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Philippine literary masterpieces that need to be adapted for the big screen

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Thursday, 14 July 2016 - Last Updated on July 14, 2016
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Just like the big Hollywood trend of adapting novels to movies, Filipino literature has immense potential to be blockbuster hits. Here are just some of the most interesting local masterpieces that should definitely get their own screen time in our theaters.

  1. Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata by Ricky Lee

Here comes the epic story of a manananggal who goes out on a mission to save the whole country. Oh, and did we mention that the said manananggal is gay? The plot practically writes itself onto the big screen, and if this isn’t something that’s worthy of a blockbuster hit, we don’t know what is.

Where else can you find such a unique twist to the classic Filipino mythical creature? This kind of genius at work can only come from the master storyteller and screenwriter himself—the critically acclaimed Ricky Lee. Dubbed as a political comedy, Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata follows the chronicles of a gay manananggal while scattering all over the novel some hints and subtle truths about the political problems of our country today. The story is even set in vibrant Tomas Morato, and it has just the right amount of love and revenge to keep any reader engaged.

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His works are no strangers to the movies.

Fantasy and romance take center stage as Ricky Lee masterfully fabricates the tale of Lola Sepa, who, of course, falls in love with none other than Andres Bonifacio. She vows to keep him safe against the opposing forces of Aguinaldo, and when she and Andres develop a tentative romance, she vows to renounce her witchy ways, too—which means she’s no longer feasting on human flesh all for the sake of her undying love. Eventually, this little secret romance takes a bad turn when her jealousy takes control of her and she betrays Andres. Because of this crippling treachery, she soon discovers one morning that she had become an ordinary human—a fitting punishment for what she had done. Can you not already see the long lines at the cinema when this surefire hit comes out?

  1. Heartbreak and Magic by Ian Rosales Casocot

Born in 1975, young genius Ian Rosales Casocot is currently already weaving beautifully fantastic stories and stealing the hearts of readers with his unique tales. This creative journalist from Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental took up his studies at the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan, as well as in Silliman University in Dumaguete City. Here, he graduated with a B.A. in Mass Communication, and he’s been garnering awards (including the Gregorio C. Brillantes Prize for Prose for Fully Booked’s Neil Gaiman Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards in 2006) and wowing everyone with his jaw-dropping written works of art ever since.

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Fantasy set in the Philippines? Yes, please!

Heartbreak and Magic is no exception. The collection of short stories tells tales of magical time travel, evil spirits, local mysticism, mythical beliefs, shocking horror, fascinating science fiction (involving a clone of our national hero Jose Rizal), and, of course, young love and heartbreak. With titles such as “The Last Days of Magic” and “How Sarah Broke Up With Me”, how can anyone not get intrigued?

One particular tale that is aptly titled “A Tragedy of Chickens” talks about the Filipino obsession for eating chicken meat, and when Dumaguete runs out of chickens, it sparks an apocalyptic tragedy that plagues an entire town—and probably even the whole country. Philippine speculative fiction is definitely at its finest with Ian Rosales Casocot’s work, and if we’re ever hoping to get our own brand of fantasy on the big screen, this collection is definitely the way to go. Neil Gaiman would definitely agree!

  1. Ermita by F. Sionil Jose

Who hasn’t heard of or read about the great F. Sionil Jose? His works have not only collected several accolades over the years, but they also have been a part of our Philippine literary culture since forever. In Ermita, F. Sionil José captures the plight of the titular prostitute during the tumultuous era before the imposition of Martial Law. This historic event declared by Ferdinand Marcos in the 1950s is the backdrop for Ermita Rojos’ tale that involves her mother—one of the unfortunate victims of rape during the Japanese occupation. In the year 1941, the Philippines is going through the trauma of the Japanese Empire’s attacks and occupation while suffering through the effects of the Second World War at the same time.

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So many good ones…

This novel has such a universal theme that even Korean journalists have translated the piece into the country’s native tongue. This is because of the parallels between the history of Korea and the Philippines. Indeed, both countries were colonized by greater powers, which is probably why the messages in the book resonated so much.

Ermita Rojo was shipped off to a convent following the shameful raping of her mother, and little Ermita was brought up among orphaned children. Despite this, she grows up happily with the nuns in the convent, but when the truth eventually catches up to her, things go downhill from there. Her Aunt Felicitas takes her in and she serves as a maid for the Rojo family as she bides her time and plots her revenge—it’s got all the makings of a hit drama film right there, don’t you think?

  1. Mass by F. Sionil Jose

Because F. Sionil Jose is so epic, we just had to include another one of the author’s works. The 1973 historical novel Mass is a political narrative that’s part of The Rosales Saga. It is also set around the declaration of Martial Law in 1972, and deals heavily with strong themes of human rights, advocating reform, the struggle of student rights, and protests from the masses. José “Pepe” Samson from Tondo, Manila is the main protagonist of the novel, and his journey includes becoming a drug dealer as well as a revolutionary for the rebel group The Brotherhood. I can still remember poring through the pages of this tragic tale back when I was still in school, and seeing this story come to life on the big screen would definitely be an unforgettable experience.

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This National Artist is a local treasure!

Do you have any personal favorites when it comes to local written masterpieces? Which titles would you absolutely love to see in theaters near you? Let us know in the comments section below!

*Photos from official Facebook accounts.

Cathy Dellosa-Lo (102 Posts)

Cathy Dellosa Lo is a freelance writer by day and a geek by night. She constantly struggles between sniffing the novels lined up in her bookshelf and trying to whip up something unusual in the kitchen, much to the dismay of her loving husband. To this day, she still has not cooked a decent meal. She one day hopes to soar the skies as a superhero for her future children, but for now, she strongly believes in saving lives through her works in fiction. She also maintains a personal blog on her rookie misadventures as a noob wife at http://quirkylifeofthenoobwife.blogspot.com/ .


About Cathy Dellosa-Lo

Cathy Dellosa Lo is a freelance writer by day and a geek by night. She constantly struggles between sniffing the novels lined up in her bookshelf and trying to whip up something unusual in the kitchen, much to the dismay of her loving husband. To this day, she still has not cooked a decent meal. She one day hopes to soar the skies as a superhero for her future children, but for now, she strongly believes in saving lives through her works in fiction. She also maintains a personal blog on her rookie misadventures as a noob wife at http://quirkylifeofthenoobwife.blogspot.com/ .

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