In Hora Mortis Nostrae: Critique of “Hinulid”

J. Pilapil Jacobo

There is a scene in Kristian Sendon Cordero’s sophomore film “Hinulid” that manifests the predicament of mourning the narrative seeks to work through in its iterations of how forlorn the human can be when abandoned permanently through that event: death.

It is dusk in Iriga. Sita Dimaiwat (Nora Aunor) passes through the cemetery arch on which the Latin phrase “Via Omni Caris” is painted; the bodiless may not cross. Sepulchres are built not to hold the remains of the departed; the mausoleum is such a place, because we are all alone, we fear ourselves also fading. Do not leave just yet; here, a monument. Through a labyrinth of marmoreal tombs, Aunor blends in with the shades of a tropic crepuscule: ochre, as the evanescent sun; obsidian, like the night’s mantle. When she finds her son Lukas (Jesus Mendoza) weeping before the epitaph of his big winner, the priest Mamo (Raffi Banzuela), she enters a frame of grief: she sees the one she has yet to mourn for, mourning.

That the rhythms of sorrow commingle in this instance points to the opportunity where the film locates the time where one is entitled to grieve—memory, that interregnum in the mind where one labors too hard to come to terms with passage: what has gone is not only lost; it is foregone to be found as missing. Even when the injury is not total, the site of ruin tells us: here lies all the hurt, every inch speaks of an unendurable damage. One asks: Did it happen? Was he here? Were all of it true? The moment of provenance is only staged in the instance of yearning.

Cordero is most anxious to pursue this cusp of thought that he conjures the memorialization through a mode of retrieval that reduces intimations of previous horizons of expectations to a mere if not a modest proposal.

The mourning is grounded in a myth of how galactic light is split between maternal brilliance and cherubic luminosity and how the earth registers this scission upon a meteorite isle where fireflies surrender their final blaze. This cosmogonic parabasis internalized as local knowledge is inlaid with a colonial narrative of christological interment: the Messiah is dead, yes, but thrice, as a statuary of identical eburnean figures clothed in vermilion radiance and encased in cuboid glass. Such triplication is a mnemonic to refuse the telos of a sorrowful mystery, much like the melismatic ululations of the folk which decorate elegiac enjambments of the Pasyon quintilla and prevent the lyric from punctuating itself quite predictably, in prosopopeiac loneliness. It has to be said that while this aspect of colonial idiom is now read as a gesture of sufferance that choreographs revolutionary movements, what remains to be articulated is how dolorous maternity intervenes in activating intransigence. “Hinulid” could fulfill that feminine reading of the passion.

It is quite strange that while it is Sita who is portrayed as sorrowful, the dolefulness is not demonstrated according to her lamentational terms. Instead, the agony is projected upon her through this Christ thrice interred. This puts into question the memory that her consciousness is supposed to verify as the truth of her mourning. Sita needs to grieve a dead son thrice: the precocious sacristan, the awkward teen poet, the brooding student of law. What is amplified by this triplication? I’m trying to remember Nora’s face through the three hours of Cordero’s Bikol epic and for the first time, after all those years, Aunor registers vacancy. There is magnification, yes. Mourning becomes Nora, and thrice so. Each time this is staged however, in distinction (her moments of grief delineated through the avatars of his dead son), or in simultaneity (the bereavement syncopated in ternary rhythm), the dolour, because of the imposed repetition, is not pithy.

This peculiar Santo Entierro will only make sense if its triplication can be argued to originate from the Mater Dolorosa herself, and in a relation of correspondence that is less reaction than receipt. The peculiarity of this Pieta should also be mariologically immanent. If Christ could die thrice, of course, Mary should mourn in the same time signature. Nonetheless, the cinema of “Hinulid” must also elaborate how dolorous maternity is thrice possible from a Marian perspective. After all, the narrative is told by Sita, not from her son dying through three ages. The film cannot be assumed to be told “de profundis.”

