Memories of Overdevelopment is a cinematic journey like no other. It is part history lesson, part home video, part tribute to Yoyoy Villame, and part appreciation of the arts and culture of northern Philippines. This delightful film, 35 years in the making, is the nth iteration of Kidlat Tahimik's chronicles of the adventures of Enrique, a Malay slave who circumnavigated the world. The slave's name may not be that familiar but his master, Ferdinand Magellan, is a household name among Filipinos.
I was elated when I heard the first strains of the Yoyoy Villame ditty, Magellan. Middle-aged viewers like me had fond memories of that song about the demise of the Portuguese explorer. The compilation album containing that song along with Mag-exercise Tayo was played to death in our household during visits of my late grandfather. Lolo Jose was a huge, huge fan of Villame. I think he'll agree with the proposal to make Villame a National Artist.
There is a national artist featured in the film. National Artist Ben Cabrera and his museum are bastions of art in Baguio City. Kidlat Tahimik and his equally artistic sons show off their art installations. Every destination set upon by Enrique and present-day balikbayan counterpart, also named Enrique, is blessed with impressive art pieces. The whole film is a showcase of Filipino pride.
Memories of Overdevelopment (Unang Balikbayan) is an entertaining, indio-genius film. From yoyo to Yoyoy, the film handles Filipino things in a playful, catchy, jocular manner. My favorite scene shows Enrique unleashing a yoyo to kill a pig. The scene is fiercely independent and brave for using a cheap-looking plastic pig in lieu of a real pig. The amazing thing is the scene worked wonders for me. It drove home the major points that the yoyo is originally a weapon and that budgetary constraint is no obstacle to story telling. Besides, no animal was hurt at all.
Kidlat Tahimik espouses the idea that every Filipino has a story to tell. We just need to harness our own imagination. In August 2014, Kidlat Tahimik was honored by the Cinemalaya group for his role in the 'development and propagation of Philippine independent cinema.' Among those who followed his found-footage and video diary style of filmmaking are John Torres and Roxlee. He is very much at home sharing his experiences and indigenous concepts to aspiring filmmakers, who calls him kuya.
Uppermost photo taken by filmmaker H. Calderon