Selective Hearing: Jerrold Tarog

The director of the wildly successful ‘Heneral Luna’ and indie darling ‘Sana Dati’ scores life in twenty songs

by Mio Borromeo

The director of the wildly successful Heneral Luna and indie darling Sana Dati scores life in twenty songs

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Now one of the most popular names in Philippine cinema, Jerrold Tarog (and his work) have garnered honors high and low, most recently with Heneral Luna‘s appointment as the country’s official entry to the 2016 Oscars. Our Cinema Issue this month explored the film’s humble beginnings, its making, its quiet arrival, and finally, the near-universal acclaim and discourse that have been left in its wake. With enough support to put together another film, Tarog is now hard at work on the follow-up to Luna, a biopic that chronicles the fall of Gregorio del Pilar at Tirad Pass.

Perhaps one can owe the success of Tarog’s films to his vast imagination on various levels of production, and consequently, his commitment to executing his vision on those levels. Tarog graduated with a degree in Music Composition, but taking experience and theory from coursework in several film classes, he moved on to tell stories in the cinematic medium. Having appeared in his earliest feature film, Confessional, and taking charge of the writing, the editing, and the score for practically everything he’s done since his first release, Tarog is careful with how his films look, sound, and feel.

For Jerrold to curate a Selective Hearing playlist (now powered by Spotify), we asked him to give us a “soundtrack”, and it was up to him to make of it what he would. He had the freedom to compile his favorite scores of all time, to curate an alternate soundtrack for any of his earlier works, and then some.

But when he did get back to us, Jerrold warned, “I don’t know if it’s a soundtrack of my life.” Bundling the mix as ‘Life in 20 Songs’, he considered it more definitive of some parts of himself at this particular point in time, rather than across the whole of his existence. Immediately, he retracted the idea, quipping: “As if there’s a difference.”

As a result, the tracks of the playlist seem to have no common factor, save for what we might figure are Jerrold’s concerns at the moment. The opening track, Ben Folds’ “There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You”, is a constant reminder to remain humble in a field dominated by ego. Of the Anita O’Day closer, he comments, “[It’s] been a fave since college. I turn to that song when i need to lighten up.”

If one is sensitive enough, one can deduce which songs have figured into his working process. Whereas Jerrold points out that the Death Cab song was on loop when writing the script for Sana Dati, he hints that “Tao” by Sampaguita is going to figure into a future work: “I intend to use that in an unannounced dream project. Pero matagal ko pa magagawa yun.”

Jerrold Tarog’s Sana Dati will be screened once again as part of the Teatrino Film Series at Promenade, Greenhills on November 28, 2015 at 4:30 PM.