Turumba / Olympic Gold
West-Germany/Philippines 1981, 95 min, color
Commissioned by the German public service broadcaster ZDF, Kidlat Tahimik shot this movie in Laguna in the Philippines in 1981 as a contribution to the ZDF teleplay series “Vater Unser” (“Our Father”). These comprised six 45-minute short movies by a group of international directors, which interpreted key phrases from the lexicon of the Apostles’ Creed. These teleplays were broadcast on Wednesdays and Saturdays in October and November 1981 at 19.30 during a time slot scheduled for religious affairs programs. The series was produced by the still existent Munich-based motion picture company Tellux, the majority of whose shareholders are the Catholic dioceses. Probably because of these circumstances, this is the only film by Kidlat Tahimik that is based on a relatively straight-forward script and where the director has no part.
Tahimik opted for the phrase “give us this day our daily bread”, and shot a movie about a family in Pakil in Laguna, a small town about 100 kilometers from the capital Manila reputed for its “Turumba” procession and its musical tradition, which also play an important role in the film. The family earned their living producing paper mache figurines, a handicraft for which the region is known nationwide. They sell the figurine-toys during the annual Turumba festivities and live off the proceeds throughout the year.
“Nevertheless they are well-off”, ran the commentary in a ZDF press report, “with their cheerfulness, they have time to dance and play music; they are secure in their traditions – until one fine day a figure like the goose that lays golden eggs walks into their lives.” An imperious, German entrepreneur visits their market stall and commissions them to manufacture 30,000 Olympic Waldi dachshunds, the official mascot for the 1972 Munich Olympics. The family then embarks upon a quasi-industrial production of paper mache figures; suddenly, time is money. Tahimik commented that Turumba is a movie about the “incursion of capitalism into a Philippine village”.
From the original material shot for the 45-minute teleplay and broadcast with German synchronization under the title Olympic Gold, Tahimik edited an additional feature length version that nowadays is shown internationally under the title Turumba. The German subtitled 16mm copy of Turumba to be shown at the retrospective has been preserved in the archives of the EZEF, the Protestant Centre for Films focusing on Questions of Development. Olympic Gold, the original German television version, will here be presented to the public again for the first time since its première on 17 October 1981.
There is an autobiographical aspect to the connecting link between the Philippine village and the Munich Olympic Games, created by producing the souvenir merchandise. Tahimik actually came to Munich in 1972 to raise the starting capital for his artist-pursuits by working as a souvenir merchant at the Olympics. The 1972 Olympics is considered the first Games in which marketing the official mascot in the form of merchandising products become an integral part of the “Olympics” business model. Tahimik had acquired an official license for the exploitation of Olympic Waldis and, according to himself, traveled to Munich with around 25,000 Waldi wind-toys (mobiles) manufactured in the Philippines.
Director: Kidlat Tahimik
Screenplay: Kidlat Tahimik
Camera: Boy Yniguez
Editing and German dialogues: K. H. Fugunt
Sound: Ed de Guia, Neidhart Franke, Rolly Ruta
Credits: Wil Magtibay
Crew: Raynon Afuang, Romy Bagbagen, Louie Joven, Rommel Simpliciano
Production Assistant: Patricia O de Guia, Nena de Guia
Music: Mandy Afuang
Cast: Homer Abiad, Iñigo Vito, Maria Pehipol, Patricio Abari, Bernarda Pacheco, Katrin de Guia, Claudia ADERES, Mino Aco, Riri Afuang, Silberio Galvez, Alma Almasan, Nita Alejo, Johnny Ching, Radi Dalit, Joseph Other, Cupido Arevalo, Manuel de Guia, Juanito Cahicas, Seferino Balino, Cristino Balino, Alejandro Macabaso, Vicente de Ramas
Production Companies: Tellux Film, Kidlat Kulog Productions
Distribution: Flower Films
16mm prints of Turumba with English subtitles are available from Les Blank Films Inc.