Iliw is a full-length narrative feature inspired by true stories of Japanese-Filipino-American War in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Philippines from 1941-1945. Since World War II, Japanese people have been misunderstood. They have always been pictured, described, defined, and judged as the ultimate enemy in the horrors of war.
As cinema is a very powerful medium for transformation, the film is written in such a way that it will be a very potent tool for education/re-education and re-orientation of the collective mind of all the Filipinos in the Philippines and all over the world. In this case, the film redefines the social connection of Japan and the Philippines and manifests the social, spiritual, and cultural intricacies and diversities that help shaped the Japanese war period in the Philippines specifically in Ilocos Sur.
Iliw takes advantage of the technology, it uses High Definition camera with an adapter PS Teknik so one can make use of varied film lenses to achieve the 35mm film look, thus making Iliw a 35mm Digital High Def-- a filmless film, indeed.
Iliw is shot entirely in Vigan and other parts of the Province of Ilocos Sur, Northern Philippines. The production design including costume and make-up gives the 1940’s look and ambience in the film. The production design’s objective is to make the picturesque sceneries in Ilocos Sur a living backdrop of every scene in the film highlighting the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the province – the hispanic town of Vigan and the baroque church of Sta. Maria.
Iliw stars local mainstream and theater actors such as Kaye Abad as the lead actress, Ping Medina, Irma Adlawan, Amante Pulido, Gian Sotto, Charee Pineda, Alex Medina and Ron Morales. Japanese theater and film/TV actors Hiro Sakoda and Kazumi Yoshida are also acting in the film with Hiroyuki Takashima as the lead actor.
Iliw, an Ilocano word for “nostalgia,” will definitely make an impact on local and international perspectives towards the Filipino-Japanese culture and relations. No film in the Philippines has ever presented the positive characters of Japanese people before and during the war. Thus, Iliw pays tribute to the enduring humane characters of those Japanese heroes.
Every town has a story, a story to lasts the generations. And Vigan is no exception. However, this story is of love in a time of war, a time fraught with danger, suspicion and prejudice. But who knew then that the fate of Vigan-- its families, its beautiful homes, and its history-- rested on the love of two enemies?
In 1941, World War II swept the globe and reached the shores of our islands, along with the Japanese occupation. A man from Ilocos Sur who was then the Post Master of Baguio City was accused of some crime and jailed by the Japanese. While in jail, he was frequently visited by his family, including his lovely daughter. Soon, her pretty daughter captured the heart of the Kempeitai Officer stationed in Baguio.
In 1943, as destiny would have it, the Kempeitai Officer was assigned to Vigan and again, met the pretty daughter of the Baguio Post Master. And yet, no matter the mutual hatred between their nations, the two became lovers. Many dismissed it as a relationship of convenience-- a young, pretty Filipina seeking protection for her whole family by giving in to the amorous advances of a powerful Japanese military man. A love in the time of war, a love between two enemies was never an easy path to take. But only true love could have pulled them through.
1945. Elsewhere in the world, the Allied Forces were winning the war and the Japanese Army was forced to retreat. Somewhere in Vigan, there lived a German Parish Priest. The Japanese were ordered to retreat from Vigan and leave only destruction behind them. Who knows what happened on that one fateful night in 1945? Who knows what pleas and prayers were made in desperate whispers, in numbing darkness? Who knows what hearts were broken and what promises were made? We certainly never will. But as the morning dawned over the town, it was clear that Vigan had been spared. It had escaped total destruction, a misfortune that befell other places like Cebu and the City of Intramuros in Manila. Vigan was not torched nor bombed; the dead were not left to rot, the living not left to weep.
Declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vigan stands tall and proud; speaking only of triumph and salvation, speaking only of love that conquers all.