Pisay, the Movie

Just learned that Auraeus Solito, director of Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros and Tuli, has created a movie about Philippine Science High School aptly called Pisay. (That’s the official nickname of PSHS, and nothing else.)

Even better is that the film is a finalist in the 2007 Cinemalaya Film Festival. According to a Pisay blogger, the full-length movie finalist won the best script and hence received funding from Cinemalaya. A measly sum of five hundred thousand pesos, to be exact. Not enough? You bet.

Here’s the plot from the filmfest website:

Amidst the chaos of Martial Law in this Third World country in the 1980s, six teenagers in the top high school for the sciences discover themselves as they go through the joys and pains of adolescence. They were the top two hundred students from all over the Philippines who passed the examination for the Philippine Science High School, which was created for the purpose of giving an education highly enriched in the Sciences to exceptionally gifted Filipino children. Selected from the best and brightest from all over the country, they endure college-level courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics from their sophomore year onwards. Those who can make it are hailed as the future science and technology leaders of the New Republic, those who don’t are deemed unfortunate victims of natural selection. They all learn however that they are neither isolated from the real world, nor are they exempted from living real lives. They find the world outside, erupting into the People Power revolution in 1986 against the Marcos dictatorship, being replicated within the school as they struggle to graduate, contend with teachers, classmates, family, school officials, and a new classification to segregate students meeting the high standards of excellence from those who do not.

Exceptionally gifted? That’s debatable: talent is what you do with what you have. There’s no better place to learn that than at Pisay.

Also found this snippet from an interview online:

LP: What is next for Aureaus Solito? You know you will have to travel a lot again this year for the Worldwide festival run of Tuli, how are you preparing yourself for this….?

AS: The Good news is my 3rd film is a finalist and got funding for the 3rd Cinemalaya Independent film festival (which funded “Maximo”). PISAY will be my 3rd film, about my high school alma-mater Philippine Science High School during the 80s. We were actually the first batch that graduated in a free government, in 1986 during the People power revolution which ousted the dictatorship. For a change Filipino students will be portrayed as brilliant and sensitive, and not the usual Pinoy “high school” genre where students are portrayed as stupid and apathetic.

For the record, PSHS students are expected to pursue a career in science/technology in one’s Motherland but obviously, Solito chose a different path. But those are issues for another day.

I’m sure many will be annoyed by a film that glorifies arrogant high school nerds who pay no tuition, get monthly stipends, and use hardbound, imported college textbooks and other facilities funded by taxpayers, only to fail miserably in college and later in life. But you know what? Not everyone is like that, and it really depends on the person and not the school you came from. It’s about time somebody looked inside the minds of Pisay scholars. I just hope the film will do all Pisay students justice.

Here’s proof that tabloids are NOT credible at all:

Si Auraeus Solito (ng Maximo Oliveros) ay nagkaroon na ng pre-production work sa kanyang pelikulang Pisay. Sinasabi ng taga-CCP na “Pinay na taga-Pasay” ang ibig sabihin ng titulo.

Uh, what?

57 replies

  1. “Endure”? It’s not like that. I think we were spoiled, really. Personally I didn’t exert that much effort in my classes. I wish I had.

    And sometimes I wish Pisay had pushed me — us — harder, but then again I doubt most of us would have had the maturity to be strengthened instead of broken by that kind of push. Potential versus youth — it’s a difficult balance.

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  3. woot! iba talaga ang pisay :P

    well, for my part, i *had* to endure those subjects. i had to endure pisay, all four years of it. the word applies to me and some others from my circle of friends (the ones who frequently cut classes or otherwise were too ‘distracted’ by non-acad stuff to even think of studying) ;) every day was a test of survival for me.

    like mia, though, i have the same regrets — i wish i had exerted more effort in my HS acads. too much time was spent on ‘love’ and computer games, haha!

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  4. Pinay na taga-Pasay? Wow anlabo! Hahaha.

