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Thursday, July 17, 2008


Ishmael Bernal (September 30, 1938- June 2, 1996) is the son of Elena Bernal and Pacifico Ledesma. He studied at Burgos Elementary School, Mapa High School and at the University of the Philippines where he finished his Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1962. After graduation he worked with Lamberto Avellana's documentary outfit before proceeding to France where he earned his Licentiate in French Literature and Philosophy at the University of Aix-en-Prevence. He got his Diplomate in Film Directing in 1970 at the Film Insititue of India in Poona under the Colombo plan scholarhip. An active participant in the struggle for artist's rights and welfare, Bernal was also a board member of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines and the Directors Guild of the Philippines, Inc. Until his demise, he remained part of DGPI, an organization that studies the role of film as an instrument of entertainment, education and development.

Ishmael Bernal is one person who truly loved the arts. He nurtured his passion for literature and theater by actively participating in the U.P. Dramatic Club while finishing a college degree. He is also an avid fan of classical music and the operas. During the 60s, Bernal put up When It's A Grey November In Your Soul, in Malate which became one of the favorite watering holes of Manila's artists and intellectuals. Unfazed by its short lived-success, Bernal put up Kasalo in Quezon City three decades later, which became the hang-out of students, journalists, poets, bands, theater and film artists.

Pagdating Sa Dulo (1971)- Stars Miss Rita Gomez, Vic Vargas, Eddie Garcia, Rosemarie Gil, Ronaldo Valdez, Elvira Manahan/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal

He directed and wrote his first film, Pagdating Sa Dulo (At The Top), in 1971. In this film we catch a glimpse into what Ishmael Bernal's ouvre would prefigure for the industry: it is a scene showing an aspiring actress (played by the late Rita Gomez) pondering on dreams blooming in deserts of desolation and dying out in a mirage that painfully conjures images of squatter colonies and sordid lives. The bold star stares out into the landscape and scans it, with the camera acting as her surrogate, but finally framing her against the embarrassingly majestic Cultural Center. The scene captures it all: the decadence of the Martial Law regime, along with its perverse aspirations to art, has doomed the destinies of Filipinos.

From that time on, Bernal has established himself as an innovative and intelligent filmmaker who would not be content with conventional formulas of local film making. Under his name is a broad range of film genres and themes: historical dramas like El Vibora (The Viper), and the Bonifacio episode in the unreleased Lahing Pilipino (The Filipino Race); sophisticated comedies like Tisoy (Mestizo), Pabling (Playboy), Working Girls I and Working Girls II; experimental films like Nunal Sa Tubig (Speck In The Water) and Himala (Miracle); and contemporary dramas exploring human psyches and social relationships, such as Ligaw Na Bulaklak (Wildflower), Mister Mo, Lover Boy Ko (Your Husband, My Lover), Ikaw Ay Akin (You Are Mine), Relasyon (The Affair), Aliw (Pleasure) and the film classic City After Dark. His sturdy filmography is mainly clustered around the themes and problems that inevitably encrust the "social" as the core of personal malaise.

Bernal considers himself a feminist director and admits that it is part of his interest to tackle issues affecting women. A large chunk of his work are stories about women and for women: Relasyon, Hinugot Sa Langit, Working Girls, to name a few. Before Bernal died, he was suppose to meg the life story of Lola Rosa Henson, the comfort woman.

Aside from film, Bernal also directed television shows like the long-time drama series Ang Makulay Na Daigdig Ni Nora for which he was named Outstanding Director in a Drama Series by the Patas Awards in 1979; Metro Magazine, Isip Pinoy, Dear Teacher and episodes for PETABISYON and Lorna. As an actor, he played lead roles in stage plays like Kamatayan Sa Isang Anyo Ng Rosas (Death In The Form Of A Rose), 1991 and Bacchae, 1992.

Bernal is a tireless and commited educator. He taught film direction to film students of the University of the Philippines and Polytechnic University of the Philippines. He has conducted film and theater workshops and directed plays for school-based theater groups. He has also collaborated with artists from different regions through BUGKOS, the national coordinating center for people's art and literature. A real art crusader, he supported and co-facilitated workshops and critic sessions for aspiring writers until his last days.

to be continued...

See Ishmael Bernal Circa 1980-94

Daluyong! (1971)- Stars Gloria Romero, Rosanna Ortiz, Alona Alegra, Ronaldo Valdez, Arnold Mendoza and Eddie Garcia/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal

El Vibora (1972)- Stars Vic Vargas, Boots Anson-Roa, Edie Garcia, Max Alvarado, Leopoldo Salcedo, Cristina Reyes, Roderick/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal

Inspiration (1972)- Stars Vilma Santos, Jay Ilagan, Carlos Salazar, Merle Tuazon/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal

Till Death Do Us Part (1972)- Stars Hilda Koronel, Victor Laurel, Eddie Garcia, Marissa Delgado, Raul Aragon/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal

