Bontoc Eulogy

The 1904 St. Louis World's Fair included a live exhibit of tribesmen from what is now known as the Philippines; what happened to these people?

Premiere Date
April 1, 1997
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1996 National Educational Media Network-Gold Apple
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1996 SFFilm Festival-Silver Medal
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1996 Ann Arbor Film Festival-Honorable Mention
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1996 Chicago Asian American Film Festival-Best Historical Documentary
  • Nominated laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1996 International Documentary Association (IDA)-Distinguished Achievement Award
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    1996 Black Maria Film & Video Festival-Juror's Citation Award
  • Producer

    Marlon Fuentes

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    The Film

    Marlon E. Fuentes' Bontoc Eulogy is a haunting, personal exploration into the filmmaker's complex relationship with his Filipino heritage as explored through the almost unbelievable story of the 1,100 Filipino tribal natives brought to the U.S. to be a "living exhibit" at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. For those who associate the famous fair with Judy Garland, clanging trolleys, and creampuff victoriana, Bontoc Eulogy offers a disturbing look at the cultural arrogance that went hand-in-hand with the Fair's glorification of progress. The Fair was the site of the world's largest ever "ethnological display rack," in which hundreds of so-called primitive and savage men and women from all over the globe were exhibited in contrast to the achievements of Western civilization.

    The Manila-born Fuentes explores his complex relationship with his Filipino ancestry by researching the path of Markod, a Bontoc Igorot warrior brought to St. Louis in 1904, never to return home. Using historical data from the Library of Congress and the National Archives, 90-year-old archival footage, and seamless recreations, Fuentes weaves the story of the missing Markod with his own musings on the fate of his ancestral "grandfather" and the whereabouts of his final remains.

    Fuentes, who serves as the film's on-screen narrator, quotes a well-known Philippine saying: "He who does not look back from whence he came from will never ever reach his destination." With Bontoc Eulogy, Fuentes has created an insightful and poignant examination of history, family, memory, and cultural loss, and a film that speaks to the entire immigrant experience.