The late former mayor of Cagayan de Oro Reuben R. Canoy and his lifetime partner in journalism and the arts Lorenzo M. Dela Serna have been honored as the Founding Fathers of Cagayan de Oro films.
The two were accorded the Golden Giant Fish Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cinema during the awarding rites for the 3rd Cine de Oro Film Festival held at the Karumata, Bgy. Macasandig, Cagayan de Oro on December 17, 2022.
“Much of what is lost to the sands of time will never be recovered. Tonight, however, join us in celebrating a forgotten piece of the sprawling puzzle that is Mindanao cinema,” said Joe Bacus, the festival’s artistic director, himself a multi-awarded film maker recognized here and abroad.
“For their indelible contribution to Cagayan de Oro cinema history, Cine de Oro Film Festival gives tribute to Mr. Reuben Canoy and Mr. Lorenzo M. Dela Serna as the founding fathers of Cagayan de Oro cinema. The Lifetime Achievement Golden Giant Fish Award goes to these two giants of Mindanao cinema.”
Sa Imong Lawas ug Dugo, written and directed by Lorenzo M. Dela Serna, is the very first feature film produced by Cagayan de Oro in 1979.
“Cine de Oro is first and foremost a film festival by filmmakers for filmmakers. That said, we believe that proper archiving of Kagay-anon film history should be paramount,” said Rodiell Veloso, festival manager and writer. “Sa Imong Lawas ug Dugo, which is written and directed by Lorenzo M. dela Serna and produced by Reuben Canoy, is the first full-length feature film produced by a Kagay-anon. Although no copy of the film survives to this day, Cine de Oro intends to fully cement these filmmaker’s indelible contribution to the history of Cagayan de Oro cinema with this award.”
Canoy’s daughter Rhona and De La Serna’s son Robert received the awards in behalf of their parents.
“My Pa wrote the screenplay and directed the full length movie, “Sa Imong Lawas ug Dugo” in 1979,” Robert recalls. “Although it was mostly shot in Cebu, it involved some local Kagay-anon actors and was produced by Reuben Canoy. My hazy memory, notwithstanding, I reckon the movie tackled and provided a mature treatment of extramarital affairs, considered a societal taboo, revolving around dilemma of a child born out of wedlock, hence the title.”
The movie was simultaneously premiered in Cebu and at the defunct Rizal theater in Cagayan de Or to an SRO crowd, thanks to the RMN stations’ promotion of the movie, and the strong following of Canoy’s daily commentary ‘Perspective,’ also aired over the same stations.
Reuben Rabe Canoy was a politician, journalist, playwright, lawmaker, and filmmaker.
Born on June 6, 1929 in Cagayan de Oro City, he graduated with an AA degree from University of the Philippines and a law degree from Silliman University in 1953. He was a huge part of Silliman’s post-World War II generation of writers who went on to great critical acclaim in the mid-1950s.
In 1966, he was appointed Undersecretary for the Department of Public Information under the Presidency of Ferdinand E. Marcos under then-minister Francisco “Kit” Tatad. Later, he was elected and served as the fifth mayor of Cagayan de Oro from 1971 to 1976. (Casocot, 2022)
Beyond his career in politics, however, was also a career in the arts. The British Film Institute’s website credits him for the screenplay of National Artist Eddie Romero’s The Passionate Strangers (1966) and The Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1969).
He is also listed in The Movie Database as producer and screenplay writer of Cesar Amigo’s Babae sa Likod ng Salamin (1976) which starred Charito Solis, Dindo Fernando, Alona Alegre and Perla Bautista, and as screenplay writer of Amigo’s Sa Dulo ng Kris (1977) which starred Joseph Estrada and Vic Vargas.
In 2013, he made a brief return to film when he was announced as one of the winners of the Genre Film Scriptwriting Competition organized by the Film Development Council of the Philippines, for his unproduced screenplay The Unbelievers.
During his days in Silliman when he became a prolific writer of poem and short stories, he was among those credited to have helped develop Negros’ literary scene, and was also cited as among the poets who contributed to Philippine Literature in English in the immediate post-war years.
He was editor of the university’s literary folio Sands and Coral from 1951 to 1953. He published his fiction and poetry widely in national papers and magazines as well.
In 1981, Leopoldo Y. Yabes would include his short story “Deep River” in the landmark anthology, ?ℎ???????? ?ℎ??? ??????? 1941-1955, published by the University of the Philippines Press. (Casocot, 2022)
He was also a past president of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club, the oldest press club in Mindanao.
In 1952, Canoy convinced his brother Henry to turn his fledgling radio station in Cagayan de Oro into Radio Mindanao Network. Canoy hosted an early morning radio program, Perspective, which ran for 64 years on RMN. In 1971, he was conferred the Outstanding Sillimanian Award for his contributions to mass media.
