In Memoriam

  Agustin "Hammy" Sotto  

Hammy as Visionary

By Ray Edmondson


      Sadly and unexpectedly, SEAPAVAA has lost a pioneer. Agustin "Hammy" Sotto was one of the founding council members of our association. His vision and passion for documenting and preserving the film heritage of his homeland has inspired many both within and beyond its shores. The events that led to the foundation of SEAPAVAA can not be imagined without him.
      I first met Hammy on my initial visit to Manila in 1993, at about the time SOFIA was coming into being. I will never forget the sense of conviction which Hammy conveyed at that meeting, and he lived it out for the rest of his life. I am proud to count on him as a friend and colleague. His legacy will remain with us.


Film: Hammy's love and passion

by Clodualdo del Mundo


      Agustin Sotto, Hammy to his friends and associates, passed away on the 24th of April 2001, at the age of 51.
      Film was Hammy’s passion, equalled only perhaps by his love for the opera, but, undoubtedly, his obsession was film research. It must be this obsession that moved him to organize a group that would be devoted to film archiving. How else can film research develop without the support of a solid film archiving program? Film archiving was virtually non-existent in the Philippines, then, but the group decided to call itself the Society of Film Archivists (SOFIA). In 1993, as a result of the 1993 ASEAN Conference of Film and Video Archiving to which Hammy headed the Philippine delegation, the organization was formed with Hammy as its founding president. Their goal was to save significant Filipino films that were deteriorating into oblivion.
      Hammy was one of those instrumental in making film archiving a key program of the ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information. With the Comprehensive Program for audiovisual archiving in the region drawn, the stage was set for the confederation

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of audiovisual archivists in Southeast Asia. In 1996, the Southeast Asia Pacific Audiovisual Archive Association (SEAPAVAA) was formed and Hammy was elected to represent the associate members in its first executive council.
      Hammy was a teacher. He taught at De La Salle University and at the University of the Philippines. He was a critic and the chair of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (Critics of Filipino Film) at the time of his death. He was a documentary film and video maker; one of his later works was on organ donation for the Philippine Kidney Institute (ironically, Hammy suffered from kidney failure as a complication of his diabetes). Of course, he was a film researcher; Hammy left a voluminous manuscript -- an index to Filipino movies, from the early years to the late 1930s.
      Time will tell what his contributions to film archiving in the Philippines and the ASEAN region really means. And when the magnum opus of his research is published, then the film world would get a better understanding of Hammy’s obsession with the medium he loved most.

14   AV Archives Bulletin