Fray Marcos de Lisboa’s “Vocabulario de la lengua Bicol” defines “holid” as “recostar al niño en el regazo, o en la cuna.” To lay a child on one’s lap, or in his crib: these are acts of maternal nurturance. And yet this scene also makes sense as the Pieta, inasmuch as it exudes that moment of the Nativity. If Sita must inter her son thrice, it is because his death reminds her of the emptiness of her womb through his childhood, boyhood, youth. His death finally affirms the terminus of her being a woman. Hollowed out by loss, she embodies a desert longing. This must be Aunor’s late style thesis. My well of loneliness has been depleted. I am nothing. I have known all manner of fatigue. I was all womb before. Now, let me be his sepulchre.


And yet: Can this strange fruit return to me, a flower that has long faded? Did my body bear him only for this burial? Was my immaculate conception, my freedom from an originary offense, only a forethought to understanding this emptiness, my blessed virginity as sarcophagus? Did I visit Elizabeth to know of this gift, to be arid once more for the seed of my universal fertility?

Sita mourns the 1) body of her son: 2) the memory of the body she has reared; 3) and her own obsolescence, which she must remember and grieve in advance. Pace Blanchot, one is never present at one’s own death. If his son has faded ahead of her, the hour of her own death looms large in solitariness. Nora’s eyes are vacant to honor the imminence.

What is assumed in the Assumption is mariological mortality. Cordero’s catholic text recuperates such orthodoxy by intending to depict in the triplication the dormition of a conduit of divine indigeneity. Theotokos ruminates on that insight: Thanatos. Now we finally understand that Maria Purissima only ripens to intuit her own deliquescence.

Notwithstanding the truth that mourning the memory of the dearly departed can only be worked through intimately, the secrecy of grief must not be reduced to the sheer privations of the domestic. Memory is not stronger than justice. Memory is as strong as justice. If Cordero has written a screed against the capillaries of power through an indictment of a matrix of institutions which plot the murder of its most thoughtful activists, then an autopsy of power must be demanded, perhaps not through the parabolic distensions of folklore, but within a critical ethnography similar to Nancy Scheper Hughes’s study on “death without weeping” among mothers in a Brazilian necropolis. That Sita refuses the activation of social justice from this instance of motherly hurt turns the critique of institutional power into a perfunctory exercise of grievance that masks a reactionary undercurrent. If homo necans is explained as he is, a person who murders, killing outside the realm of law and in spite of it, now makes fatal sense. If Mary failed to seek justice against Judaic theocracy within Roman imperial jurisprudence, repetitions of such violation of sacred motherhood must be worked out in the post-colonial world, in our case, through the vernacular revolutions of the Pasyon traumaturgy.

“Hinulid” is a cinematic epic from Bikol, particularly a contact zone between the antipodes of catholic Naga and folk Legazpi; Rinconada, where the writer-director and the actress were born and raised, is the linguistic consciousness that seeks its visual form in the film. Iriga becomes the city full of grace. The literary education of the filmmaker entitles him to graft discourses of faith and science through a high modernist mode of narration characterized by heterochrony, expressionism, and a self-conscious system of trope-turning, so that metaphor becomes the principle of argument to argue for the transformation of the screenplay into an allegory of spirit whose rhetoricity takes over the exigencies of montage and mis-en-scène. The cornucopia of symbolic possibilities can be overwhelming, to the point that a scene becomes vacuous time-space. Guillermo Abrenica’s cinematographic approach understands Cordero’s vision of tropical languor and the tedium that such slowness entails. His camera, assisted by Randy Dagooc’s scopus, may be encumbered by immobility, but he allows portraits and still lives to occupy a landscape by turns verdant and grey, at times punctuated by the cardinal choices of art directors Ryan Cuatrona and Celine Belino to portray christophanic hemorrhage. Alec Figuracion’s editorial decisions are precise, seizure of distinctions and simultaneities is indefatigable, although sometimes almost undercut by Cordero’s desire to sprint against himself, as co-editor. The acting ensemble superbly orchestrates a heteroglossic tone variegating on the singular sentiment of melancholy, although Eilyn Nidea is most seductive as a high priestess of the mountains, Jess Volante’s Homeric exhortations are bone-piercing, and Delia Enverga’s crone-mother accesses the sublime objects of the funerary. Raffi Banzuela’s aphoristic style is peerless; he is also perspicacious as a trickster within the Church. Kirby Pala’s purity can disperse the darkest skepticism, while Ken Balmes’s recitals of Gerard Manley Hopkins interlocute the impressionable and the cynical inflections of Lukas’s persona; his caesuras can be full of breath. Jesus Mendoza’s nose is as almost perfect as the Mayon’s cone, but his emotive depths are as various as the Buhi lake. His ultimate version of Lukas is a romantic genius who cannot jump into the crucible of the infinite, because human, all too human to fail as lover and beloved.

