Cinema as Wartime Memory: Discourses on the Pacific War Japanese in Contemporary Philippine Cinema (1972-2004)
Vincent Quintos Silarde
This research analyzed the images of the wartime Japanese in contemporary Philippine cinema. The films were taken as a form of prosthetic memories and discourses that serve the purpose of constructing national identity and mobilizing the nation towards the achievement of certain economic and political objectives in contemporary times. It was found out that the cultural trajectory of films about the Japanese occupation followed that of the Philippine nation in general. Discursive and epistemic shifts in Philippine-Japan relations served as the political imperative for these prosthetic memories that can be classified into three thematic discourses on the Japanese: a) a class memory, b) a misunderstood identity, c) the anti-thesis of Americans. Furthermore, feminized images of the Philippines are strongly articulated in these films that generally suggest the forgetting and forgiving of Japanese atrocities. It is argued that these compromised memories are neither spontaneous nor random as they are all showing symptoms of the nation’s anxiety and discomfort with historical memories that would upset existing patterns and modes of transacting national identity. They are analogous or symptomatic to the discourses espoused by the Philippine state. The export of labor and the submission of the Philippine nation to foreign domination, in particular, are given push by these memories, which paint a benevolent and desirable image of Japan. The logics of imperialism and class domination, which is prevalent in mainstream Philippine society, are also evident in the manner by which the prosthetic memories are constructed and disseminated from the point of view of characters that represent specific class and supposedly “national” interests. The research concludes that the Philippine neocolonial experience has not only rendered it economically and politically powerless but also consigned its memory and imagination to a state of un-freedom. Thus, it is contended that the practical value of historical memories will be secured only up to the extent that people are willing to fight or struggle for it alongside their campaign to achieve economic and political emancipation.
Subject Index : War films, World War, 1939-1945—Motion pictures and the war