War is a Tender Thing Director’s Statement


As part of the Contemporary Essay Film Programme we are screening War is a Tender Thing Adjani Arumpac. Adjani kindly sent us the following directors statement:

I never met Modesto and Macaurog. Of course. Modesto is the grandfather of my maternal grandmother. Macaurog is the father of my paternal grandfather. That our ancestors are essentially strangers to us is quite perplexing. The familial is not necessarily familiar. But how they weigh in, more so in absence.

In my documentary film, War is a Tender Thing, I reveal the narrative of a very long war in the Philippines through my family’s memories of struggle. The battlefield is the place where I grew up—the Land of Promise or Mindanao, Philippines. Digging deep into the history of integration of cultures brought together by a state-sponsored land resettlement project in the 1930s, I arrive at ground zero—the massive migration within the country wherein ancestral Muslim and indigenous peoples’ lands were given by the Philippine government to Christian settlers from the capital.

The result was a war among the peoples that raged on until now, almost half a century later. The ease with which fond memory flows belies its context. Modesto, a Christian; and Macaurog, a Muslim, were both good husbands and fathers and grandfathers. For their family, they were gentle providers and fierce protectors. But their very survival makes up for the endless war in that land they both call home. My forefathers were pawns in a vicious sport by the colonial and, now, neocolonial powers. Modesto had the courage to move and settle. Macaurog had the strength to stay. Theirs is a fight for respite. But this narrative has been buried under decades of mainstream media misrepresentation as a war drenched only and only in violence and blood, wherein the men and women are rendered only as statistics—faceless and nameless.

Modesto’s great granddaughter is my mother. Macaurog’s grandson is my father. I am Muslim. I am Christian. How does one retell the story of a war so firmly entrenched in the quotidian it has become the norm? How does one redefine a war through one’s kin, one’s skin? One begins with what one holds dearest. I begin at home.

Director/Editor/Cinematographer       – Adjani Arumpac

Assistant Camera                                            – Victor Delotavo Tagaro

Offline Editor                                                    -Camille Adrienne Orense

Music Composition                                        -Deodato Arellano

Sound Design                                                    -Jedd Dumaguina


Director’s Biography

Adjani Arumpac is an art writer/filmmaker from Mindanao, Philippines. She is now based in Quezon City, Metro Manila. She graduated with a BA in Film and Audio Visual Communications in the University of the Philippines. Her directorial works include: Walai (2006); a full-length documentary film about Muslim women in Mindanao, Philippines; Nanay Mameng (2012) a documentary film on the life of a beloved octogenarian urban poor leader in the Philippines, Carmen Deunida; and War is A Tender Thing (2013).

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