Sulu 1999: Memories of a Forgotten War Part 1

In 1999, We starting film the second part of the film “Memories of a Forgotten War” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0810083/), which is directed by Sari Dalena and Camilla Griggers. The film was about the atrocities of the American Occupation of the Philippines, especially those that continued long after declaration of the end of the Philippine-American War (1899-1902) or called the “Philippine Uprising” by the Americans. Our focal point for the second part of the film was the “Battle of Bud Dajo” (1906) in Sulu, in which the Americans bombarded the villages in Mount Dajo killing 1000 people, with women and children among the dead.

Lead by a young warrior turn Ulama, hike into the side of Bud Dajo, and pray at the grave of the fallen.
Lead by a young warrior turn Ulama, hike into the side of Bud Dajo, and pray at the grave of the fallen.

While filming the reenactments, spirits of the dead began possessing the actors. After rituals by the local imam and ulama calmed the people, we proceeded to the graves of the dead to ask for understanding and permission to continue the film.

At the last day of filming, the lead actress dances the Pangalay, facing the mountain of Bud Dajo
At the last day of filming, the lead actress dances the Pangalay, facing the mountain of Bud Dajo

Secondary cinematographer, Regiben O. Romana films the pangalay dancer and lead actress, Karsum, with the Mount Dajo (Bud Dajo) in the background. We were supposed to film the reenactments of the 1906 massacre at the actual mountain, but the local Marine commander prevented us.

Taking a break, after two weeks of shooting straight in the mountains
Taking a break, after two weeks of shooting straight in the mountains

We were filming most of the film in a village in Patikul, and a few scene up in the mountain. We had to trek everyday to the locations, often passing through thick forests. The area is a hot zone, which we were lucky enough to film during an informal cease-fire. Our secondary cinematographer, Regiben O. Romana, takes a much needed nap after a long day of multiple location shoots in the mountain.

Another shot of the lead actress, with Bud Dajo in the background
Another shot of the lead actress, with Bud Dajo in the background

Another photograph of Regiben O. Romana filming the lead actress. Al our talents were from the vicinity, from students at the MSU (Mindanao State University) Jolo and some cadre of the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front).

Chatting before all hell breaks loose
Chatting before all hell breaks loose

Our secondary cinematographer, Regiben O. Romana, chats with the director, Sari Dalena, at the camp site in Patikul. Although we were filming about a massacre in another mountain area (Bud Dajo), the area of Patikul is no stranger to violence. Regular skirmishes happen in this area, between government forces and Moro separatists. The most infamous of these bloody affairs is the 1977 Patikul massacre, in which Brig. Gen. Teodulfo Bautista were killed amidst a peace talk.

Photograph by Boy Yniguez

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