09 January 2006



University of the Philippines
College of Mass Communication auditorium
Plaridel Hall, UP Campus, Quezon City
Wednesday, 11 January 2006 10am - 12nn


“Lesbiyana Lesbiyana Paano ka Isinapelikula?”
A look at women-loving-women portrayals in mainstream Philippine cinema
by Libay Linsangan Cantor

How are women-loving-women being portrayed in Philippine cinema today?

Since the film Tatlo Magkasalo was commercially shown in 1998, the topic of lesbianism as a central storyline was rarely – if barely – touched upon again by Filipino filmmakers within the mainstream field. There have been a few lesbian or bisexual female characters and lesbian-oriented storylines in a few films, but most – if not all – of these portrayals are not of a major stature. What kind of portrayals are these? How do they show the lives, loves and preoccupations of today’s Filipino lesbian? Do they present a range of characterizations or perpetrate stereotypes that lead to derogatory personifications? But before asking where these characters are today, perhaps we need to ask how lesbians were portrayed in Philippine cinema in the past.

This paper will try to examine the image/s of the lesbian in mainstream cinema through an informal survey of commercially-exhibited films within the last three decades. By selecting certain popular examples, the paper will try to comprehend the celluloid life of the woman-loving-woman – how they were given spaces within the story, how their stories were carried out, and how their personas were treated in whole. This analysis of a Philippine cinematic “lesbian herstory” hopes to produce meaningful insights and hopefully also lead us to a more enlightened and empowered filmic representation of the lesbian experience.

Ms. Libay (Olivia) Linsangan Cantor is an instructor at the UP Film Institute where she finished her BA Film and Audiovisual Communication degree in 1995. She also serves as UPFI’s Faculty Coordinator for Academic Programs and Research. Currently, she is finishing her MA English Studies: Creative Writing at the UP College of Arts and Letters.

Ms. Cantor has garnered honors in different fields such as writing (two Carlos Palanca Awards for Literature in 1997; honorable mention at the Film Development Foundation of the Philippines Inc. 1998 scriptwriting competition); photography (“one of the five highly commendable photographers” at the 2005 World Association for Christian Communication International Photographic Competition, UK) and video (“Jeep Tip” short documentary honored as an “Official Selection” at the 2005 Chicago Filipino-American Film Festival, USA).

She was the co-founder of U.P. Sappho Society, the first university-based lesbian organization in the Philippines. She is currently an applicant of the professional literary organization Artista Para sa Kultura at Dalumat ng Bayan Ink. (Akdang_Bayan).

Her short stories, poems, essays, film/media and cultural/gender analyses/criticism articles have been published in different book anthologies, print and online publications in the Philippines, Australia, Canada and the USA.

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