Ilocos Norte’s Himala sa Buhangin! Festival to pay tribute to cult classic Filipino film ‘Temptation Island’

Since the first Himala sa Buhangin! Arts and Music Festival in 2012, the 81-kilometer stretch of pure and golden sand dunes of Paoay, Ilocos Norte turned not only as a famous tourism destination but a haven where statues of legendary Filipino artists continue to rise.

Set for its fourth comeback on May 14, 2016, the festival will once again pay tribute to a rare Philippine cinematic masterpiece following the successful unveiling of the sculptures of Flavio and Elsa, the iconic roles played by Fernando Poe Jr. from the series ‘Ang Panday’ and Nora Aunor in the 1982 film ‘Himala’ respectively.

“This year, we are installing the Temptation Island commemorative sculpture. This is inspired by the original version (directed by Joey Gosiengfiao) and the (2011) version of the film by Chris Martinez,” said Ilocos Norte Tourism Office (INTO) Head Ianree Raquel.

Raquel further added that “we are now working with two notable theater designers, namely, Mitoy Sta. Ana for the sculptures and Ohm David for the set design.”

Both Sta. Ana and David are mainstay artists who are in the forefront of the development and refurbishments of the various infrastructure in Ilocos Norte led by Governor Imee R. Marcos.

In an interview, Sta. Ana revealed that he had mixed emotions on being commissioned to create an artistic interpretation of the classic Filipino film.

“(I am) equally honored and pressured. It is a big task resting on my shoulders immortalizing these royalties. It is not often one gets the chance to do so, let alone the whole cast of a film classic,” added Sta. Ana.

Admitting of being a fan of the film, Sta. Ana beamed that “anyone who has seen it has instantly become a fan as it considered by some critics as a cult classic which was even adapted to theater.”

With the 1980 original version and 2011 remake both filmed at the massive expanse of the Paoay Sand Dunes, Temptation Island is one of the most-critically acclaimed films in the country for merging social commentary with a distinct brand of wit and humor and escapist entertainment despite its limited filming budget.

It follows the story of four girls from different social backgrounds who are battling against one another in a beauty pageant but end up instead on a lifeless desert after their ship bursts into flame as they compete in one of the portions of the pageant.

The film’s original casts were played by country’s former beauty queens Dina Bonnevie, Azenith Briones, Jennifer Cortez, and Bambi Arambulo while the 2011 remake included Marian Rivera, Rufa Mae Quinto, Heart Evangelista, Lovi Poe and Solenn Heusaff.

Being more of a ‘conceptual designer,’ Sta. Ana described that the sculpture will be done on a mixed medium, saying that “the interpretation has fiberglass as its base, the rock formation which serves as the platform, mylar boards in mosaic patterns and the figures, sculpted in Paoay sand.”

The sculptures depict one of the highlights of the film wherein the main casts are shown licking an enormous ice cream cone to cool off from the scorching heat of the sun as they are stranded from the arid desert, noted Ilocos Norte Media Incentives Desk Officer Elaine Lubguban.

Recognized as the Center of Film Tourism in the Country, the Paoay Sand Dunes has become a popular backdrop for artists most especially for local and international filmmakers since the 1970s.

Asked about Ilocos Norte’s potential to become a haven for artists, Sta. Ana answered: “I think Ilocos Norte already is. There are endless potential talents bred in the region waiting to be developed, to escape from their shell. The ones who visit merely have to serve just as inspirations, and eventually, should find inspiration from the people of Ilocos Norte.

Seeing the vast tourism potential of the Paoay Sand Dunes, Governor Imee R. Marcos initiated various development efforts to the arid landscape turning it as a recreation, sports and art center in the Philippines.

The Himala sa Buhangin! Arts and Music Festival harnesses this potential and is one of the highlights of the La Milagrosa Provincial Fiesta to honor the patroness of the province, La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc.—(John Michael Mugas, PGIN-CMO)