In “Hinulid,” Nora Aunor returns to Bikol to mourn thrice, and die along that tropic percussion, against her own will, but in concert with the heart. Those eyes are vacated by sentimentality for the most part, because Sita’s condition pertains to the emotional fragment. The voice is broken, yes, but there must have been so much bliss in the chance to speak in the tongue of her earth, where her agonies and ecstasies remain untethered, through the language of her art made contemporary with the world and vernacular to history by this terrible son of her own homeland, Kristian Sendon Cordero. Memory is stronger than cinema.

Leave a comment

Posted by on 24/10/2016 in Uncategorized


In a brothel for poor men: Film Review of Louie Ignacio’s “Area”

by Nonoy L. Lauzon

The abrogation of the RP-US bases treaty and the eruption of Mt. Pinutubo – that both occurred in 1991 – comprise the two back stories that inform the plot of Area. In the film that won for the country the Special Jury Prize at this year’s Eurasia International Film Festival in Kazakhstan where it had its world premiere, director Louie Ignacio examines the enclave of the poor man’s brothels in his native province of Pampanga that had seen better days prior to the end of American presence at Clark and the cataclysmic devastation wrought by Mt. Pinatubo.

A gallery of characters is presented to provide studies in contrast and individual differences as well as reveal the complex mix-and-match, cross and interplay of ideological convictions that may have allowed the out-of-the-ordinary enterprise to survive and persist. As perspicacity may be said to be one of the film’s pronounced virtues, one can only note its resolve to shun hysteria and sensationalism in dealing with its subject. It even assumes a self-deprecating, sardonic tone – the better to prevent it from wallowing, digressing and degenerating into self-pity and melodrama involving prostituted women.

What makes the film even more compelling is its attention to the four generations of a clan that has opted to keep the family business seemingly at all costs. The dynamics of their relations with the coterie of sex workers under their employ are fodder for gritty spectacle pointing to an ambivalent form of social order apparently oblivious of its dehumanizing sway.


Ai-Ai delas Alas as “Hillary” in Area

What is further manifested is another face of multi-layered Third-World squalor whereby societal contradictions abound. For one, the film is ironically set during Holy Week in the country showing protagonists partake of acts of atonement. The elder of the two matriarchs of the sinful house central to the film’s narrative fought as guerrilla during World War II while the other is battling an ailment that expectedly depletes household finances. Midway through the film with an incident of theft, the culprit turns out to be a barangay tanod constituting what could very well be the film’s critique of the country’s corrupt government that could be so heartless to readily rob even the poorest of its poor and the lowliest of its lowly.

In a gist, the film offers an unapologetic look at the community of sex workers and the subsistence economy that their trade embodies. Succeeding mainly as a milieu-driven and ensemble-performance picture with scenes alternately played for laughs and moments of stirring drama, the clever film says a mouthful about the country, its inhabitants and their craftsmanship for tactical ways of surviving and overcoming the toils and hardships of the day-to-day in whatever trade it may be.

