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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

entry arrow7:37 PM | Archiving and Preservation

This ["The Race to Save the Films We Love"] is a fantastic, if sobering, article by Manohla Dargis for The New York Times on film archiving and preservation. The article tackles for the most part the race to save old silent American films, a significant percentage of which are now gone or lost -- often destroyed by their own creators who never found value in storing them. That rejoinder is also something the article touches on, and provokes a look at our very own present circumstances. What are the things you are throwing away now that might in fact have historical value in the future?

The article reads: "The studios can afford to safeguard their new and old titles, but an estimated 75 percent of movies in American theaters are made by independents. A few years ago, the Library of Congress and the academy released 'Digital Dilemma 2,' a report on the digital preservation issues facing independent filmmakers and nonprofit audiovisual archives. 'Most of the filmmakers surveyed for this report have given little thought to what happens to their work once it is completed,' the study found. Most were also not aware of 'the perishable nature of digital content.'”

My own awakening regarding the value of archiving happened in 2013 during a consolidated research to chronicle the history of the culture and the arts in Silliman University. We found the subject sorely unchronicled, with many of the relevant documents and materials lost, thrown away, or destroyed. It became for the most part a chronicling of oral history, because that was what was left -- although we were also aware that many of the principals have died. (We interviewed Eddie Romero only a few months before he passed away.) The one bright spot in our search was the archival collection of Rudy Juan who made an effort to collect every single program of university shows since 1975. In a sense, a well-organised "pack rat" saved us and gave us invaluable material for our research. In my current research on Negros Oriental literature, I am dismayed to find out for example that the entire collection of The Sillimanian from the 1930s -- a decade that saw the editorships of Edilberto K. Tiempo and Ricardo Demetillo -- is missing, perhaps destroyed by World War II. I shudder at the idea of what we've lost.

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