Sunday, February 5, 2017
Under the Banyan Tree-Jessie Lichauco
I recommend this video in case you have not seen it. For the synopsis read below.
“Under the Banyan tree” is a documentary exploring the inner world, memories and experiences of a 105-year-old Philippine woman, Nana Jessie. The life of a woman who at 18 left her birthplace in Cuba, to travel across land and ocean all by herself, to meet her future husband, Marcial Lichauco, in Manila. This is the portrait of a life full of adventure and unusual situations, embracing from before World War II to the present day. A house packed with old books, antiques, exotic objects, stuffed wild animals, photo albums, cats, dogs and a huge two hundred year old banyan tree next to the Pasig River, will be the supporting actors at the background of her memories. Through them and a clownish historical guide named Carlos, we will discover the history of a country, the traces of the Spanish and North American colonization, as well as the violent Japanese invasion during World War II.
A historical review of Philippine XXth century through the photographic albums; a series of interviews to the offspring of Philippine prostitutes and soldiers from the North American military base, socially excluded individuals, deprived of any citizenship rights; talks with some of Jessie´s seven children; conversations with survivors from the concentration camps during the War; participation in local folk dances; enjoying beautiful landscapes; mingling with today’s inhabitants along the river. All of these will merge into a surprising, unpredictable film about a family, a country, a history.
This is not a regular documentary, but rather a joyful song about everything surrounding Jessie, her photo albums, her furniture, the stuffed antelopes and lions, the magical corners of a home haunted by memories. Silent pauses, thoughtful gazes towards the river, the people surrounding her, a visual poetry telling us of her life, her feelings, her dead husband, her children, her home, her country. A picture where peace and violence, wealth and poverty, curiosity and love, youth and old age, sadness and joy, all take turns to leave a mark on her soul. An unexpected look into a country and its people, a road with an unforeseen end, bright images connecting and wrapping us with memories, secrets, past emotions, through the eyes and voice of this wise, adorable woman.
Here's a short biography of Marcial Lichauco, husband of Jessie from Wikipedia:
Marcial Primitivo Lichauco born in November 27, 1902 in Manila, was the youngest son of Faustino Lichauco (February 16, 1870, Binondo, Manila - June 15, 1930), a member of Emilio Aguinaldo's Revolutionary Junta, and Luisa Fernández y Arcinas (June 21, 1873, Binondo, Manila - September 10, 1959).
Lichauco studied at the American-established Central School in Manila. After having graduated as the valedictorian of his class, he entered Harvard University. In 1923, he became the first Filipino to graduate from Harvard. He later studied at Harvard Law School and graduated in 1926.
Throughout the period, Lichauco traveled in the United States delivering speeches promoting the idea of Philippine independence. He collaborated with Moorfield Storey to publish "The Conquest of the Philippines by the United States" to draw attention to the Philippine-American war.
In the 1930s, Lichauco was secretary to the OsRox Mission, which traveled to the United States Congress to urge passage of a bill granting independence to the Philippines. This ultimately became the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act.
Lichauco spent WW-II in occupied Manila. After the war, Lichauco published "Dear Mother Putnam" to document day-to-day life in Japanese-occupied Manila.
In 1963, President Diosdado Macapagal appointed Marcial Lichauco as Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Lichauco served in that post until 1966.
Related Information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curiosity,_Adventure,_and_Love
Personal Note: I first heard of the Lichauco's through Veronica( Ronie) Feria Nieva, my wife's( Macrine's) second cousin. Ronie's grandmother was Maria Arevalo y Lichauco who was married to Gregorio Morente Nieva. Gregorio was the younger brother of Macrine's grandfather Juan Morente Nieva.