The greatest of Filipino directors in past eras have had their individual celluloid takes on the lives of persons engaged in the oldest profession, filmmaker Louie Ignacio contributes to the pantheon with an indie feature that possesses all the attributes to be remembered for long. #

1 Comment

Posted by on 23/10/2016 in Film Review, Philippine Film



Pagkilala sa Pinakamahusay na Tunog at Orkestrasyong Awral ng 2015

J. Pilapil Jacobo

Tinutukoy ng kategoryang Pinakamahusay na Tunog at Orkestrasyong Awral ang paglalapat ng mga aspektong may kinalaman sa tunog sa pelikula, musika, likas na tunog, sound effects, habang ang mga ito ay sumasalungat o inaayon sa lengguwahe ng mga imahen, at kung gayon ay nagiging makahulugang sistema ng pananagisag mismo. Iginagawad ang pagkilala sa sound engineer at sa tagapaglapat ng musika.

Nominado sina:

Gilbert Obispo at Jake Abella, para sa pelikulang Ari: My Life With A King, kung saan lubos na malikhain ang pagtatanghal sa matandang tradisyon ng panulaang Kapampangan na nakabatay sa taludturang pakikipagtalo ng Crissotan bilang sugpungan ng palatunugang bayan na patuloy na umuugat sa mga hangarin ng awiting bayan na “Atin Cu Pung Singsing” at sa mga ingay at katahimikang itinakda ng masakunang buhay sa paligid ng bulkan at baha.

Nominado rin sina:

Addis Tabong at Francis Concio para sa pelikulang Halik sa Hangin, na muling pinaigting ang mga pangungusap at pakiusap na kasangkot sa romantikong pag-uulayawan ng mga nilalang na magkaiba man ang mundo ay nauuwi pa rin ang palitan sa wagas na kapusukan ng puso ng tao. Napakatimyas ng talinghaga ng gitara bilang hudyat ng pagkakataon para sa pag-ibig na nilalagom ng pamaksang awitin na itinanghal ni Ebe Dancel, ang “Halik sa Hangin.”


Ang videoke (awitin ni Yoyoy Villame at imahe ni Kidlat Tahimik) sa Balikbayan # 1 Memories of Overdevelopment Redux III 


Subalit ang Pinakamahusay na Tunog at Orkestrasyong Awral para sa Taong Pampelikula ng 2015 ay iginagawad kina:

Ed de Guia, Los Indios de España, at Shanto para sa pelikulang Balikbayan # 1 Memories of Overdevelopment Redux III, na sa kanyang post-kolonyal kasaysayan ng ating bayan, ay naisasaysay rin ang salimbayan ng mga tunog, himig, at pananahimik na nagbibigay ng salimuot sa paggalugad ng ating abot-malay sa magiting na tinig ng pakikihamok at kalayaan. Mula sa palitan ng gangsa at ng plawta, sa ingay ng mga awiting bumubulwak mula sa mga makina, sa hindi matatawarang balintuna ni Yoyoy Villame, at pati na rin ng mga impit at ng mga hiningang nakapaloob sa mga wikang Tagalog, Ilokano, Bisaya, sa mga katagang nagugumiit ng kaibang salaysay mula sa Cordillera, sa mga matalas ngunit mapinsalang idyoma ng Espanyol at Ingles, matagumpay na naitutugtog ang isang makabuluhang sipat sa talatinigang bayan na sa pandinig ng laging may hinuha, hinding hindi mapapara.

Leave a comment

Posted by on 12/10/2016 in Uncategorized


Pagkilala sa Pinakamahusay na Sinematograpiya at Disenyong Biswal ng 2015

Jema M. Pamintuan

Siyam na pelikula ang  nominado para sa Pinakamahusay sa Sinematograpiya at Disenyong Biswal ng taong 2015, at ang mga ito ay ang sumusunod na mga pelikula:

