Bringing light to cinema: The makers behind “Liwanag”

By Myr Jdy c. Mahinay

Arby and Christine Laraño with veteran actor, Eddie Garcia. (Image Source: CFO)

“Liwanag” is a documentary film about a veteran photojournalist and a well-known street photographer, Luis Liwanag, struggling in his life, having one of his eyes deteriorating due to glioma, while continuing his career with passion and finesse.

Behind the film’s curtains is married couple, Arby and Christine Laraño who co-directed the film. Their hard work and preparation never fell in vain for “Liwanag” won “Jury Prize” and “Best Director” awards from the Singkuwento International Film Festival, Manila, Philippines (SIFFMP) on February 18, 2019.  The film also bagged the “Jury Prize” at the Pelikultura: The Calabarzon Film Festival 2019 Los Baños, Laguna on March 14.  The film was screened in the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, and at the Pasalidahay sa Tagaytay in Tagaytay City.

The main aim of the film is to make the audiences feel the challenges hurdled by a person who wants to live his life to the fullest despite his unfavorable condition. The filmmakers made the film out of their curiosity’ peek, acknowledging the condition of Mr. Liwanag, who, despite the challenge by his sight, was able to live by his passion.

“Pa’no, kapag ang isang aspekto ng ikinabubuhay mo, yung passion mo, pa’no pag-iyon ang mawala anong gagawin mo?” [“What if, one aspect of your livelihood, your passion, was lost – what would you do?”]:  this was a strong motivation for them to start the film.

The production of the film was inspired by what the couples learned from Mr. Liwanag, himself: “Tulad sa picture na ito… di mo makikita lahat…pero lahat mararamdaman mo, lahat pwede maisip.” [“Like in this photo… you cannot see everything… but you can feel everything… You can think of everything”].  Thus, in the film you would find that there were no talking heads.  They ended the film as a cycle, a continuous process, like Mr. Laraño said “Liwanag is a moment…” showing how Luis Liwanag continuously does his career while carrying heavy loads of his sight.

Being a filmmaker was not an easy role.  Mr. Laraño advised to aspiring filmmakers: “Kung gusto mong maging filmmaker kailangan mong paunlarin ang kakayahan mo hanggang sa pinakakaya mo.” [“If you want to become a filmmaker, you must develop your capability to the fullest.”]  He further suggested that a filmmaker should manifest and bring his/her style which is his/her voice different than others.

Mr. and Mrs. Laraño are part-time employees of New Era University.  They help in documenting university events and training of students in the multimedia.