    I think Pisay molds individuals in a different and very special way, though I find it hard to describe. Certainly though, this movie can help break whatever stereotypes people have regarding people from pisay.

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  5. Hi,

    Am I a character in ur film? LOLOLOLOL
    Well…pisay was fun…thats what matters…

    + it helps to know that u have a “special” mission in life.

    The benchmark for success (whatever that is) is quite high…

    Well Aris, u made it!!!!!!!!!!!

    See youse all in our HS reunion….

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  6. “Not everyone is like that, and it really depends on the person and not the school you came from.”

    I really wish this would be realized by all, especially pisay people so that bumming around won’t be an option anymore.

    ” It’s about time somebody looked inside the minds of Pisay scholars. I just hope the film will do all Pisay students justice.”

    I hope so too… Most of the time (if not all the time, that is), people judge these students based only from the fact that they came from pisay. Truth is, there’s more life and there is definitely a deeper story inside the portals of what is so-called the Philippine Science High School.

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  7. Okay, now I’m annoyed. Whoever the hell says we are arrogant high school nerds should be shot in the head. O_o If there are people who fit that description perfectly, it’s the MakSci students who represented the school at the 2003 Digital LG Quiz. X____________________________x

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  8. Well, Ginnie, I think people become arrogant on their own, regardless of school. I have a batchmate who joined that quiz show and behaved like an arrogant high school nerd. It’s the sweeping generalization that I can’t stand.

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  9. Yeah, well… Pisay was a state of mind back then. It’s actually very interesting how Pisay was able to set us up but then agian I would have to agree that it really just depends on the person and not the school.

    All in all though, it was a test survival in another form…. The question is, was our training in Pisay enough to equip us for real life?

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  10. My life in Pisay? study, eat 3 hours sleep, study..study.. now who says i dont deserved to recieved that fucking privil;edges? i graduated in col soma Cumlaude.. i may not be able pursue to become a science nerds but i own a company at age 22. Got 23 men working for me ,recieving thier good salary to feed thier families. .. ive earned that from Pisay… who says i dont deserved that privl way ba ck then?

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  11. Pingback: Pisay, the Movie | The Armorer’s CodeX

  12. we were a lot younger then.. our brains were a lot impulsive.. a lot caring about our existence.. we thrived in each others presence then.. college passed.. and still we feel the same.. longing for that pisay smile, pisay laughter and pisay pressures.. now that we are older, yeah, pisay scholars should be more appreciative of their status as early as possible.. were we spoiled? i don’t know.. we just had more than enough of everything that we never figured out how to appreciate them, but that was before.. now we can reap what was intended for us.. being a pisay scholar was always meant to be good for us.. pilipin sayans hi:)

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  13. hi there! i’m a student from pisay and i know a lot about the director of the movie pisay.
    our adviser, mrs. aguila, formerly ms. del rosario when Auraeus Solito was still in pisay, said that he was the best students she ever had. well, i think taht is true because as you see he already won a lot of awards outside and even inside our country for his works.
    —————pisay batch 2010 sampaguita

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  14. i think you’re being hard on them. I have a friend who studies there, and she is NOT an arrogant nerd. whoever said they are spoiled?! they work hard for it. Sleepless nights, prioritizing studies over their health as to not take the post quarters, college lessons. They have a lot of things to accomplish. And I have to say, i thought the movie was great… every single moment of it.

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  15. Romina, the Cinemalaya film festival ends on the 28th but there’ll be a showing of the films at UP Diliman Cine Adarna on July 31. Pisay will also be showing at SM North EDSA The Block on August 24-25. Neat, huh?

    Dvorak, I’m from Pisay (Gab, Batch 2002 ako), so that phrase was sarcastic, and actually a quote from an article about what other people think of Pisay. It seems you’re the second person who didn’t get that. Click on the link to find out more.

