A little-known Filipino adaptation of Lord of the Flies
Every year, tens of thousands of school children in English-speaking nations the world round are given the immense pleasure of being forced to read what is often considered the foremost literary masterpiece of our time, Sir William Golding’s beloved classic Lord of the Flies. Which means every year Google is flooded with tens of thousands of searches for Lord of the Flies Sparknotes. Or if you were like I was in school, you just watched the movie.
Two well known film adaptations of the novel have been made: a black and white English production in 1963, and a more modernized American production in 1990. However, few know there also exists a 1975 Filipino adaptation entitled Alkitrang dugo, or as it translates into English: Asphalt blood.
I had searched in vain for this hidden gem ever since first hearing of its existence several years ago, but I had trouble finding it available anywhere this side of the globe. I had all but given up hope on ever seeing the film when it finally fell into my lap a few days ago.
A group of young, Filipino athletes from civilized upbringings find themselves stranded on an uninhabited island after their plane crashes, claiming the lives of both their pilot and coach.
Luis organizes the group and appoints himself leader. They scout the island, find fresh water and gather coconuts, they try to build a shelter, and they start a fire to keep themselves warm and alert passing ships of their whereabouts. But Andy is more interested in playing Indians and hunting wild game, and it soon becomes evident that he is unhappy with Luis’ leadership. Andy challenges Luis to a proper vote, resulting in a division amongst the group, half in favor of Andy and half in favor of Luis. What follows is a rapid descent into savagery and all out war between the two groups.
The film is comparable to the original 1963 version, both being far superior to the 1990 remake. It remains fairly true to the novel in some regards, but in a few places takes liberties. For instance, in the novel only boys are stranded on the island, while the film depicts boys and girls stranded on the island together. This of course brings up the subject of sex, which I’m sure is exactly what Golding had intended to avoid (not that it would make any difference nowadays). The opening credits do not directly credit Golding’s work, but rather list him as an inspiration.
Alkitrang dugo was produced by then dazzling Filipino starlet Nora Aunor as a vehicle to drive the acting career of her younger brother Eddie Villamayor, who plays the role of Luis in the film. Though fairly popular in the Philippines at the time of its release, the film failed to garner a wider release around the globe, perhaps due in part to its subject matter dealing with clashes between Filipino social classes, a dynamic no doubt unknown to western audiences.