The movie was made in 1939. Only one copy, deteriorated to the say the least, was found and restored by a film restoring organization in Australia. They did it as a gift to the Philippines. Anyway, 1939 was a couple of years before World War II and I was awfully curious about times back then; my grandparents were preadolescents then.
The film is basically about a country girl named Guia (Mila del Sol) who dreams of singing on the radio. She loves her childhood friend, played by Fernando Poe, Sr. and also the music teacher (or whatever he is), Ely Ramos.
My impression is that, culturally, very little has changed. Yes, it was from a dramatically different era, but it was more familiar. Personally I felt a bit more connected to the characters; they remind of relatives & acquaintances. This is contrast with American films of the era, where they have a more foreign feeling to me. This is a bit surprising since I am considerably more American in my ways. Did I make sense?
Since I'm a language nut, you can bet that I analyzed the speech of the characters in this film.
The Tagalog they spoke was totally comprehensible. It sounded a lot like Tagalog does now. However, it had a certain an archaic flavor to it. But it was considerably less than the English I hear in old American films.
I noticed that a lot of the characters used Spanish words that aren't normally heard among the younger generation (I'd include my parents who are late baby boomers).
- The variations of señor (señora, señorito, señorita. I don't think señorito is used much in Spanish either!).
- pues (then)
- bueno (well)
- mamá & papá (mom & dad)
- hijo & hija (son & daughter.. or simply, child)
One expression they kept on using was siyanga ba. I translated it as "really?" These days, it's talaga here. I do say siyanga pala, meaning "by the way."
And the English is kept to a bare minimum which is unlike the prevalence of Taglish today. The only Taglish I heard in the film was when the maid tried to get Mila del Sol's character to change from her bathing suit as she rushed to get married. "Ay! Nakabathing suit! Susmaryosep!" (Oh! She's in a bathing suit! Goodness!). The Filipinos who do speak English in the film do so with a Filipino accent. But the accent isn't very strong unlike those I hear today.
There is a part that surprised me and I guess one could say reflected the attitudes of Manileños at the time. It was between Mila del Sol's character and her music teacher, played by Ely Ramos. She was singing an English song called "I am in love with you." And her singing wasn't up to Ely's taste.
Ely: Ano? Ano ang nangyayari sa iyo? Hindi ganiyan ang pagkanta niyan! Kantahin mo kagaya ng dati. (What? What's happening to you? It isn't sung that way! Sing it like before.)
Mila: Bakit 'nyo kong pinipilit na kantahin ng Inggles? Sinabi ko na sa inyo na hindi ko maari. Bakit hindi 'nyo ko pakantahin ng Tagalog? (Why are you forcing me to sing in English? I already said I couldn't. Why don't you have me sing in Tagalog?)
Ely: Oy, alamin mo na tayo'y nasa Maynila at ang dapat mong kantahin ay Inggles, sapagka't ang makikinig nasusuya sa kantang Tagalog. (Hey, keep in mind that we're in Manila and English is what you should be singing, because the listeners are getting tired of Tagalog songs.)
In any case, it was an interesting movie. I was fascinated by it. If only there were earlier ones.
Link about this film: http://www.pia.ops.gov.ph/philtoday/pt01/pt0109.htm