Spanning more than three decades in production, this epic film in three parts charts the life of Enrique de Malacca, a freed Malay slave of the sixteenth-century Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan (a man History writes as the first to circumnavigate the globe despite the fact he died before the journey was complete). With Tahimik’s friends and family as continuous cast and crew (thus this essay is also a kind of biography as family album in motion), Enrique is imagined not only as a slave returning to where he feels he belongs, but also in parallel as a reborn figure of the twentieth century, journeying through the foothills of the Ifugao and their customary practices, where unbeknownst to him, he is also looking for ‘home’. This is a tale of a slave and his loot and the teaching of his master, of the ultimate ‘return’ to the ‘indio genius’ ways of life, whose historical signposts are not chronologically linear, but rather respectfully balanced (thus practised) as ritual, speech and symbol.
Balikbayan #1: Memories of Overdevelopment is a collage of film media prevalent over the last 30 years. Thus it stands as a kind of technological memorial, whose woven medium reflects time in itself—a unique filmic accompaniment to Tahimik’s playful fragmentation of narrative.