Saturday, December 5, 2009


Anyone who has seen SAKADA raise your fist!

I have and I raise my fist to toast to it. It have seen it only recently. A friend very kindly gave me a copy recorded from a tv special of TV5 then ABC5. It was almost like a discussion as the special also featured interviews from people who know filipino film history and the film's director (Behn Cervantes), and actors (Robert Arevalo, Rosa Rosal etc). They gave they're insight on the film's topic and the fate it suffered during its time.

Sakada, produced by the now-defunct Sagisag Films, was part of the second Golden Age of Philippine Cinema (1970's-1980's) when films made were mostly part to the so-called protest cinema, tackling issues relevant to the current political climate which is Martial Law.

It was on January 1976, two weeks after a successful run when the Marcos Administration ordered it shut down and confiscated.

Sakada is a film about the Filipino's basic problem, land. It opens with this ...

It proceeds to document the stages of sugar production once in the mill then shifts to the unrest outside where a sakada was shot to death by one of the hacienda's guards.

A sakada is a farmer who works in a sugarcane field, harvesting it during the months of October to December. After this period, some sakadas who already live in the hacienda plant crops to tide them over until the next sugarcane harvest. Those who came from other provinces go back home. They are seasonal farm workers without any benefits. The plight of the sakadas is further explained as the movie develops, exposing along the way the vast gap between the rich and the poor.

After the death of Arsenio Del Mundo, the movie follows the life of his bereaved family as they cope with his death and their life as a family at the mercy the haciendero's family.

The film documents how a family always played with by fate seeks to transform their
sorry plight. Ester (Hilda Koronel), after being heartbroken and seeing how his elder was brother was duped for being so trusting, decided that she wouldn't suffer again. She became a prostitute who sells her body but not her heart and soul. David (Bembol Roco), taken under the wing of a progressive Catholic priest, found the road to priesthood wanting and took a different road. Badong (Robert Arevalo), a practical thinker, resented his mother's decision to use the abuloy to send David and Ester to school. He eventually joined the union seeing no other way out of their miserable life in the hacienda but through an organized effort to advance the sakadas' demands. Flores (Rosa Rosal), Arsenio's widow, was plagued by her children's state and how life turned out for them. She also joined the union, delivering a fiery speech about the women's role in uplifting all of their lives.

29 years after Sakada was first shown, the film remains very relevant. It still depicts the microcosm of Philippine society where the rich enjoy life and the poor takes whatever was left of it.

Land reform being the topic at the very heart of the film still has not seen any improvement and even suffered a grave misstep when the compulsary sale of land was taken out of CARP's provisions. The problem of the sakadas, as representative of the peasantry, still persist as evidenced by the Hacienda Luisita massacre a few years back. Today, they still hold fast to their dreams of one day owning the land they have tilled for so long and continue to fight fo it.

Sakada is a film they should make more of today in light of the present economic and political situation.

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