Before Citizen Jake landed in theaters nationwide last Wednesday, it had been more than 18 years since its director, Mike de Leon, released a film. His last full-length feature was Bayaning 3rd World, a metacinematic examination of the legend of Jose Rizal, which was first released in 1999 and then again in 2000.
So while De Leon is widely regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers of his time, Citizen Jake sees him facing a new audience in 2018, including many who were too young or perhaps not even born yet when some of his greatest works were released. And it's understandable if, as one of his new and younger audiences, you aren't yet familiar with his body of work outside of this new movie.
Still, Citizen Jake and its director are being lauded and discussed for a reason. De Leon has a history of making important films—films with something of substance to say—and this is only the latest. And to better understand and appreciate Jake, it helps to get familiar with De Leon's other films as well.
So if you're interested, Black Maria Cinema, a microcinema in Mandaluyong, is giving you the opportunity to do just that. For a full week starting tomorrow (Wednesday, May 30), they'll be screening three of De Leon's previous works: Kung Mangarap Ka't Magising (1977), Kakabakaba Ka Ba? (1980), and Hindi Nahahati Ang Langit (1985). All three have been restored by ABS-CBN for opportunities like this, in which new audiences can continue to appreciate important works in the canon of Filipino cinema.
But before you start planning your viewing schedules, here's a little backgrounder on each of the three:
Kung Mangarap Ka't Magising (1977)
A coming-of-age drama that follows Joey (played by a young and unmustached Christopher de Leon), a student in Baguio, who begins to fall for Anna (played by Hilda Coronel), a married woman visiting from Manila. Conflict and romance ensue as they unfurl each others' past lives.
Kakabakaba Ka Ba? (1980)
A musical romcom about Johnny (also Christopher de Leon), who is unwittingly embroiled in a conflict that involves Japanese gangsters, a Chinese crime syndicate, and the Catholic Church. The film is often said to comment on the enduring grip of outside forces on the Philippines.
Hindi Nahahati Ang Langit (1985)
A film adaptation of komiks that takes a strange incestuous turn when two stepsiblings—Noel (also Christopher de Leon) and Melody (Lorna Tolentino) who have despised each other begin to realize that their relationship is much more complicated than that.