Sa Bambanti, ang distansya sa pagitan ng bayan at bukid ay nagtanghal rin ng agwat sa mga nagtutunggaliang uri; sa An Kubo sa Kawayanan, kinasangkapan ang mayamang topograpiya ng Kabikulan upang maghatid ng naratibo hinggil sa pananatili at paglisan, preserbasyon ng kulturang lokal at pakikisabay sa kultura ng labas; sa Halik sa Hangin, may ginhawang hatid ang mga lambingan sa pagitan ng mayayabong na puno ng Baguio, gayundin, may lunggating mababanaag mula sa inaagiw at madilim na tahanan ng multo. Nakapagitna ang sementeryo sa diyalogo ng aliw at lungkot na pinagdaanan ng pamilya sa Da Dog Show, at instrumental ang maliit na baryong pinagtanghalan ng byukon (byuti contest) upang maging lunsaran ng marhinalisasyon ng kaakuhan ng tauhan sa Miss Bulalacao. Ang galawgaw na kamera sa Salvage ay umangkop sa ritmo ng maaaksyon at walang kapagurang salaysay ng pangkat; at nasa krudong estilo at tekstura ng pelikulang Taklub nabigyang artikulasyon ang imahen ng unos at pananalantang nagdulot ng dalamhati sa lalawigan ng Tacloban. Sa salitan naman ng super 8mm at sepia, gayundin sa materyal na kultura ng dekada 80, masasalat ang personal at politikal na ligalig sa Mga Rebeldeng may Kaso.


Gayumpaman, natatangi sa lahat ang pelikulang Balikbayan #1: Memories of Overdevelopment.

Ang nakaraan at kasalukuyang pinaksa ng naratibo ay malikhaing tinalunton ng iba’t ibang antas ng gaspang at kinis ng tekstura ng kamera na nagtanghal ng  pagpapatung-patong ng mga imahen.  at  nagbigay ng panibagong kulay sa mga nauna nang  nailuwal na eksena. Dinala tayo ng mga kamera mula sa mga pay-yaw ng Cordillera hanggang sa mga palasyo ng Europa, sa pamamagitan ng metikulosong pagdidisenyo ng produksyon, ng mga tagpuan, kasuotan, at materyal na kultura, na bagaman sa unang malas ay masasabing nagmula sa magkakaibang yugto ng kasaysayan, ay hindi pa rin pinaghiwalay ng agwat ng panahon at lunan. Ang interbensyon, tagisan, gayundin, pagbubuklod, ng luma at bagong teknolohiya ng pamemelikula ay nagtanghal ng magkakaiba ngunit magkakabigkis ring mga lente, na nag-anyaya sa mga manonood tungo sa nakawiwili at matalas na paggalugad sa pakahulugan ng mga misteryo at piraso ng ating pambansa at personal na kasaysayan. Tulad ng nililikha ng mosaic artist sa pelikula, naunawaan natin ang posibilidad ng pakikisanib ng mga anyo, padron, at larawan,  sa mga  salita at wika, sa mga salaysay ng nakaraan at kasalukuyan, sa mga, biswal na sining, oral at nakasulat na panitikan, upang bumuo ng isang ganap at malinaw na hulagway.

Para sa taong 2015, iginagawad ng Young Critics Circle Film Desk sa Balikbayan # 1: Memories of Overdevelopment, ang Pinakamahusay sa Sinematograpiya at Disenyong Biswal. Isang pangkat ng mga alagad ng sining ang nagkaroon ng kolaborasyon upang maihatid sa mga manonood ang sala-salabid at mayamang kuwento ng kasaysayang nakasandal sa iba’t ibang perspektiba: malugod na pagbati kina Boy Yniguez, Lee Briones Meilly, Abi Lara, Santos Bayucca, Kidlat de Guia, Kawayan de Guia, at Kidlat Tahimik para sa sinematograpiya; at para sa disenyong pamproduksyon, Kidlat Tahimik, at Katrin de Guia.

Leave a comment

Posted by on 26/09/2016 in Uncategorized


Pagkilala sa Pinakamahusay na Editing ng 2015

Skilty Labastilla

Pito ang nominado sa kategoryang pinakamahusay na editing ng 2015.

