Shangri-La Plaza Mall welcomed the Chinese New Year with a brilliant display of colors of Chinese culture last January 25, 2017. The Gala Night of the 11th Spring Film Festival (SFF) took off with a bang.
The Gala Night at the Grand Atrium, Shangri-La Mall gave its guests a wide display of paintings to admire, delicious food to enjoy and a host of Celadon members in powdered pink attire to welcome the VIP attendees. The events started off with a crash of cymbals as the lion dancers from the Philippine Tiongson dance group greeted incoming VIPs and other observers.
Dr. Sidney Bata welcomed everyone as the host. Fr. Jett Villarin SJ, president of the Ateneo de Manila University, delivered an opening speech about how the nature of Spring brings people together and allows them to share their views.
Other speakers such as Dr. Rosita Leong and Fr. Ben Nebres followed, sharing their own sentiments about the event and about fostering relationships and understanding between Filipinos and Chinese.
“Through the Spring Film Festival, now on its eleventh year, we are given the chance to get to know it a lot better. As we watch the many stories unfold, I am sure that you are able to catch a glimpse at the fascinating way of life and better understand our fellow Filipino-Chinese brothers and sisters as well,” Dr. Leong said.
After the speeches, Joshe Tiu performed on the saxophone his rendition of “Tong Wa”, a song well known to many Chinese of varying ages. The fashion show that followed showcased the various colors and style of Chinese clothing over the dynasties.
The VIPs expressed their enthusiasm for the success of cultural exchanges such as SFF, especially with current political happenings. Fr. Jett emphasized on the friendship between the Chinese and Filipino communities. “So I hope we continue being open, despite the politics, despite what’s going on out there. The cultural things are the ones that last, they last longer than politics, I assure you. Dynasties come and go, but the culture, the people, is safe.”
Dr. Sidney Bata, the Director of the Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies, talked about how they try to improve the event every year by choosing movies that people would watch and would help connect the two countries (i.e. China and Philippines) more.
Dr. Jane Yugioksing, Chinese Studies Program Chair, emphasized on the cultural significance of the event, which is why the Gala Night happened in an open area, “for the reason that more people will be able to witness the event.” She expressed that the fashion show was a good start for the night and hopes more people will see the expanse of Chinese culture. “Chinese culture goes beyond the clothings and it also goes beyond the film you watch. There is a lot of avenue that you can actually see in the films. So I hope that we are able to achieve our goals and visions, like why we actually have a center that is focused on Chinese studies.”
“We can see how people subconsciously embody our culture whether or not they are Chinese-Filipinos. This is something shared all throughout generations, and it just keeps on developing and integrating itself with the culture we have here in the Philippines,” shared Stephanie Sayson, President of Celadon. “From that, this shared humanity can be discovered as they learn to understand, respect, appreciate, and even embody what the Chinese-Filipino culture is.”
The ushers then led the guests to the cinema area for the start of the premiere film, “Everybody’s Fine.” The films for the remainder of the Film Festival are A Complicated Story, Horseplay, Red Amnesia, Wolf Totem and The Book of Love.
As the event begun to die down and the satisfied volunteers and organizers begun to pack up, project head Heidy Guevarra mentions how the 11th Spring Film Festival was a challenge. “It was [a challenge] to innovate the project this year and to entice people with something new. A lot of time was spent brainstorming as there were a lot of apprehensions regarding the prestige of the ideas. And we were very happy of the results,” she said, referring to the photo booth and game booths that peppered the atrium. She then ends with nothing but thanks for everyone involved, “All of these would not be possible without the help of Sir Sid, the Director of [the] Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies, and our dedicated core team members.”
Fellow project head Dale Chua excitedly adds to that, with mentioning that more guests came this year, and ends with a statement on how being a project head finally paid off seeing the work everyone had done. “Ever since I joined Celadon and knew of the Spring Film Festival, I always thought of it as one of the few projects that truly exposes the Celadon organization to the outside world with our values and professionalism. Overall, it did live up to my expectations and beyond, as it was a truly successful event,” he said.
To know more about the Spring Film Festival, visit https://www.facebook.com/SpringFilmFestival/
Written by Matthew Chua and Joshua Chan.
Photos by Mark Chua, Joshua Tan, and Mark Yu.
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Watch Chinatown TV’s feature of the Spring Film Festival here: