Poster by Tom Estrera
Culture Spotlight

Raymond Red, Mark Nicdao et al create posters especially for this soldier of cinema

It only goes to show just how revered the late production designer was by the people he taught and worked with
Gay Domingo | Aug 09 2019

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 Batang West Side.


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Raymond Red utilized a photo of Hernando wearing his trademark blue polo shirt, opening a double door, to convey the message that Hernando opened doors for many filmmakers and artists.

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.

Arnold Arre drew a portrait of Hernando in front of a video camera. Hernando was one of the Filipino filmmakers who witnessed the transition from celluloid (film) to digital moviemaking.

“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.”

Like Arre, Apol Sta. Maria also drew a portrait of Hernando. Very noticeable in the drawing is the detail of the click pen placed in the pocket of the shirt. Hernando often placed pens in his shirt pocket so he could immediately draw or take notes.

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.

The poster designed by Rexielyn Santos, which was released by Cinema As Art Movement – the film organization based at UP Fine Arts which was founded by Hernando.

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.

Celebrity photographer Mark Nicdao, a student of Hernando at UP Fine Arts, used posters from Hernando's films, Sister Stella L. and Batch '81, for his own tribute poster, producing a "posters-within-a-poster" effect.

 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.”

Tom Estrera used a photo of Hernando wearing 1950s attire as the main photo. Estrera “distressed” it for a more vintage look. The 1950s was a favorite era of Hernando. The filmmaker left behind a script he co-wrote with Mes de Guzman entitled Mekaniko ni Monica, about a woman in the 1950s who wanted to learn to drive a car — a symbol for the abusive relationship she wanted to escape from. Estrera and Hernando worked on a number of publications together.

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.”