were mostly Bakya wearers.

As the years passed, this term has evolved and a new connotation and a stigma has
been attached to it, too. In the 1950s and early 1960s when someone was referred to
as "Bakya," that person had a very poor taste and less educated that he or she would watch a Tagalog movie. Social history tells us that in those years, only a handful of theaters in Manila (only three to be exact: Life, Center & Dalisay Theaters) showed Tagalog films. Most theaters in Manila were exhibiting Hollywood flicks exclusively. Every Filipino filmmaker was having a tough time trying to convince highly-educated, aristocratic-minded, colonial mentality-proned population to go and watch their very own compatriots' lives unfold on the silver screen.

The small nationalist group didn't mind even if most of the actors and actresses looked Caucasian (most performers during those times were Eurasian or Amerisian (mestizos and mestizas).

Susan Roces and Amalia Fuentes

The scenario changed suddenly, when, in the mid-sixties, during the height of
Amalia Fuentes and Susan Roces' popularity, throngs of young people began
patronizing Tagalog movies, that within a span of five to seven years, more and more
theaters began exhibiting them. In the 1970s, the ratio of theaters showing Tagalog
and English movies was fifty-fifty.

Yet, in spite of this change, the term "Bakya Crowd" lingered, and again, its meaning had mutated like a nasty virus.

Exception to the Rule: Nora Aunor

When the so-called phenomenal superstar Nora Aunor entered the movie scene, the Filipino movies were revolutionized, so to speak, but only in terms of personalities. After more than seventy years of reigning, the popularity of mestizo and mestiza movie stars in Tagalog films began to decline. Suddenly, a petite, dark-complexioned girl from the Bicol region became the superstar of this Caucasoid territory. More young people (and of course the young once, as well) became movie fans. As the population became younger and younger, more young people joined the movies. In fact, when I was in university taking Mass Comm, several of my classmates were acting and singing in the movies: Peria Adea, Rod Dasco, Rex Dimavivas, Marsha de Rivera, Lou Soratorio, and others. During this time, if you were caught watching a Tagalog movie, you were no longer considered "Bakya". But, if you were a movie fan of a local superstar, well, that's another story. You will be branded as "Bakya."

I have always believed that the 1970’s were the worst of times and the best of times for Filipino films. Despite the drastic improvement of the writing in the komiks and the progressive upward movement of the films by L’enfant terrible film Director Armando de Guzman and newcomers Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Romy Suzara and Joey Gosiengfiao, we also have the other half who produced quickies like there were no more tomorrow: Artemio Marquez, Leody M. Diaz, Romy Villaflor, Ben Feleo and others. But, the most prominent among these quickie film directors was Artemio Marquez, who happened to direct mostly Nora Aunor films. The proliferation of Artemio Marquez’ sing-and-dance films was totally a waste of time. Clearly, all the films were made just to tickle Nora Aunor-Tirso Cruz-Manny de Leon fans. Hence, in our Speech and Drama classes, Perla Adea was teased a lot by yours truly and by my best buddy, Renato Malay (son of journalist Armando Malay).We teased her day-in and day-out until one day she couldn't take it anymore and she cried, really cried in the speech lab. She broke my heart. I apologized to her and never, ever teased her again until the end of that semester. Four years later, when we were already degree holders, we had an accidental reunion at Broadcast City. She was one of the guest actresses in my T.V. show Ulila. But that's another story...

So how on earth did such a symbolic, innocent word originally coined with such endearment, end as something insulting?

When the masses are hungry, entertain them

In the early sixties, during Philippine President Diosdado Macapagal’s term, the Philippine economy was booming. We were second in line to Japan's economic
prosperity. When Ferdinand Marcos' regime came, we began to lag. We lagged and lagged until we lost the race to all the ASEAN nations. Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, and Taiwan all became very prosperous, except us. Marcos' rule lasted for twenty-one years, and within this time frame, we lost our once upon-a-time high standard public school education. From almost 100% literacy rate, we went down to 83%; Most of the ones affected were the under-priveledged. They quit school because they could no longer afford to stay there. At a very tender age, they had to eke out a living to help the family survive. Most young people became maids and gardeners of the affluent Filipinos. Others became jeepney drivers, underpaid blue collar workers, sidewalk vendors, handy men, door- to-door salesmen. Child prostitution became rampant.