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  16. well i havent watched yet the movie… im hoping to watch it sooner..
    its not yet available in our cinema here in iloilo..
    and im expecting that it wont hurt or even disappoint me being a pisay
    scholar for that matter..

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  17. Pisay students are arrogant?
    I wouldn’t say that, but rather, they kind of deserved to be proud.
    Just so they didn’t step on other people that is.

    The the movie was great, it depicted what probably was, and most likely still is, the Pisay culture. The dorm life, I can totally relate to.

    And though a few people from Pisay really could not, or rather STILL HAVE NOT reached their full potential, the successes of the majority of those who finished more than makes up for. Just like what the current Pisay-Diliman Registrar said at the July 28 3:30PM showing to Mr. Solito, who broke is contract, he has already paid more than what he owes to the school, even with interest.

    — PisayWV-Tau2K

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  18. I had my fondest memories in Pisay. I think within that four years almost all of us were programmed as future scientists or child prodigies. And even after high school, people still stereotype us as “nerds” or people who just prefer to study at all times. Only us, the alumnis, knew the real thing. By the way, what are the chances of Pisay the movie to be released on DVDs ?

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  19. …he has already paid more than what he owes to the school, even with interest.

    — PisayWV-Tau2K

    That’s a bit surprising to hear, considering how strict DOST-SEI is about its scholarship contracts. Haha. ’02 ako; Ruby-Sampa-Rb-Graviton (G++!). Yey.

    Tin, I definitely would buy a copy of that DVD!

    Olrayt, I haven’t watched it (yeah, ironic, huh) but I heard it got the Best Director and Viewer’s Choice (go figure!) awards.

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  20. San ba makakuha ng DVD nito? nasa labas ako ng bansa. pwede ba iorder sa amazon yan? nakalista na sa IMDB.org ang PISAY. Paki update naman ang entry nila dun :)

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  21. Greetings. I attended the film’s premiere tonight at the Toronto International Film Festival. In attendance were about 300-400 people, nearly filling a very modern theatre in the centre of the city. Mr. Solito was there, as well as his classmate Henry Gregada who wrote the script and one of the young actors in the film. Maybe half the audience seemed to be of Filipino descent, if you’re curious.

    The film was *extremely* well received, with much applause and cheering. I have no special knowledge of the film’s context, either Pisay or the politics of the time, but it was clear this is a brave film. Brave in that it challenges both the social rules of the day and, of course, the military regime.

    It is an intensely pesonal film, apparently drawn from real life experiences of Mr. Solito and his classmates. Although I saw the film only out of sheer curiousity, I was moved by the four separate story lines – one for each year of study – and by the courage and honesty that dripped from every scene.

    I now know more about recent Philippine history, and Philippine culture, than before. The images that made it to Canada’s popular press of the day were more of shoe collections and looting than day-to-day life and the substantive issues facing the country.

    The Filipino-Canadians cheered loudly tonight, and I would encourage readers to see this very special film.

    Just thought you might like some observations from a very impressed filmgoer. Bravo Mr. Solito and all who contributed.

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  22. Hi Ia, everyone. :)


    Well, a lot of Pisayers ARE arrogant, and I have to admit, I’m one of those. :D

    On underachieving: It’s not Pisay per se that was the prob. It was more like a majority of smart people DO underachieve. It’s the educational system that sucks, basically because we are now living in a cookie-cutter-school world. Kids with special needs don’t get their needs addressed. Different learning styles are the culprit for those of us who cannot stand Math or live through a day in Pisay without dropping off to sleep.

    And no, our system wasn’t that great, but it’s the best in our country, and I believe I am fortunate for having been a Pisay stude.

    Survival: yes. For those who have ADHD, bipolar disorder/borderline personality disorder and all other mental/emotional conditions , beset by teen hormonal rages and steamrollered by academic pressure such as ours, it WAS a struggle to survive. But I am sooo glad I was in Pisay. Because had I been in a Catholic school or a public school, I may not have recovered from emotional turmoil by now. Might have even joined a gang or have gone exponentially beyond the limit, had I been in another school.

