“Bontoc Eulogy” Review
“Bontoc Eulogy” is a 1995 film directed by Marlon Fuentes, a Philippine-born artist. The film describes search for the person’s identity and heritage through the lens of the story of an unnamed narrator who is an immigrant from Philippines.
He wants to understand his cultural background by investigating the life of his grandfather who disappeared after the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.The unnamed narrator feels that he does not belong to any place, neither to America nor to Philippines, and wants to understand his roots (Bontoc Eulogy). The story of this man describes the hardships that immigrants face. They want to feel the sense of belonging, but they are detached from their ancestor’s culture and have not yet integrated into the new country and its traditions. The fact that the narrator remains unnamed throughout the entire movie accompanied by specific ways of events presentation in the form of mockumentary allows the viewers to associate themselves with the narrator and explore their own relations with their motherland (Fuentes 118).
It is especially true for Filipino-Americans, since the movie is centered on this culture.By creating this fictional story and intermingling it with the elements of documentary (Fuentes 116-117), Fuentes displays the destructive influence of the Western culture on other societies and the inhumane treatment of them. Filipino people were brought to the World’s Fair as an exhibit, as circus animals. Visitors of the exhibit were entertained by their strange rituals, while the Filipino people were in fact mourning their dead and did not aim at amusing the public. The exhibit wanted to show how barbaric and undeveloped the Filipinos were in comparison with the civilized Western world. The film portrays what lies behind the World’s Fair to prove that it is in fact the Western civilization that is barbaric. The inhuman living and transportation, humiliation, and mistreatment of the sacred rituals of Filipino people showcased that civilization spoils people and leads only to ignorance and self-satisfaction.
All in all, the film portrays the hardships and struggles of Filipino immigrants in search for their identity and place in the world and the barbaric state of the Western civilization.
Bontoc Eulogy. USA, Philippines: Marlon Fuentes, 1995. Film.Fuentes, Marlon. “Extracts from an Imaginary Interview: Questions and Answers About Bontoc Eulogy”.
F Is for Phony: Fake Documentary and Truth’s Undoing. Ed. Alexandra Juhasz and Jesse Lerner. NED - New edition. Vol. 17. University of Minnesota Press, 2006. 116–129. …