The Tagalog movies were there to help the poor escape from the harsh realities of their everyday existence. The komiks, the movies and religion became the opium of the people. Meanwhile, the filthy rich movie producers banked on the masses' Achilles heel. Despite the huge improvement in the quality of the Filipino films, some producers continued to produce projects that exploited rich people versus poor people stories, always making the rich evil, and the poor, saintly, and always triumphant in the end.

Having such an extremely inexpensive and escapist entertainment, a poor man can go where so ever he wishes - in his imagination.

The other half of the filmmakers were the ones who were guilty of these low quality escapist melodramas that came out year after year after year. They thought only of pleasing the fans of the current superstars. They didn't try hard enough to uplift the
mentality of the fans who were now refered to as the new "Bakya Crowd."

"Whatever the fans want to see, give it to them," quipped one multi- millionaire movie producer.

Such uncaring reasoning was the root cause of the deterioration of the Tagalog
Movies starting in the late 1980s and still continuing these days. The masses were never given the opportunity to appreciate worth-seeing, high-quality films. The pillars of the film industry (producers, directors, and writers) should reach out to the masses, and start believing that the audience of Tagalog movies are not stupid, and therefore they deserve better movies. If the filmmakers change, the audience will change with them. Artists are supposed to be pacesetters. They must lead. When these changes take place, the term "Bakya Crowd" will become extinct. •

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25 Comments:

Blogger Randy P. Valiente said...

welcome to blogworld, jm :)

January 2, 2008 at 5:09 AM  
Blogger Teddy Pavon said...

You never cease to impress me with all the things you know Kuya JM. I wasn't even around when all the things you've mentioned happned.XD
I doubt the "Bakya Crowd" will ever be extinct. I mean, in Hollywood there are companies that still make movies that waste our time and appeases their own "bakya crowd", but even if 80% of Hollywood movies are crap, somehow a gem pops out once in a while which not only makes money for the company, but is also critically acclaimed and down right innovative. You have directors like Scorsese, Spielberg, De Palma, Ridley Scott and the like that not only makes brilliant movies, but they also make a lot of money for their producers. Its part art part business afterall. If all directors did was make movies like The Fountain, I think Hollywood would also stick to formulas like they do here.
Perhaps the reason why Tagalog films are in a recession is because producers have yet to see an indie director who can rake in the cash and at the same time have the vision to actually explore the medium and push it to the next level. Sure, Maximo Oliveros won film festivals abroad, but is it wathcable by the common folk?
Like Francis Coppola when he did the Godfather. Paramount only wanted to create a typical "mob" movie, something cliche at the time, but they took a gamble on Coppola to see if perhaps he could boost the predicted profit from it. Needless to say how influential Godfather has become to movies today.

January 2, 2008 at 7:55 AM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Thanks for visiting here, guys.
I will be linking your blogs in here whether you like or not ;D

Randy, I've listened to your voice. Have you tried doing a Quicktime of it? This way we can keep them and we can click it any time and listen to it.

Ted, I understand that our film industry is very sick right now. Can you imagine, in the 70s, RP was producing at least 400 films a year. In the early 80s, we were bigger than Bollywood.

This is where young guys like you must take charge.

January 2, 2008 at 9:42 AM  
Anonymous Super Kapre said...

Joe,

malagyan ko nga ng advertising link ng

COMICS ILLUSTRATIONS according to FLORO DERY

itong blog mo. Hehehe. Ito ang link,

http://comicsillustration.blogspot.com/

January 2, 2008 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Super K:

Salamatonon ta nagbisita ka.
Basta tunay na uragon, naka-link siempre.

January 2, 2008 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger gladyegimena said...

hello jm,

nakakatuwa na may espasyo ka na kung saan maishe-share mo ang marami mong kaalaman sa buhay, sa mundo, at lalong lalo na sa pagsusulat.

congrats at asahan mong palagi kong bibisitahin ang blog mo.

glady

January 6, 2008 at 9:29 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Hi Glady:

Thank you for visiting.
I'm really glad that through the web and blogging, I've met a lot of wonderful and intelligent people like you.