Ayon sa batayan ng YCC, ang naturang gawad ay tumutukoy sa “konpigurasyon ng mga ugnayan ng panahon at espasyo sa mga eksena sa isang pelikulang may kakayahang maglagom, makitunggali, bumuo at bumaklas ng mga pagkakaugnay, sa pamamagitan ng masalimuot na paggamit ng mise-en-scene at montage.”

Tila napakalaking hamon ang pagtabas ng isang pelikulang napaka-personal at napakaraming footage katulad ng Balikbayan #1, ang obra ni Kidlat Tahimik na sinimulan niyang buuin noong 1979 at hanggang ngayon ay maaaring ituring na work-in-progress pa rin. Ngunit matagamupay na nalampasan ang hamon na ito ng ng mga editor na sina Charlie Fugunt, Abi Lara, Chuck Gutierrez, Clang Sison, at Malaya Camporedondo, sa pamamagitan ng paggalang nila sa pananaw ni G. Tahimik at sa kanilang mapaglarong pagtagpi-tagpi ng mga imahen, mapaluma man o makabago.

Sa Da Dog Show, halos hindi mamamalayan ng manonood ang pagputol ng mga eksena: sumusunod lang tayo sa kung saan tayo dalhin ng kwento ng isang naghihikahos na pamilya na nagnanais mabuong muli. Tanda ito ng husay ng pagkakatahi ng mga eksena ni Kats Serraon.

Sa Halik sa Hangin, sinamantala ni Beng Bandong ang yaman ng Star Cinema at ang maraming kamera at artipisyal na ilaw nito sa pagpili ng pinakamaayos na mga anggulo at kuha ng pagganap ng mga aktor, disenyong pamproduksiyon, at ng setting mismo sa Baguio, at nagbunga ito ng isang mainstream na pelikulang kaaya-ayang panoorin.

Nagtagumpay si Benjamin Tolentino ng Pinakamahusay na Editing sa YCC noong nakaraang taon para sa Mariquina, at sa pelikulang An Kubo sa Kawayanan, pinamalas niya ulit ang kanyang husay sa pamamagitan ng matalinong pagtatagpi at pagtakda ng mahinahon, banayad ngunit hindi nakakabagot na ritmo sa kabukiran ng Bikol.

Sa Mga Rebeldeng May Kaso, dinala tayo nina Raymond Red at Erwin Toledo, mga editor ng pelikula, sa Dekada 80, kung saan umuusbong pa lang ang eksenang alternative cinema sa Pilipinas, sa kanilang maliksi at nakaka-engganyong paghabi ng isang kwento ng magbabarkada na nahalina sa kagalakan ng pamemelikula.

Natural ang pagkatuto ng editing ng isang dokumentarista: sa pagkalap pa lang nito ng mga datos, panayam, at imahen, natutukoy na niya ang gusto niyang ipakita sa manonood. Ngunit alam ng isang mahusay na editor na hindi kailangang palaging tuwid at madaling sundan ang isang dokumentaryo, at sa Shapes of Crimson, malikhaing pinapakita ni EJ Mijares ang araw-araw na pamumuhay ng isang aktibistang manunulat na si Boni Ilagan, at ang kanyang masinop na pagpili ng footage ang nagsilbi mismong screenplay ng kanyang dokumentaryo.


Ang pelikulang Salvage ay binuo bilang isang found footage, na kunyari ang pinapanood nating pelikula ay tuloy-tuloy na kuha ng isang news crew na naging biktima ng salvage sa Mindanao at pinapanood natin ang laman ng kanilang naiwang camera. Dahil dito, kinailangang magmukha talagang hindi pinutol ang mga kuha, at para sa isang 90-minutong pelikula, hindi ito madaling i-edit, lalo pa kung eksperimental ang porma ng pelikula. Nagtagumpay si Lawrence Ang sa pagmanipula ng pelikula para magmistula itong isang bangungot na ayaw magpagising. Sa mabisang paggamit ng quick cuts at juxtaposition ng mga imaheng hindi inaasahan ng manonood, napatingkad ng editing ang pakiramdam na naroon mismo tayo sa gubat na naging hugpungan ng kababalaghan at karahasan.