Canoy’s familiar opening spiel for each episode has reverberated across generations: “Ang lungsod nga nasayod makahatag og kusog sa demokrasya, apan ang lungsod nga mapasagaron makapukan sa atong kagawasan.”(An informed society strengthens democracy, but an indifferent society will destroy our freedom.)
When his health further deteriorated, Canoy wrote his commentary and had his daughter Rhona read it to his audience.
“He graciously asked me to partner in Perspective with the intent to let me continue the program after his death. But he was active with the program, even recording his last episode the morning of July 5, prior to his passing,” Rhona recalls.
Canoy authored The Quest for Mindanao Independence which details the disconnect between the national direction and the aspirations of the region’s peoples; and The Counterfeit Revolution: How Ferdinand Marcos Became a Dictator of the Philippines, an account of the years from martial law in 1972 up to the assassination of former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. in 1983, which also provides insights into why Marcos Sr. rose to become a dictator, and The History of Mindanao.
He married Solona Torralba in 1953, with whom he had four children, Rhona, Chet, Marc, and Don. He died on 5 July 2022.
Lorenzo Maningo de la Serna was a writer, editor and long-time collaborator of Canoy in journalism and the arts.
He was editor-in-chief of the defunct The Mindanao Post, one of Cagayan de Oro’s longest running weekly newspapers, and twice president of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (1966-1967, 1977-1978).
Lorie started his career as a talent and scriptwriter for Phil-Ads, a Manila-based advertising agency, then producing radio dramas for DYRC-DYBU, the only two broadcast stations in the Visayas, while taking Liberal Arts at Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos.
He was still in the first year AB when he won the position of associate editor and eventually elevated to editor-in-chief of CSJ-R’s school organ, Adelante, which earned him full scholarship and membership to the prestigious Cebu Editors Guild and later, the Association of Cebu Journalists (ACI). (Corrales, 2011)
Already a broadcast journalist in Cebu, De La Serna first came to Cagayan de Oro in 1952 to work as a draftsman under Col. Pablo Calo, G2 of the IV Military Area (now 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army).
In 1954, he joined Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) in Cagayan de Oro as jock, scriptwriter, news and commentary producer, production manager and station manager of DXCC, the second broadcast station in the entire Mindanao.
As the network grew, he was tasked to construct, organize. operate and manage other RMN radio and IBC TV stations in different parts of the Visayas and Mindanao, but served longest as station manager of DYHP in Cebu, and DXDC in Davao in the 1970s, until he was recalled to rejoin DXCC in 1976, boosting Canoy’s Perspective as his content writer and producer, which was aired daily on 23 radio stations in the Visayas and Mindanao. (Corrales, 2011)
“The strong ties between my Pa and Atty. Canoy were hinged upon their tandem as co-producers of the longest running VisMin radio commentary, Perspective, where my Pa wrote the content in Cebuano, while Atty. Canoy lent his voice to this radio program– what today is the equivalent of Vox, a popular US- based socmed platform that explains just about anything–from news to political affairs, to science and culture,” his son Robert noted.
Besides his journalistic pursuits, the elder De La Serna was active in the literary field also a frequent contributor of short stories and Cebuano grammar lessons to the Bisaya Magazine.
“As editor of the 1990s Cebu-based newspaper, Ang Sugbuanon, he became a founding member of the Visayan Academy of Arts and Letters Foundation, Inc. which was established in 1995 (now the Akademiyang Bisaya since 2009) a non-stock, non-profit and non-sectoral corporation of language preservation advocates, promoting and regulating the Visayan-Cebuano language,” Robert shared.
Acknowledged as an authority in Visayan lingua franca, he was commissioned as consultant-editor and was awarded a Plaque of Appreciation “for his outstanding contribution to the Catholic Bible Society for Asia in the translation of the Bible into Cebuano language.”
In 1998, as Most Outstanding District Deputy he was awarded the rare privilegé to attend as delegate representing Mindanao to the international convention of the Knights of Columbus in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.
De la Serna played a key supporting role in the movie, Cesar Amigo’s Sa Dulo ng Kris (1977) where he co-wrote the screenplay as an uncredited writer with Amigo and Canoy. The film produced by Reuben Canoy Productions, tells the story of a sibling rivalry between rebel figure Joseph Estrada and military officer Vic Vargas over their love interest for a Muslim damsel, Inez Bond Manapul (in her first film role).
He wrote the screenplay and directed the last Visayan cinema ever filmed in Cebu, Sa Imong Lawas ug Dugo, which also produced by Reuben Canoy in 1979. (Corrales, 2011)