Director Kip Oebanda is defining the role of the youth in making history with ‘Liway’

Last Sept. 21, people commemorated the 46th anniversary of Ferdinand Marcos’ declaration of martial law. Some people took to the streets, while others let their stories flow through music and art. What’s surprising to some is that a lot of people who were part of these movements weren’t even born in the 70s. But this is the awareness that will keep our democracy alive, and it is fueled by the storytellers who have lived to tell the tale.

One such person is Kip Oebanda, director of Liway. First released in this year’s Cinemalaya, the film follows the childhood of Dakip, the son of an anti-Marcos dissident, and their lives inside the prison. His mom Commander Liway, (played by Glaiza de Castro) also known as Day, tells stories about an enchantress  also known the compas after her, to help Dakip deal with atrocities present around them. Unlike other films set in this period like Dekada ’70 and ML, Liway draws from the director’s personal experience and offers a fresh perspective through the eyes of a child.

Following the success of the film in this year’s Cinemalaya, Liway will be released in cinemas in Oct. 10. We had the opportunity to talk to Kip about the film, and what its success says about the youth today.

Reel life: Director Kip Oebanda, with co-writer Zig Dulay, wrote the Liway script over seven months.

YOUNG STAR: When did you start planning the movie?

KIP OEBANDA: Last year. I took seven months to write the initial script, but then I wanted to ensure that it wasn’t just a purely personal film, that it would resonate universally. So I got someone else on board, Zig Dulay, to help me write the script.


Were there any other scenes you wanted to include?

Yes. I would’ve wanted to explore more her history as a rebel, what the movement looked like. There are really nice stories there. But we figured that hindi talaga siya kaya. It would take 30 shooting days to shoot that properly and 10 times our budget, maybe. And I figured other films already do a good job of explaining the movement so for now I want it to be more small-scale perspective about the mother and the child.

But I would’ve really wanted to have more anecdotes and stories that happened in the movement.


Liway and ML were the top-grossing films in Cinemalaya this year.

Actually they’re the top-grossing films (in the festival) of all time.


What do you think that says about the youth today?

First, it’s a testament that the films did their job in getting people to think about martial law in one way or another. But at the same time, I think there’s a thirst — particularly in our market. If you look at (the audience), it’s aged 18 to 25. They’re the ones who actually made it popular. And I think there’s that thirst for the truth to know what really happened and I admire that. I really appreciate that.

Freedom fighter: Glaiza de Castro plays the role of  Commander  Liway.

Sometimes young people get unfair treatment, no? They tend to be portrayed rather simplistically as people who are apathetic or who don’t care. But I think the evidence is actually showing that they want to know these things and it’s our job to make these things accessible and appeal to them. And I think that’s what the two films were able to do in Cinemalaya.


Do you feel the responsibility of not just telling your story but also communicating what could happen if we let people in power take away our freedom?

I see it more as a way to encourage people to do more. To tell more stories. I hope that it’s just a catalyst for more and more people to talk about martial law. Having discourse around it. Maybe telling their own stories through film or music or literature. Times like these produce good art and that’s what I hope will happen. Not necessarily our film, but (I hope) that the film will be a catalyst for people to keep on doing the same thing. And I think going out on a limb and risking yourself by exposing yourself and saying “This is my story” is a good first step for people to think about doing the same.