Fifty Shades of Philippine Art: Philippine Cinematic Art

Title: Print


Fifty Shades of Philippine Art: Philippine Cinematic Art
Authors: Andrea L. Peterson, Gaspar A. Vibal, Christopher A. Datol, and Nicanor A. Lajom

With a foreword by Moira Lang 

and a Preface by Soledad S. Reyes, PhD

Cinema is considered an artistic medium, but is it an art? During cinema’s bourgeoning decades, Marxist critics argued that cinema cannot be art because it is first and foremost a commercial product. In their influential book, Dialectic of Enlightenment, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer depicted cinema as an instrument of capitalist control that withered “imagination and spontaneity.” 

Yet great art often seeks to be architectonic, to embrace other arts. It is capacious; it crosses artistic boundaries; it engages mind, imagination, and heart; and it rewards multiple encounters. All this can be said of great cinema.

Philippine Cinematic Art examines how movies have mediated wondrously between high and low culture by providing profound narratives that resonate with a wider and more diverse audience. In such encounters, its invisible spectators experience what the film critic David Thomson calls the “stealthy rapture” of cinema with its capacity to engage both heart and intellect and move audiences to a deeper appreciation of the human condition and toward a refinement of their sense of beauty.


Susan Sontag once said that cinema is “the Art of the twentieth century,” not only because of its limitless ability to mimic reality but also due to its transformative powers of turning what was once private public, becoming in effect not just an artistic medium but also the creator and harbinger of cultural fantasy. Philippine Cinematic Art cultivates an appreciation of film and its artistic aspects, including its history, conventions, styles, genres, and narratives.

While analyzing Philippine films as the work of directors with clearly personal styles, it also looks at its audiences and their reception to film as well as commonly held conceptions of what is national cinema in an increasingly globalized world.

The long-decried death of Philippine cinema as foretold at the start of the twenty-first century did not come to pass. Instead, the past two decades have sustained a creative boom in the dizzying welter of mainstream and indie movies that exhibit a diversity and conflation of genres and styles. This explosion of cinematic works that are outrageous and queer, radically political, quixotic, as well as quizzical have pushed the boundaries of Philippine cinema and heightened its visibility in the international scene. This book will help lovers of Philippine cinema “see” in new and wondrous ways.


This book is an incisive and thoughful discussion on the inspiring, versatile, and often subversive nature of Philippine cinematic art. It tackles cinema as an artistic medium that dynamically purveys different representations of Philippine reality and fantasy while also focusing on the bold artistry that characterizes truly great cinema.

- Raya Martin, Filmmaker


Philippine Cinematic Art is the latest addition to the body of critical writing that not only examines the complex evolution of the form, but locates the individuals and organizations that have helped define the industry through the years.... Well-researched and well-written, each chapter contributes to a much-needed holistic perspective that views Philippine cinema as the result of the confluence between aesthetics and politics.

- From the Preface of Soledad S. Reyes, PhD, Ateneo de Manila University


Andrea L. Peterson has followed Philippine popular culture through her lifelong interest in comics. In 2019 she wrote Francisco V. Coching, a biographical study of the National Artist for Visual Arts. She took interdisciplinary studies at Ateneo de Manila University and earned her master’s degree in creative writing at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Gaspar A. Vibal has written and edited articles and books on Philippine genealogy, Hispano-Filipino literature, and the Spanish colonial era. He has pursued his lifelong interest in Philippine cinema by following Tagalog movies as TV reruns from the 1960s through the 1970s and Philippine art-house cinema at international film festivals from the 1980s.

Christopher A. Datol previously worked at the Manila Bulletin for nine years, where he wrote for the lifestyle beat. He was also a consultant of various public relations companies and a lifestyle magazine editor before assuming managerial roles in the publishing industry. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of the Philippines, Diliman.

Nicanor C. Lajom was a full-time high school and elementary school teacher before moving on to work in the publishing industry where he has amassed over ten years of experience in editing educational and technical books and magazines. He graduated from Trinity University of Asia with a bachelor’s degree in English.



50 Shades of Philippine Art is a series of affordable and concisely written books on fine, modern, or popular art. Among its titles are Isabelo Tampinco by Santiago Pilar (2018), Toti Cerda by Laya Boquiren (2019), Francisco V. Coching by Andrea Peterson (2019), Damián Domingo by Luciano P.R. Santiago (2020), and Philippine Cinematic Art (2020) by Christopher Datol, Andrea Peterson, Gaspar A. Vibal, and Nick Lajom.

You may also like

Recently viewed