1992 Aliwan Paradise by Mike De Leon

To celebrate the latest black comedy from the Palace, Duterte’s SONA (State of the Nation Address) on July 27 2020, I am uploading the newly remastered version of “Aliwan Paradise,” the Philippine episode I directed in 1992. It was originally part of the four-country anthology film, “Southern Winds,” produced in 1992 by the Japan Foundation in cooperation with NHK Enterprises. “Aliwan Paradise,” now a stand alone 28-minute film is an absurd comedy set in a semi-futuristic Philippine limbo – what the country may have become in its insatiable addiction to excessive entertainment.

The film is about two luckless former provincial sweehearts who meet at a Job Audition marathon organized by the fictitious Ministry of Entertainment (something we should seriously contemplate establishing today). In the film, the nation is desperate in its search for the ultimate form of entertainment as if that achievement would validate its reason to survive and be recognized as a thriving nation, rather than a failed state.

It would be fascinating to make a new version today with a complete set of new phantasmagoric characters including the coronavirus as well as the deadlier viruses that infect the country everywhere we turn—a congress that kills oligarchs but creates new ones, a judiciary that is complicit in weaponizing the law, the police that continues to nurture ‘tokhang’ culture, the movie and television industries that claim to uplift our lives by standing for truth but turn away from the biggest truth (authoritarian rule) or lie (read: MMFF) and continue to inundate us with mindless entertainment. Don’t get me started on the Chinese menace. This is tiring. Just enjoy the film! – Mike De Leon


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