The role of Jose Nepomuceno in the Philippine society : What language did his silent films speak?

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Filmvetenskapliga institutionen


This paper examines the role of the pioneer Filipino filmmaker Jose Nepomuceno and his films in the Philippine quest for independence and in the process of nation-building. As all of Nepomuceno's films are lost, most of the information was gathered from old newspaper articles on microfilm in different archives in Manila. Many of these articles were hitherto undiscovered. Nepomuceno made silent films at a time when the influence of the new coloniser, United States, was growing, and the Spanish language was what unified the intellectual opposition. Previous research on Nepomuceno has focused on the Hispanic influences on his filmmaking, as well as his connections to the stage drama. This paper argues that Nepomuceno created a national consciousness by making films showing native lives and environments, adapting important Filipino novels and plays to the screen and covering important political topics and thereby creating public opinion. Many reviews in the newspapers connected his films to nation-building and independence, as the creation of a national consciousness is a cornerstone in the process of building a nation and defining "Filipino". Furthermore, the films of Nepomuceno helped spreading the Tagalog culture and language to other parts of the Philippines, hence making Tagalog the foundation of the national Filipino language.

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