Zoom, Zoom, Superman! (1972)- Ariel Ureta, Miss Rita Gomez, Boots anson-Roa, Rosanna Ortiz, Liza Lorena, Celia Rodriguez, Edgar Mortiz, Gina Alajar, Max Alvarado and Gina Pareno/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal, Elwood Perez and Joey Gosiengfiao

Si Popeye atbp (1972)- Ariel Ureta, Aurora Pijuan, Celia Rodriguez, Gina Pareno/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal, Elwood Perez and Joey Gosiengfiao

Now and Forever (1972)- Stars Vilma Santos, Edgar Mortiz, Tommy Abuel, Lorli Villanueva/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal

Huwag Pamarisan: Mister Mo...Lover Boy Ko (1975)- Stars George Estregan, Anna Gonzales, Eddie Garcia, Paraluman, Vic Silayan and Elizabeth Oropesa/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal

Lumapit...Lumayo ang Umaga (1975)- Stars Dante Rivero, Elizabeth Oropesa, George Estregan, Anita Linda, Caridad Sanchez/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal

Ligaw na Bulaklak (1976)- Stars Vic Silayan, Marissa Delgado, Yvonne, Charina Alonzo, Anita Linda, Jun Mariano and Alma Moreno/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal

Tisoy (1976)- Stars Christopher de Leon, Jay Ilagan, Charo Santos, Bert 'Tawa' Marcelo, Lorli Villanueva, Ruffy Mendoza, Moody Diaz/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal

Nunal Sa Tubig (1976)- Stars Elizabeth Oropesa, Daria Ramirez, George Estregan, Ruben Rustia, Ella Luansing/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal

Dalawang Pugad... Isang Ibon (1976)- Stars Romeo Vasquez, Vilma Santos, Mat Ranillo III, Anna Gonzales, Anita Linda/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal

Walang Katapusang Tag-araw (1976)- Stars Charito Solis, Mat Ranillo III, Eddie Garcia, Liza Lorena, Ruel Vernal/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal

Lagi na Lamang ba akong Babae? (1977)- Stars Christopher de Leon, Bembol Roco, Mat Ranillo III, Eddie Gutierrez and Alma Moreno/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal

Ikaw ay Akin (1978)- Stars Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos, Christopher de Leon, Nick Romano, Ellen Esguerra, Zandro Zamora/ Introducing Andrea 'Sandy' Andolong/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal

Isang Gabi sa Iyo... Isang Gabi sa Akin (1978)- Stars Romeo Vasquez, Mat Ranillo III, Alona Alegre, Elizabeth Oropesa/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal

Salawahan (1979)- Stars Miss Rita Gomez, Jay Ilagan, Mat Ranillo III, Andrea Andolong, Mark Gil and Rio Locsin/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal

Menor De Edad (1979)- Stars Amy Austria, Rio Locsin, Vic Silayan, Marco Sison, Sandy Andlong, Dondon Nakar/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal

Boy Kodyak (1979)- Stars Bembol Roco, Charo Santos, Walter Navarro, Ruel Vernal, Raul Aragon, Dick Israel/ Directed by Ishmael Bernal

Filmography (1971-79):

1971- Pagdating sa Dulo
1971- Daluyong
1972- El Vibora
1972- Inspiration
1972- Till Death Do Us Part
1972- Zoom Zoom Superman
1972- Popeye, atbp
1973- Pito ang Asawa Ko
1973- Now and Forever
1973- The Sleeping Dragon
1974- Scotch on the Rocks to Remember, Black Coffee to Forget (unreleased)
1975- Huwag Pamarisan:Mister Mo, Lover Boy Ko
1975- Lumapit…Lumayot ang Umaga
1975- Babaeng Hiwalay sa Asawa (Anna Karenina)
1976- Ligaw na Bulaklak
1976- Tisoy
1976- Nunal sa Tubig
1976- Dalawang Pugad, Isang Ibon
1976- Lahing Pilipino (Bonifacio Episode)
1976- Walang Katapusang Tag-araw
1977- Lagi na lamang ba akong Babae?
1978- Ikaw ay Akin
1979- Menor de Edad
1979- Salawahan
1979- Boy Kodyak
1979- Bakit May Pag-ibig Pa?


Anonymous said...

Favorite ko rin si Bernie. Mabilis ang pacing ng kanyang mga obra compared with Lino B., altho' gusto ko rin si Lino. Napanood ko Yung Pagdating sa Dulo, Himala, Nunal sa Tubig, saka Working Girls...


Bayani Santos Jr. said...

No comparison. Brocka is a good director, but as Art, Bernal is world class. No one beats Bernal as film artist.

Joey Perlado said...

Simon, Do you have the movie poster of AM Production's "Babaeng Hiwalay sa Asawa (Anna Karenina)? Appreciate if you could share it with us. Thank you in advance. Keep safe and take care.

Anonymous said...

Hi Simon, bakit wala yung "Bakit May Pag ibig Pa" na poster?


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