HomeManilavol. 5 no. 1 (2009)

City, Nation, Cinema: Manila’s Representation on Screen

Nick Deocampo

Discipline: History



The subject of Manila-as-city offers a cinematic shortcut in the collective imagination of the Philippines-as-country. The city becomes the country as the Philippines’ premiere capital synecdochically represents the ideals as well as the shortcomings of the country and nation through its imaging on screen. In this study of films made about Manila from the first time motion pictures were shot until the present, a diachronic view of the city is presented as we think through issues of identity, nationalism, national culture, and the post-ness of all these. With valuable insights to be derived from watching a selection of films across the years from samples from the early American newsreels, World War II documentaries and propaganda, gems from the “golden age” of Tagalog cinema, down to the contemporary films of Lino Brocka and his generation, as well as the internationally acclaimed short films and documentaries, this paper will explore the cinematic as well as ideological uses of film in conceiving and challenging the notion of the “Filipino nation” through films that are Manila-centric.