    Bottom line: Pisay offered a safe shelter for kids like me. The disciplinary measures and the attention our teachers gave, plus the community of like-minded individuals who eventually bonded because of a common teen heritage is more than worth the crap we seem to have to put up with as part of the Pisay stereotype and everything we went through in the school.

    All in all, if I lived my life again, I would still go to Pisay. But I think, if my kid passes Pisay, I’m pulling strings to keep him/her a Special scholar. :p

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  23. Salamat sa mga comment.

    Ipalalabas na ang Pisay sa mga sinehan simula sa Feb 20.
    Nuod sana kayong lahat na nasa Manila sa unang araw (o unang tatlo:),
    para manatili sa sinehan ang pelikula.

    Mabuhay ang “Pisay” sa luob nating lahat!

    {Thank you also to the person who commented from Toronto.
    It was a memorable screening, indeed. }

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  24. i watched the film and i really liked it. i know pisay people and they are varied, some i hold in high regard and some are just plain arrogant, much like the type of people you’d find in regular schools.

    in terms of aptitude, there’s no question about it, i believe they’re really some of the best of the country.

    but hey, is this one really from pisay? the grammatical errors and wrong spelling gave me a headache.

    My life in Pisay? study, eat 3 hours sleep, study..study.. now who says i dont deserved to recieved that fucking privil;edges? i graduated in col soma Cumlaude.. i may not be able pursue to become a science nerds but i own a company at age 22. Got 23 men working for me ,recieving thier good salary to feed thier families. .. ive earned that from Pisay… who says i dont deserved that privl way ba ck then?”

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  25. Hiya batchmate. Delayed reaction, but oh well.

    I still haven’t watched the movie but I’m wishing I could. Is there a DVD released of it yet? It would be nice to be able to watch a quality Filipino film that wasn’t made like 50 years ago. It seems that most current Filipino movies are nothing but formulaic stories featuring current popular love teams.

    Regarding the guy who entered the LG competition (well we know who he is but I’m not naming names)… He didn’t start behaving like an arrogant high school nerd because of the competition. Matagal na siyang ganon and I think he’s even proud of it. :p

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  26. Like many of them, I regret that I had not exerted much effort in my studies during my four-year stay at Pisay. To all Pisayers (lower years), do your best. Remember: HS grades are a part of the UPG. (albeit I had not shown all the best, I still passed UPCAT…UP Diliman)

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  27. Arrogance? In Pisay? Maybe some people might pick up some pride, but I am closing out my last year in Pisay (Charm) and I would beg to disagree with anyone who believes that everyone who has been through the system becomes arrogant.

    My own experience here has been one filled with trial and tension. I have fallen under each of the three academic standings and seen every single grade from a 1.00 to a 5.00 throughout my four years under the system. There have been times I had to go to school with only one hour of sleep to keep me standing, or when I was packing a 39-degree fever. And to the very end of this last school year I have been walking on the edge of a knife hoping to God that I wouldn’t fall down in the abyss below. One who does not personally know a Philippine Science scholar might be forgiven for thinking that we are an arrogant lot, but for a large number of us this is far from the truth. To walk our path is to learn a lesson in humility.

    But even though at times I wonder whether my grades would be so incredibly atrocious if I had never taken up this path, I have no regrets whatsoever. Pisay has taught me about failure. Pisay has taught me to rise from defeat. Pisay has taught me that there is always hope. And I am glad that Direk Auraeus was able to capture the magic of Pisay in film, and that I was able experience his movie even as I continued to experience the real thing.

