Films do not allow for long-term, liberative transformation. If they did, the Filipino movie fan would have drastically altered the politico-social landscape. It is precisely on this premise of ideological ambiguations that the Frankfurt School started to question the so-called “culture industry” and its power or non-power to lead us to greener pastures. We know better: popular culture delivered via the electronic and print media has made us laugh ourselves to death.
– From Interventions (PUP Press: 1998, p.245)
Garcellano/Balibar on the Erasure and Disavowal of Violence as Violence
I would say that what seems to characterize the world-scale dimensions [la mondialité] of the ‘crisis’ – which is at once local and global, and is not foreign to the eschatological connotations it takes on in our discourses and conscience – is the superposition of two ‘phenomena’ that seem at first sight heterogeneous, but that we can try to relate to one another in a quasi-analytical, or perhaps pseudo-analytical, schema. The first is the emergence of an economy of generalized violence that cuts across borders and combines endemic wars with other forms of exterminating violence – indeed, eliminating violence, since what is involved is not death in the strict sense, even if there are at this moment many deaths, under different modalities.  Exclusion, for example, or, perhaps even better, to use the category that Saskia Sassen recently deployed with impressive force and scope, the generalized expulsion of individuals and groups from their ‘place’ in the world, in any world whatever.  No one doubts that violence is immemorial, that it assumes myriad forms and has myriad causes, or that it is an anthropological characteristic of the human being as such. But the violence that seems able to cut across any and every border, and indeed to use borders themselves as the instruments of its own generalization, is in a way a new phenomenon whose novelty rests on the fact that every person may in time be potentially confronted by it. (link)
A still from The Fatima Buen Story (Mario O’Hara / PH / 1994)
In a sense, Fatima Buen is symptomatic of how violence in Philippine cinema has worked to the entrenchment of fascist powers as well as state discourse on aesthetics and functions, where the disavowal of violence is the very affirmation of it, thus enabling the consuming public to suffer violence, denounce it, and accept it once more in a ritual so catatonic as visiting the Church every Sun– day where redemption is implied on a seemingly recurrent cycle. It is precisely on the banalization through repetition that the state machine replenishes itself, energizes itself, and rules the crowd in a never-ending turn, as it were, of the bizarre carousel of life, death, ennui, eros.
Such a film as Fatima Buen in fact supplements the denial of liberative violence, rechanneling eros and visions toward the extra-communal formulation of violence. Redemption — as in most Filipino films — is a personalized, and apolitical concern and does not trace itself to the hegemonic order that triggers it.
– Interventions (PUP Press, 1998, p.244)