Iginagawad ang pinakamahusay na editing kay G. Lawrence Ang para sa Salvage.

Leave a comment

Posted by on 25/09/2016 in Uncategorized


Pagkilala sa Pinakamahusay na Pagganap ng 2015

Emerald Flaviano

Tumutukoy ang gawad sa pagganap ng isang papel o karakter na nagsasangkot ng emosyon, damdamin, at karanasan sa mga panlipunang kondisyon ng personal at sa politikal na ekonomiya ng kaugalian at kilos, at kung paano nakatutulong ang mga ito sa pagsasakatauhan ng sarili. Ipinagkakaloob ang Pinakamahusay na Pagganap sa Gumanap, lalaki o babae, matanda o bata, sa isang pangunahin o pang-suportang papel, sa indibidwal o kolektibong pagganap.

Ang mga Nominado:

Walang kupas si Nora Aunor sa Taklub (Brillante Ma. Mendoza, 2015). Bilang ang naulilang si Bebeth, dinakila ni Aunor ang mga nasalanta ng bagyong Yolanda na patuloy pa ring nabubuhay—at tumutulong sa kapwang mabuhay—sa kabila at sa gitna ng pagkawasak ng kabuhayan at pamilya.

Magkaibang mga babae si Mercedes Cabral sa An Kubo sa Kawayanan (Alvin Yapan, 2015) at Da Dog Show (Ralston Jover, 2015), pero parehong ginampanan ni Cabral ang dalawang papel ng may ambag sa pagpapalalim ng danas ng pagkababae. Matimpi at self-possessed ang dalagang si Michelle na malaya sa kanyang pagkalas sa lipunan, habang walang pangingimi ang pagyakap ni Cabral sa papel ng dalagang musmos ang pag-iisip na si Celia.

Malalim ang pag-unawa ni Alessandra de Rossi kay Belyn, na mag-isang itinataguyod ang pamilya sa Bambanti (Zig Dulay, 2015). Ipinakita ni de Rossi ang laging alanganing kinalalagyan ng batang biyudang ina na umaasa at nakikisama sa mga kapamilya. Ang batang aktor na si Micko Laurente ang gumanap bilang anak ni Belyn na pinag-akusahang nagnakaw ng kanyang tiyahin.

Hindi lang isa na namang magandang mukha sa entertainment industry si Julia Montes, bagay na pinatutunayan ng kanyang pagganap bilang si Mia sa Halik sa Hangin (Emmanuel Palo, 2015). Maraming pinagdadaanan si Mia—pagkaulila sa ama, pakikisama sa bagong pamilya ng ina, unang pag-ibig—na siyang nagbigay naman ng pagkakataon kay Montes na maipakita ang lawak ng kanyang pag-unawa sa pag-arte.

Unang pagbida ni Ronwaldo Martin sa pelikula ang kanyang pagganap bilang Jaypee sa Ari: My Life with a King (Carlo Catu, 2015). Malaki ang naging papel ni Martin—na kanya rin namang nagampanan ng buong may kasanayan at matimping pagdamdam—bilang high school student na bumuo ng makabuluhang pakikipagkaibigan sa matandang makatang nakilala sa isang school event.

Epektibo naman ang ensemble cast ng Salvage (Sherad Anthony Sanchez, 2015) na sila Jessy Mendiola, JC de Vera, Joel Saracho, Barbie Capacio, at Karl Medina. Bilang TV production crew na sinisindak ng mga hindi maipaliwanag na mga kaganapan sa isang liblib na baryo, malaki ang ambag ng kanilang pagganap sa pagtimpla ng engkwentro ng mga manonood sa partikular na teknika ng pelikulang found footage.

