On September 6, 2014, we were required to watch the documentary War is a Tender Thing as the topic for our first blog in NSTP. I had an exam on that same day so I watched the documentary with no knowledge of what topic it was going to focus on. Surprisingly, I had a good time watching the documentary because there were certain points in it that enlightened me on particular topics.
About the Documentary
The documentary was made by UP Graduate Adjani Arumpac who is a filmmaker from Mindanao and a graduate of Film and Audio Visual Communications. The said documentary had won a special mention in the New Asian Currents competition. War is a Tender Thing is not Arumpac’s first film; her works also include the Walai (a documentary on Muslim women in Mindanao) and Nanay Mameng, (a documentary on the Filipino leader Carmen Deunida). Arumpac’s War is a Tender Thing is a personal documentary of the director that glimpse on the situation of the on-going war between the Moros and the Christians in the southern Philippines that is in the perspective of her family and their background.
What made the Documentary Great?
Techniques Used (Music and Visual)
The documentary was not only great because of the subject it focuses on but also because of the techniques used to deliver its messages. What I like about it was the music that it used and the simplicity and truthfulness that the documentary has. The choice of music was I think appropriate (since the setting is in Mindanao) so it is fitting that the music is the traditional beating of the drums. Another thing that I like was the use of the family’s background and situation (a micro unit) to see the whole picture (conflict of Christians and Moros).
As I said, one other thing that I liked about the documentary was because of the simplicity and truthfulness it used. The concepts (simplicity and truthfulness) that the documentary was projecting were consistent all throughout. This can be seen or highly supported by the facial expressions and the emotions that the interviewees had when they were being asked by the narrator. Happiness, Sadness, Regret, Weary, Indifference can all be seen etched on their faces while they were speaking. But the prominent emotion was that they were quite sad and weary of what has happened in the past and what is still happening right now.
However, it was not only because of how the documentary was made that made it great to watch but also because it exposes some of the truths that is happening in Mindanao and important realizations that all Filipinos should have.
1. First Point. One is that the inhabitants of Mindanao are not the ones who are reaping its rich lands. Mindanao with its vast land make up one third of the country and deep in its land are natural oils. In the documentary, it was clearly demonstrated that the highways are just used mostly by trucks loaded with the resources stolen from Mindanao. Isn’t it sad that even though the place is rich with resources, the rightful heirs are not benefiting from it when they should be the first one to have first access?
2. Second point. Another truth that the documentary exposes is the MILF agreement, if Christians and Muslims are in favor of the said agreement. The director’s father who is a Muslim had said that the agreement is just a temporary phase between the war and the negotiating table and in time will just result into war again. On the other hand, the mother who is a Christian is indifferent to the agreement and believes that the two religions can co-exist as long as each gives respect to the other. I think that a large portion of the population of the Philippines embodies what the mother’s belief is. Indifference. Most Filipinos really right now are not anymore aware of the social issues (even though they are relevant to the subject).
3. Third point. The fact that the director’s parents are a Christian and a Muslim, this situation can be used to analyze if religion is the cause of the conflict between the two. But the situation of the parents who separated due to individual preferences disproved otherwise. It was said by the uncle that the reason for the conflict is not religion but politics and furthered supported his claim by retelling the story that when Japanese came to the Philippines, his Muslim father helped the Christians. With this, we can infer that religion is not the root cause of war but it is being used by certain people (politicians) to shadow the real intention – political power.
4. Fourth point. Along the documentary, it was said that there are only three phases of Human Life: Birth, Love in between and Death. So while waiting for the third phase, will you waste your time fighting wars or conflicts that can be easily resolved? Time is ticking away and one second wasted means one step closer to death. We have a choice. It’s just a matter of choosing wisely.
5. Fifth point. The well-made documentary on its own way reminded us of what it really means to be a Filipino. Is it because of one religion? Is it because we’re hospitable or happy (masayahin)? No. What makes us Filipinos is not because of religion or any other for that matter. What make us Filipinos are the love and our unending debt that we all owe to our country. So, the conflict with Christians and Moros should stop (not only because people are hurt and weary). And stop separating Mindanao from the Philippines. Because we all share the same identity. We are all Filipinos that make up ONE Country.
– Pilapil, Kathleen C.