Lagi rin akong dumadalaw sa iyong blog at iba pang mga komikeros.

January 6, 2008 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Oo nga pala Glady. Puwede ko bang i-link ang iyong blog dine? Ayokong pangunahan ka at baka MABATUKAN mo ako, sumadsad ako sa lupa, at hindi na makabangon dahil sa katandaan :)

January 6, 2008 at 10:13 PM  
Anonymous youngstud said...

Musta na, kuya JM. Matagal na ring hindi ako naka-email sa iyo. Nawala kasi ang email mo sa akin. Mabuti naman at may blog ka na ngayon. Lagi na akong makakadalaw.

January 7, 2008 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger gladyegimena said...

sure! sure at sure pa!

napakalaking karangalan po sa akin kung ililink nyo ang ang blog ko dito.

maraming maraming salamat.

January 7, 2008 at 3:09 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Glady:

Thank you, ha.

Youngstud:

Saan ka napasuot at mukhang matagal kang di nakibalita sa akin? Kumusta na ang modelling mo, balitaan mo naman ako. Maski sa email ko na lang na winala mo. :) Kung nahihiya kang magpost dito, diretso mo na lang sa email ko, okay?

January 7, 2008 at 4:54 PM  
Anonymous youngstud said...

Kuya JM okay lang sa akin. Na-interview nga ako ni Tita Swarding sa DZRH at tinanong ako kung for hire daw ako sa mga Bading. Inamin ko yung totoo. Hindi sila makapaniwala.

Actually very successful yung modelling ko sa Japan. 20 bikini underwears ang iminodel ko. Galing ng mga advice mo sa akin, tuwang-tuwa sila doon. Tatlong gabing shows kumita ako ng 4,000 US dollars. Ang laking tulong sa mga
magulang ko at mga kapatid. Kung nandirito ka Maynila, i-blow-out kita maski saang restawran mo gusto. At saka kuya, napa-call boy na rin tuloy ako dun. Mapilit kasi yung Hapon. 15 minutes lang nabayaran ako ng 600 dollars. Galante yung nag-hire sa akin. Nabook din sana ako sa dalawa pang kliyenteng bading. Kaya lang pauwi na ako. Siguro pagbalik ko na lang next month.

Hindi ko kinakaligtaan yung payo mo na uminom ng green tea araw-araw para laging mabango ang hininga. Mas magaling ka pa sa dentista. He-he.

Thank you, thank you, kuya. Laking utang na loob ko sa iyo. Baka puwede akong mag-model diyan sa Canada o sa US. Mas malaki ang bayad diyan.

Haba na ng balita ko. Til next time na lang kuya JM.

January 8, 2008 at 5:40 AM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Naku, lintik kang Youngstud ka. Pinahirapan mo ako. I tried to edit your comment to make it sound suitable for GENERAL PATRONAGE, but I screwed up and my name kept going to your comment. Now I finally fixed it.

Okay, I'm glad you're doing fine in your modelling. Pero bakit naman kailangan mo pang mag sideline as male prostitute? Kikitain mo rin ang pera kahi't hindi ka gumawa niyan. Don't let those DOBs (Dirty Old Badings) abuse you. So far, may ipinayo ba itong iyong TIYO DELIO na pumaltos? So far, so good, di ba? Kaya sana makinig ka sa payo kong ito. Ibenta mo ang katawan mo sa pagmomodelo lang, huwag ka nang humiga sa kama na katabi ng kliyenteng bading. Huwag kang magmadali na kumita ng mas malaki. Iyang pagbibili ng aliw ay hindi maganda sa iyong mental health, or even to your physical health. Mamaya may sakit pa yang mga hayok at dayukdok sa laman na mga kliyente, mahawa ka pa. Tapos, may balak kang mag-artista, di ba? Isasampal ang isyung iyan sa iyo ni MANAY LOLIT kapag nasa showbiz ka na. Believe me. Naging daigdig ko rin ang showbiz at kabisado ko ang likaw ng bituka ng business na ito.

Think, my man, think. Remember that the moment you put a face to your name, there will be no more turning back. May request pa ako sa iyo. Try your best to finish university. It will change your life.

Yeah, I wish I could have dinner with you so I can SCOLD you more :)

Be a good boy and helping your family is a wonderful thing. Keep in touch, and I hope next time, no more XXX comment. Oui?

