LAOAG CITY – For the second consecutive year, Actors Q won first place at the annual Lilia Cuntapay Short Horror Film Contest, a highlight of the Semana ti Ar-aria Halloween Bash held by the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) last October 26 to November 5.
Their film titled “Areglo” tackled social issues in addition to the horror element, such as the controversial “tanim-droga,” poverty, and bullying.
“Na-inspire ako sa thought na, ‘Words and actions can make or destroy you.’ We are responsible for one another,” said Mark Moneda, who did the screenplay and editing.
“Yung mga ginagawa mo sa kapwa mo can affect them… Hindi natin alam na yung mga sinasabi natin sa kanila, like ‘Bobo,’ ‘Tanga,’ ‘Walang silbi’ – ay malaki pala yung epekto sa kanila.”
Flashback scenes in the film show the main character, Lester, being verbally abused by his own family. These had built up and led to the violent aftermath, setting the stage for the film.
Moneda added, “Ang inspirasyon ko doon sa horror is that para sa akin, you are the real monster. You are your monster. Ang horror ay hindi lang paranormal entities, kundi it’s inside us. ‘Yon yung totoong nakakatakot: yung nasa loob mismo ng tao.”
The film earned him the Best Cinematography and Best Sound Effects awards, while Luigi Ariz Vanz Arizabal (Lester) was recognized as Best Actor.
Their group had first joined the Lilia Cuntapay film fest in 2015. They only competed again in 2017, bagging first place with “Sinapupunan,” which featured elements of abortion and suicide.
Other winning films this year, respectively from first to third runner-up, were: Yang Productions’ “Sibrong” (directed by Kernel Louis Tumacder), Samtoy Productions’ “Jesus is Missing” (directed by Gabb Gantala), and Raniag Group’s “Silaw” (directed by Arven John Tolentino).
Like “Areglo,” “Jesus is Missing” garnered three special awards: Best Director and Best Screenplay went to Gantala, while Hanna Baptista was Best Actress.
“Kayang-kaya na ng mga Ilocano”
Moneda encourages fellow filmmakers to be even more open-minded and confident in the stories they want to tell:
“Gawin na lang ninyo ang lahat ng gusto ninyong gawin. Maging matapang kayo. But,” he emphasized, “never misuse or abuse your freedom of expression.”
“Sana rin, mas bigyan pa ng opportunities yung mga filmmaker natin dito kasi lahat naman, may potential. Ang daming sumali – there were 18 entries. Hindi joke iyon. Kayang-kaya na ng mga Ilocano,” he said, adding that the province is ripe for filmmaking and acting workshops, and that PGIN film contests for other genres could encourage even more participation and growth in the local creative industry.
While Moneda, Arizabal, and others behind “Areglo” have been enjoying performance arts and filming since they were classmates in high school, they only formed Actors Q when they joined the 2015 film fest. (Mizpah Grace Castro, PGIN-CMO)