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1918: The Year that Transformed Cinema
1918 was the year that the cinema was founded in the Philippines; it is also the
year that marks the end of the First World War. A public lecture that was promoted by the
Center of International Studies of UP Diliman was then held on November 9 in order to
commemorate the Armistice Day. The speaker during the 100th anniversary of the end of
the First World War discussed the importance of the year 1918 in the discourse of cinema.
Prof. Nick Deocampo’s talk about how one year transformed cinema amalgamates
the skills we learned in taking the Social Science 2 course in the Center for International
Studies here in UP, which as far as I know, provided us a different approach in
understanding Social, Political and Economic Thought. During his talk, Prof. Deocampo
was able to historicize in order to explain the context of what was happening before and
after 1918, which he claims as the year that transformed the cinema. Conceptualizing
these events such as the relationship of the First World War and cinema makes it easier
for us to appreciate its continuing relevance; such as how cinema embodies the ideas,
ideologies and cultural practices of a country in the period where it is produced and how
the previous films was able to shape our nation and the ideologies of its subjects until
today. The rise of machismo and populism in the current Philippine setting are a case in
point. He also addressed some questions that were not often asked, such as “Why is the
current cinema is like the way it is today?” since nobody challenges the status quo
nowadays. Ever since World War I and the destruction of European cinema occurred,
American cinema thrived and was then able to impose hegemony. Today, it has been
evident that Hollywood cinema prevails all over the world before others, but have we
asked the consequences that comes along these phenomena? We do think lightly of the
prevalence of Hollywood since its goal is to entertain, but we may have overlooked that
this occurrence causes cultural imperialism. Hollywood is slowly erasing our identity, and
we now tend to buy products of Western origin since those are the things that we see in
our media.
The course Social Science 2 and Prof. Deocampo’s talk provokes us and asks us
to look deeper beyond what the world presents upon you, always consider the historical
context of an ideology or an event and try to determine what triggered that for it to happen,
moreover, we should also reflect upon its implication by looking at the bigger picture. We
also should not always be subservient to what the world ask us to do because this will
only result to voluntary exploitation. Both the course of Social, Political and Economic
Thought and Prof. Nick Deocampo’s made me appreciate history and also gave me hope
that we can change the sorry state of not only our country but also the world as long as
we question and critique the status quo that was imposed unto us by the hegemonic