Stories of grief and hope 30 years on: 'Writing Thirty' revisits 1990 Baguio earthquake

Josiah Antonio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 14 2020 06:34 PM | Updated as of Jul 14 2020 09:23 PM

Writing Thirty documentary poster

MANILA — To commemorate the 1990 Luzon earthquake, a documentary entitled “Writing Thirty” has collated the stories of 30 people who were at the center of the tragedy. 

The documentary, directed by Angelo Aurelio, featured 30 people living in Baguio who narrated their stories of “hope, grief, friendship, sky rocketing careers, temporary failures, and triumphs of the spirit, all intertwined in a pattern of a grand metanarrative.”

“Karamihan sa mga nakapanayam ko ay mga journalistang beterano na sa larangan. Batid ko ang hirap nila sa pagbabalita ang pagsusulat [sa panahong iyom] Ngayon, ako naman bilang artist ang magtatanong sa sariling kwento nito,” Aurelio told ABS-CBN News.

(Most of my interviewees are veteran journalists. I am with them in their hardships to report and write during that time. Now, as an artist, will be asking about their own stories.)

“Marami din dito ay mga artist at guro. Tungkol ito sa buhay nila, buhay ng isang komunidad, na marahil salamin na rin ng isang bansa,” he added. 

(Many of them are artists and teachers. This is a story about their lives, the life of a community, that might be the reflection of a country.)

Among the 30 veteran journalists, pioneering artists, educators and Baguio locals interviewed are:

  1. JJ Landingin (Sunstar/Manila Bulletin) 
  2. Nonnette Bennett (Midland Courier) 
  3. Luchie Maranan (Palanca Winning Writer, Dap Ayan ti Kultura ti Kordilyera) 
  4. Frank Cimatu (Palanca Winning Poet/Baguio Chronicle/Rappler) 
  5. Raymundo Rovillos (Chancellor, University of the Philippines Baguio) 
  6. Rafael Resuello (Survivor) 
  7. Lynette Carantes-Bibal (Theater Pioneer) 
  8. Patrick Okubo (Midland Courier) 
  9. Julia Agnaonao-Baeyens(Film/Urban Gardening Advocate) 
  10. Art Tibaldo (Media Historian) 
  11. Roland Bay-an (Senior Baguio Artist) 
  12. Catherine Tibayan (former faculty of Mass Communication Department of Saint Louis University) 
  13. Mauricio Domogan (former Mayor and Congressman, Lone District of Baguio) 
  14. Ric Maniquis (Veteran Photographer) 
  15. Evangeline Ariaga (Social Worker) 
  16. Marie Castro (Film and Broadcast) 
  17. Roland Rabang (Baguio Chronicle/UP Baguio) 
  18. Pigeon Lobien (Philippine News Agency) 
  19. Aurora Alambra (former UN Correspondent, Iraq and Afganistan) 
  20. Herminio Bautista (Survivor) 
  21. Helen Tibaldo (Philippine Information Agency -Cordillera) 
  22. March Fianza (Veteran Journalist/Baguio Chronicle)
  23. Consolacion De Guzman (former principal, Baguio Central School) 
  24. Bonifacio Dela Peña (City Administrator) 
  25. Mau VICTA (former film Lagarista/Business Mirror) 
  26. Kigao Rosimo (Pioneer Baguio Artist) 
  27. Willie Magtibay (13 Artist Awardee) 
  28. Darius Bajo (GMA News) 
  29. Vladimir CAYABAS (Radio) 
  30. Kidlat Tahimik (National Artist for Film)

Aurelio, a 35-year old visual and theater artist and filmmaker from Baguio City, said he wanted to show the realities of the tragedy as he personally experienced the 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

“Limang taong gulang ako noon nung nangyari ang lindol. Hindi nagkakaiba ang krisis na nararanasan natin ngayon sa kung ano ang nangyari noon,” the artist said.

(I was 5 years old when the earthquake occurred. The crisis that we are facing right now is not that different compared to what we are experiencing right now.)

"Bilang kwentista, minsan, mahirap na ang maniwala sa kwento kathang isip, kasinungalingan, panglibang. Gusto ko ng kwentong totoo, kaya gumawa ako ng dokyu," he added. 

(As a storyteller, sometimes, it is hard to believe on stories based on imagination, lies and entertainment. I want the true story, that’s why I made the documentary.)

Life and humanity will always be the highlight of calamities, he added. 

“Pansin ko lang, ‘pag sumapit ang delubyo, walang mataas walang simple, walang makapangyarihan, walang mayaman. Buhay at pakikipagkapwa lamang ang mananatiling mahalaga sa huli,” he said.

(As I observed, during calamities, it doesn't matter if you are powerful or rich. Life and humanity will only be the things that are important in the end.)

Aurelio said the documentary will be publicly shown on Thursday at Baguio City Hall at 2 pm and 4 pm.

He added that they are still coordinating with the Department of Education and National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office so that the film could be shown nationwide.