Something serendipitous happened a few days before the August 9 Cinemalaya tribute for the late art professor and award-winning production designer Cesar Hernando. Some of his former students and collaborators began making their own versions of the official poster to promote the special event.
Hernando—graphic designer, film archivist, photographer, a long-time Fine Arts professor at the University of the Philippines (UPFA) in Diliman—passed away last May 8 at Cardinal Santos Hospital. He was 73. Hernando left behind a legacy of at least 17 films.
Hernando won Urian Best Production Design Awards for his work on the movies Kisapmata, Bayaniand Ba
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Those who created tribute posters include artist Tom Estrera, his collaborator in the design of the book Batch ‘81 The Making is a Mike de Leon Film; filmmaker Raymond Red; Rexielyn Santos of the Cinema as Art Movement which Hernando founded; comic book artist and graphic novelist Arnold Arre; comic book and advertising artist Apol Sta. Maria; and photographer Mark Nicdao. Nicdao, Estrera, Arre, and Sta. Maria are former students of Hernando at the University of the Philippines (Diliman) Fine Arts, while Red is a close friend of Hernando’s with whom the designer collaborated with on a number of films including Bayani where the latter was production designer.
“It just came together organically,” said writer-musician Erwin Romulo, another close friend of Hernando’s. Romulo met the latter while he was still a student at UP Fine Arts. “Raymond Red made one. Then, Tom then Arnold volunteered and Apol.”
The 15th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival is holding a tribute for Hernando on August 9, 2019, at the Tanghalang Manuel Conde (Dream Theater) of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The event features screenings of the short films that Hernando has directed: the experimental Botika, Bitukaand Kalawang; the mystery thrillers Maalinsangan ang Gabiand Motorsiklo; and Kagat ng Dilim, heartthrob Piolo Pascual’s first independent film appearance where he played a Huk investigating the deaths of his fellow rebels.
Sta. Maria, the fellow behind the well-received comic book, Alamat ng Panget and Many Other, was inspired to make a tribute poster. Hernando had so much confidence in him even as a student.
Sta. Maria relates, “Siya lang yata ang nagbasa ng komiks ko sa mga FA teachers. Kasi kapag kinakausap niya ako tungkol doon, may naaalala talaga siyang kuwento. Tapos pinaikot niya sa mga estudyante daw ‘yung Alamat ng Panget. At bumili ng extra para sa library. Hay, nakakamiss si Cesar. Sana nakakuwentuhan ko pa siya n’ung last few years.”
Romulo says that the posters all show Hernando’s impact on those he taught and worked with, but above all, it shows “how well loved he was.”