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  28. My son’s a graduate of pisay diliman, though we’re from the visayas. I’m very proud of him and his achievements, not only academic.
    He left the comfort of our home at a tender age of 12. Despite of my inhibitions and fears, I let (even forced) him to go to Manila because I cant forego the opportunities and trainings there. I know that he realized that i wanted the BEST for him.
    I firmly believe that he’s very happy in pisay and his “brotherhood” will live on forever.
    I’m very glad and want to tell his mentors back in pisay (from teachers, dorm manager and staff, guidance counsellor, etc) THANK YOU for a job well done. You mold him into what he is now: independent, responsible for his action (whatever it is), matured??? Ha..ha..
    Anyway, thanks pisay.. And thanks to A. Solito for making “pisay” immortal…
    By the way, where can I get a copy of the DVD? Can you email me?

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  29. As you move on from pisay forgetting all those formulas , figures , training … just take heart one thing PISAY stands for “excellence”…In everythng always with excellence…

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  30. Well, beyond doubt, Pisayanos, Pisayers, Pisaynons, mag-aaral ng Pisay, or whatever you might call us, aren’t really arrogant. Yes, maybe some show off, but that should not be a basis to dub us arrogant by and large. Those show-offs are only a limited few.

    But still the Pisay system should instill in its students or rather scholars the value of humility during their four years in high school, just enough time before they graduate. What other people see is our being arrogant. It is the nature of man to see the dirt clearer in every one than to see the positive side. In light of this we must take action on this.

    It is now time to revolutionize the recurrency of obstinate show-offs in Pisay. Maybe it’s now high time to shift ways from what we are used to before.

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  31. Hi,

    I am from batch 86 and u know what when u reach ur 40’s where u graduated from does not matter anymore. I have to admit PSHS opened doors for me. But don’t limit urselves to a career based solely in science…because the $$$ or PPP is in business…

    But cliche…Happiness is what matters most…above all…so enjoy ur high school years you lucky young things…

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  32. i wish some people would stop generalizing pisay students either for being arrogant or nerds. however, instead of bitterness, i find it quite comical…. if they only knew. tsk. the worst and best thing i learned from pisay is ‘cramming’. no doubt about it.

    i graduated from pisay 2 years ago.

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  33. Me expat. Need DVD!

    Wala. Sayang. Di ko pa napapanood. Nung umuwi ako, walang screening.
    Anyway, i wanna see it before i die. Its not too much to ask for, isn’t it?

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  34. Hi! I’m from Pisay too… Currently studying in Pisay Central Visayas as a senior… I just saw Pisay the movie last week when a classmate of mine ordered a DVD from Pisay Diliman… It was absolutely wonderful!! There’s no doubt about that… Kudos to Mr. A. Solito for a wonderful obra maestra!

    and to r…, i can truly relate to you… If there’s one word I learned in Pisay, that would be “cramming” considering the numerous tasks we have to accomplish at a very limited time…

    Nevertheless, all those cramming sessions made me a lot stronger… GO PISAY!

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  35. I think people should stop labeling Pisayers as ‘arrogant brats’ or something like that. Seriously, as a Pisayer, I totally feel that my every move is being watched by everyone. Sometimes i feel that Pisayers are given less ‘freedom’ than other students from other high schools.

    For example, we would avoid going in public places in our uniforms for we always get dirty looks. Or we cannot even go into a public place wearing a Pisay shirt or anything that tells we are from Pisay. Other schools could do that without anyone turning in their direction. And in public, we have to be extra careful of what we do.

    I just want people to understand us.

    I also want to clear to everyone that we are not nerds who devote our whole life studying and studying and studying and studying. We do have many physical activities. We get to try different sports, compete with other teams in the intramurals, have the ‘students vs. teachers event’, and all those fun stuff.

    As for the movie i cannot totally relate to it because it was not in my time though i can relate to some points. Maybe the things that i expected to be shown were not really emphasized.

    Anyway i still think that the movie is cool and shows many things about being a pisayer.

    And i hope people would stop criticizing Pisayers already. People only see the bad side of us.

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