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Tagged as one of the country’s greatest filmmakers, Brillante Mendoza is bringing his art to wider audiences in a big way through the small screen



Known for redefining Philippine cinema, Brillante Mendoza is now using television to further his craft.

A scene from ‘Panata’ (Screengrab from YouTube)

A scene from ‘Panata’ (Screengrab from YouTube)

“Itong ginagawa ko sa TV5 para kaming gumagawa rin ng pelikula,” he said. “It’s like doing talaga full-length feature kahit mga short films lang sila.”

He stressed these are not lesser works, maintaining, “Ang dedikasyon at passion na binibigay ko dito, pati na rin ang mga staff and actors ko, ay more than 100 percent. Kasi at the end of the day, a film is a film regardless of the medium kung saan ’to ipapalabas.”

The award-winning director admitted he now enjoys working on TV.

“Hindi ko tinitingnan ’yung mga restriction or limitation nito, basta ang iniisip ko, kailangan masaya ako, masaya ’yung mga katrabaho ko sa ginagawa namin.”

Eye on tradition

Brillante is talking about “Brillante Mendoza Presents,” a collection of films made specifically for television that explores the complexities of human relationships set against the backdrop of culturally rich Filipino traditions.

Brillante Mendoza making a Moriones mask (Photo by Kat Marasigan) /

Brillante Mendoza making a Moriones mask (Photo by Kat Marasigan)

Past presentations include “Tsinoy,” which coincided with the Chinese New Year, “Everlasting” (Baguio’s Panagbenga Festival) and “Ang Pagtatapos” (graduation themed).

Next in line for Brillante is “Panata,” which is connected to the Moriones Festival. It is about the story of Mario (King), a mask maker’s son, who joins the Moriones Lenten rites celebrations hoping for his father’s return amid an impending rebellion during Martial Law.

Scriptwriter Kat Marasigan explained, “I intentionally wrote it with a political slant, hoping to communicate with viewers the idea to ‘Let go and let God.’”

“Gusto ko kasi ng ‘release,’ in a sense na our generation, the millennials, are blamed for all sorts of things.

People wanted us to make a choice, a choice we technically don’t need to make. Kasi nga there’s God eh.”

As part of her research, Kat actually interviewed some Marinduqueños about the tradition.

“I was inspired by their grit, their patience, and their love for God. And naisip ko, ba’t ’di natin gawin ’yun as a nation? Why are we driven by hate?”

So, how was it working with Brillante, we asked Kat.

“Siya ’yung genuinely nakikinig,” she said. “He values you for your mind and creativity.”

“But it feels surreal. Hindi ko na-imagine sarili ko na magsusulat ng pelikula kasi software engineer ako at lalong ’di ko na-imagine na isang Brillante Mendoza ang magiging direktor ko, never in my wildest dreams.”

Working together

According to Brillante, the most challenging part about “Panata” was the production design.

“’70s to ’80s kasi ’yung era ng kwento, but, of course, it didn’t stop us,” he explained.

He credited production designer Ben Payumo for coming up with excellent work in producing authentic costumes.

The director at work (Photo by Kat Marasigan) /

The director at work (Photo by Kat Marasigan)

Note, Brillante himself helped in designing the props, actually painting some of it.

He is not new to this, having started his career as production designer in various films and television advertisements.

“Ang maganda kasi kapag nakikipag-collaborate ka sa mga kasama mo, mas na-i-inspire sila. Ngayon ang atensyon nila, ang lahat ng kanilang energy at isip, ang buong puso nila, ay nasa proyekto na,” he said. “Nakakatuwa ’yung ganu’n. Ang sarap makipag-collaborate.”

Meanwhile TV5 Head of Marketing Lloyd Manaloto, shared the reason for doing this kind of show.

“We wanted to position TV5 in different way, and what better way to do that than bringing a big name like Brillante Mendoza and his work in our television,” he shared. “Here we are putting different type of content sa TV, and the audiences we are getting here is the one who appreciate this kind of content.”

“Panata” stars Kristofer King, Felix Artadi Roco, Sue Prado, Arnold Cruz Reyes, Lou Veloso, Edwin Nombre Pamaniän, and Jill Palencia Ibuyan.

It airs tomorrow on TV5.

Filipino pride

Meanwhile, Brillante is in France, where he was invited by Institut Français to be this year’s “Parrain” or “Godfather” to newand upcoming directors taking part at the 9th edition of the “La Fabrique des Cinemas du Monde” at the prestigious 70th Cannes Film Festival.

How does Brillante feel about it?

Brillante giving instructions to Kristoffer King (Photo from his official website) /

Brillante giving instructions to Kristoffer King (Photo from his official website)

“Of course, it’s overwhelming kasi these are young filmmakers who’ve already done some films. They’re developing their project and this was sponsored by Cannes,” he said. “I’m looking forward to learn from them also kasi mga filmmaker ito na galing sa iba’t-ibang parte ng mundo, so maganda rin makipag-collaborate sa kanila and also to share a bit of our culture, and how we make films dito sa Pilipinas.”

As mentor, he hopes to share with them “our kind of story, our culture, at ang Pilipinas as a whole.”

This year’s batch includes participants from South Africa, Brazil, Egypt, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mali, Myanmar, and Peru.

Brillante hopes to inspire the young filmmakers to follow in his footsteps.

“Mas maraming natututo, mas maraming gumagaling at kung sumunod man sila sa style ko, eh ’di mas maganda,” he related. “Hindi dapat ipinagdadamot kung anong binigay ng Diyos. Dapat lang talaga na ipinamamahagi ’yan.” (With report from Jojo P. Panaligan)

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