Magkakasama namang itinaguyod ng ensemble cast ng Mga Rebeldeng May Kaso (Raymond Red, 2015) na sila Felix Roco, Epy Quizon, Nicco Manalo, Earl Ignacio, at Angela Cortez, ang kwento ng matapang at naging makasaysayan ng pagpupursigi ng mga short filmmakers para ipagpatuloy at ipagdiwang ang kanilang sining noong 1980s.


Ngunit natatangi sa lahat ng pagganap na mga ito ang kay Lou Veloso bilang Sergio sa Da Dog Show (Ralston Jover, 2015). Mistulang maliit lamang ang kahingian ng papel kay Veloso: sinusundan ng pelikula ang araw-araw na pagsisikap ni Sergio para tustusan ang pangangailangan ng kanyang pamilya sa pamamagitan ng mga dog show sa iilang pampublikong espasyo sa Maynila. Sa bandang dulo ng pelikula ipinapamalas ni Veloso ang punto ng lahat: ilang sandali lamang mababanaag ang maliit na ngiti ni Sergio sa pagitan ng kanyang dalawang anak lulan ng bus pa-Maynila, ngunit marapat at epektibo itong dramatic moment na nagtatapos sa buhay na pinaghaluang pait at tamis ng matanda.

Pagbati kay G. Veloso sa kanyang tagumpay.

Leave a comment

Posted by on 21/09/2016 in Uncategorized


A Doggone World

JPaul S. Manzanilla

Arresting in its simplicity, Ralston Jover’s Da Dog Show confounds as it mesmerizes, proving that an austerity in form can offer the richest of subjects.

We begin on the street with father, daughter, and son displaying the tricks that their dogs Habagat (also the term for “southwest monsoon”) and Bagwis (also a Tagalog word for “feather”) play. The audience observes that the show is nothing astounding, only a demonstration of the dogs’s literacy and submissiveness. This is what sustains the family, whose misery is palpable when we see them living in a mausoleum at the country’s biggest public cemetery.

It appears that the mother’s absence and her taking of the youngest child Eddie Boy are what wound them more gravely. The already-adult daughter Celia has no support in attending to her physical nature. Son Alvin forsakes the exam for the more-immediate need to earn when the father gets ill. In one scene, a blossoming attraction to a girl is suddenly postponed because he doesn’t have a phone. He later on procures one, to contact the girl and his mother, who later on calls but terminates the conversation upon hearing her husband. The ailing father fails to provide for the family’s upkeep. The mother becomes present only in her disappearance; by way of active repression, her husband executes an exorcism by declaring to the census-taker that she has long died. This state of injury they try to heal by taking Eddie Boy back from the custody of the mother’s relatives. Here, the confrontation of morality acting as maternal prerogative and law purportedly negotiating rights is at its subtlest. They were able to recover the beloved son, only to lose Habagat when the father attended to nature’s call.


Mercedes Cabral as Celia in Da Dog Show (2015)

Magic develops in working out otherworldly possibilities that support—not falsifies—Celia’s conception of reality. Her nervous condition takes a stab at the fragility of sanity which they all maintain amidst scarcity and the mother’s phantom presence. Should one claim that poverty does not preclude one from securing respect? A flip side of the same idealist coin, this supposition essentially dehumanizes the poor more because their condition is denied—and more so, its causes—before valuing their struggles, which are only individualized, after all. Or that they are fated to be poor because they appear more human(e) when they are miserable? There is a light that never goes out.

Bereft of overdramatization, the screenplay strokes the very foundation of the viewer’s emotions. It does not cajole; it does not pander; it does not taunt. It makes us suspend our empathy lest we rob the family of their dignity. Lou Veloso is dazzling in a self-effacing performance.

We end on the bus on the streets and roads plying the long journey from a dark night in Southern Tagalog to Manila with the son recovered, but with the dog Habagat missing. They are returning to the troubled street and deathly space of their residence. Is the supplement that is the dog dispensable or necessary? Are they now whole or still incomplete? Will Habagat’s specter be banished or will it haunt them until forever?

Leave a comment

Posted by on 14/09/2016 in Uncategorized