There was a time in the Philippines when if a young man fancied a young woman and wanted to express his feelings for that woman, instead of texting or friending her on Facebook, he would put on his best barong, enlist his friends for support and perhaps one of those friends played guitar, and then, from outside her window, that young man would work enough courage to serenade that unsuspecting young woman with a song proclaiming his love for her. This tradition is called Harana and it’s now mostly become a long lost practice remembered fondly by elders or parodied by the younger generation. What’s more tragic is that the music of the Harana has also become underappreciated and sometimes these gentle, passionate and rapturously romantic songs will go on unheard for later generations.

Florante Aguilar, 12 years removed from his native Philippines, is a classically trained guitarist equally adept performing pieces by Bach as he is performing rondalla music. It is Aguilar’s quest to not only preserve the lost art of Harana, but to also seek out some of its last remaining practitioners. In Benito Bautista’s HARANA, we follow Aguilar as he scours the provinces of Philippines and eventually finds three remarkable haranistas. These golden voiced men, plucked from the obscurity of their lives as a fisherman, a farmer and a tricycle driver, eventually join Aguilar to form The Harana Kings. They perform to sold out shows in the Philippines and eventually overseas, wowing audiences young and old and reviving a musical art form on the verge of extinction.

HARANA is a serenade in itself. It is a film that proclaims its love and longing for a form of music and an archaic tradition, and beams a light on to it like a Philippine summer moonlight for all the world to see and hear. Bautista’s exquisite film creates stars of its elder haranistas, recalling Buena Vista Social Club and its unearthing of Cuban talent previously unheard outside its country. Their stories and their voices is at the heart of the film and Aguilar’s respect, dedication and reverence for the music is what guides it. Bautista’s film captures Aguilar’s pursuit with equal adoration for the music and fills it with memorable performances giving the songs and the performers the opportunity to completely enchant and delight the audience.

Written by Joel Quizon of LA Asian Pacific Film Fest

Harana FilmStill2-Harana Kings Harana FilmStill3 Haranistas in Vigan TIFF  Harana Women by the Window

Director/Writer: Benito Bautista
Director of Photography: Peggy Peralta
Editor: Chuck Gutierrez
Sound: Raffy Magsaysay and Jason Galindez

Produced by New Art Media in association with Wanderlustproject Films


HARANA (2012)

Awards & Festivals

Gawad Urian Award for Best Documentary Film, Manila, Philippines, 2013
Audience Award, Hawaii International Film Festival, 2013
Audience Award, CAAMFEST (Center for Asian American Media Festival), San Francisco, CA, 2013
Audience Award, Pacific Arts Movement’s Spring Showcase, San Diego, CA, 2013
Audience Award, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ New Filipino Cinema, San Francisco, CA, 2013
Best Cinematography, LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, 2013
Best Documentary 2nd Runner Up, Seattle International Film Festival, 2013
A.N.D. Award, Busan International Film Festival, 2012
In Competition, Busan International Film Festival, 2012
In Competition, Dubai International Film Festival, 2012

Official Selection:
Seattle International Film Festival, 2013
Santa Barbara International Film Festival, 2013
Asian American International Film Festival, New York, 2013
Chicago International Movies and Music Film Festival, 2013
Melbourne International Film Festival, 2013
Your Kontinent Film Festival, Canada, 2013
Chicago Cinema, 2013
Cinemanila International Film Festival, 2012
Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, 2012

Comcast Xfinity on Demand, Center for Asian American Media, 2017
PBS, Filipino American Lives, 2015

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