Your Tio Delio :)

January 8, 2008 at 6:00 AM  
Anonymous auggie said...

JM,

At last, mi blogsite ka na pala! Happy New Year of the Rat !

Pumunta ako doon sa blogsite ni Aklas Isip, parang walang nagbabasa, wala ding feedback, except for a certain Rommel Fabian. Kaano ano kaya noong artist na si Ruben Fabian ?


More power to you JM !


Auggie

January 8, 2008 at 6:48 AM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 8, 2008 at 7:42 AM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Hi Auggie:

Illustrator iyang si Rommel kung hindi ako nagkakamali. Ask Ingkong KC. Nabanggit na niya iyan sa akin. Hindi ko pa nakita ang sample ng work niya. Although si KC naman ay may mata rin sa pagpili ng artist kaya siguro naman ay okay si Rommel. But that remains to be seen, you know.

Yeah, mabuti na ring may ganito para madisiplina akong magsulat. Masyado na kasi akong tamad, eh. I am supposed to revise my first drafts of teleplays but I have been procrastinating and going everywhere and doing everything, other than write. So, maybe having this blog will put me in the right track of mood so I can keep writing. The Cable TV people has been calling wondering when the series will start and I haven't shot a single frame. I am brainstorming right now on what title I should be using for the series. But it will be a weekly drama anthology on Filipinos' lives in North America.

Sometimes, I toy of the idea of just dropping everything and just be retired forever and live in the mountain like a hermit. I think I like that idea of existence. It's just too attractive for my taste :)

January 8, 2008 at 7:49 AM  
Anonymous auggie said...

Try to postpone it. Marami ka pang maitututuro sa young komikeros para hindi maligaw ng landas, In case type mong magturo sa university, I think ATENEO DE NAGA UNIVERSITY will welcome you with open arms. Think about it, pag retire ni Supremo Kapre at gusto niyang mag professor emeritus sa Ateneo, at ikaw , tiyak na bagyo yung faculty ng Ateneo de Naga, dayadayuhin yung bagong Digital Animation program nila. Dalawang Uragon na world-class ang nasa faculty, saan ka. Actually, I'm sort of laying the groundworks, para en caso gusto ninyong magturo doon, hindi na sila masyadong magaatubili. besides highly qualified kayong dalawa dahil mi mga graduate degrees kayo, Ph.D ki Kapre, ikaw naman UCLA alumnus sa masters program in film making, o saan pa sila hindi n sila gagastos para sa faculty development, di ba ?


Auggie

January 8, 2008 at 6:21 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Auggie:

Teaching young people is a noble thing. Lalo na diyan sa atin. But, I'm not so sure whether I'd still have enough MOXIE to do that when I'm old and retired at uugud-ugod na. He-he. Baka naman hahawakan na ako ng dalawang estudtyantes sa magkabilang braso para lumakad patungo sa classroom. Ha-ha.
O baka naman itutulak na ako sa wheelchair.

Kidding aside, I have the tendency of always searching for something that would make me exist in harmony with my surroundings, with friends and acquaintances, with p[eople's attitudes as well. When I was a preppy, I've taken the tests for UST and UP. I've chosen UST and enrolled in their Arts and Letters with Journalism and Fine Arts intention. After the first semester, I found out that most professors in Arts & Letters were SPOON-FEEDING us. So, I went to UP. The professors were fine, but my classmates were so indifferent. Ang hilig pumorma ng marami, na turn-off na naman ako. So, I went to FEU and I felt really happy there. But, what was so funny was that, my professors in UP were also my professors in FEU! Nag-mo-moonlighting pala ang mga tinamaan ng kulog! plus the fantastic faculty composed of Sarah Joaquin, Nick Agudo, Koko Trinidad, Isabel Soriano and other speech and drama practitioners, plus the regular resource practitioners such as Lamberto Avellana, Rolando Tinio, Naty Crame Rogers, Tommy Abuel, Vic Silayan, even Soc Rodrigo.

I had so much fun in FEU that I stayed and received my Bachelors Degree in Mass Comm.

In a way, I know what frustrates the studends and I'm pretty sure I know how to make the lesson more interesting.

Who knows? Teaching might be a good past time while waiting for the last few few years of one's life.

January 8, 2008 at 11:04 PM  
Anonymous anak ni Super Kapre said...

ANAK ni Super Kapre naman ngayon, sa susunod ay APO ni Super Kapre, at sa susunod pa ay APO SA TUHOD ni Super Kapre, etc.

Joe, maganda magturo sa mga bata, puwera lang sa mga gurang dahil makikitid na ang mga ulo nito. Nuong nagturo ako sa graduate school ng Philippine Normal College,iyong mga matatanda na studyante ko ay bubo na, ayaw mag-aral pero gusto uno ang kanilang mga grado. Sa inis ko ay binigyan ko na lang silang lahat ng gradong uno, hehehe, ang sasaya ng mga kulogo pero wala naman nalalaman.

Pero sa mga universidad na tinuruan ko, talagang popular ako sa mga bata, puro kasi pasado, walang bagsak. At gustong gusto ng mga bata na haluan mo pa ng kabuangan ang mga turo, masaya ang mga kumag na ito dito.

Halimbawa, nuong nagturo ako sa PMA, ang leksiyon namin ay tungkol sa trajectory ng bala ng kanyon, ang ginamit ko na drawing na kanyon ay tarogo, hihihi, sigawan sa hagalpakan ang mga kadete, sinita tuloy ako ng komandante namin sa kabuangan ko.

Commercial naman ng mga kabuangan turo ng blog ko, tang tarang tang tang, ito na

http://comicsillustration.blogspot.com/

January 9, 2008 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Anak ng Kapre:

Kuwelang-kuwela ka talaga.
I could just imagine the scene inside the classroom where you taught. Nakakatawa talaga ang mga jokes mo, manoy. Tunay ka talagang uragon.

January 9, 2008 at 4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ang hindi ko lang gustong parte ng pagtuturo eh yung pag co-compute na ng grades. Kung masi=simplify siguro ito sa PASS OR FAIL, baka bumalik ako....


Auggie

January 9, 2008 at 5:05 PM  
Anonymous youngstud said...

Kuya JM di mo pa sinasagot ang email ko. Busy ka ba ngayon?

January 10, 2008 at 6:50 AM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Youngstud:

Buti naman at nagpost ka uli. Bumabalik yung email ko sa iyo. May mali siguro sa itinawag mo sa akin. Mas mabuti pa, email mo na lang uli ako kaysa tumawag ka kasi namamali. Sa email ko na sasagutin ang mga tanong mo't masyadong personal baka ma-karate chop tayo dito ni Super Kapre, ikaw din.

Your father confessor,

JM :)

January 10, 2008 at 6:58 AM  
Blogger gladyegimena said...

Hello po uli,

May kaunting study ako na isinulat noon tungkol sa pag-usbong ng iba't ibang konotasyon tulad sa salitang "bakya" at ilan pang mga terminolohiyang tulad nito na umiiral sa konteksto ng Kulturang Popular. Hanggang sa maging extinct na ang gamit nito, kahulugan at mismong produkto. Ginamit ko ito sa lecture ko sa klase sa kolehiyo. Would you mind kung i-share ko po ito?

Thanks,
Glady

January 12, 2008 at 1:27 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Sure. Hindi ba't nakatutuwa ang irony ng term na ito, na ang nag-imbento ay isa mismong direktor sa pelikula sa Pelikulang Tagalog? Isang katagang ginamit (sa kalaunan) ng mga kritiko para pulaan mismo ang pelikulang tagalog. Nakamamangha kung paanong ang isang magandang kataga'y mag-evolve nang ganito dahil sa ibang motibo ng mga taong walang pagpapahalaga at respeto sa industriya ng Pelikulang Tagalog (ganito noon ang tawag nila, TAGALOG, kasi mayroon tayo noong Visayan movies at ENGLISH Filipino movies), to name a few: Portrait of an artist as Filipino; Has anyone Seen Chris; Because of a Flower; Aswang; Manila: Open City; Beast of the East; and many more.

Good luck to your writing, Glady. You're quite instrumental in propagating not only the Filipino culture, but also the language as well. Mabuhay ka.

January 12, 2008 at 1:47 PM  

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