Tuos: An Exotic 2016 Cinemalaya Entry

I have always believed that a superb art no matter what medium it is should be something that emits emotion subject to the sensors’ perception.  It should be an art that is open to the subjective interpretation by the people who experiences it.

This precept is especially true of the Filipino film entitled Tuos, an official entry in the 2016 Cinemalaya Film Festival presently running at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.  The conduct of the story as well as the moods of each of the characters in the film are all subject to the interpretation by the viewers.





Directed by Derick Cabrido, I consider Tuos as one of the most exotic Filipino film from among the Filipino films that I have seen.  Though the movie has the tendency to get quite dragging, some of the rich colors of the Filipino customs and culture were shrewdly presented.

And aside from the impeccable acting of the legendary Filipino actress, Nora Aunor who plays Pina-Ilog in the movie, what particularly impressed me by Tuos were the additional layers of art that were fittingly mixed in the story.  The landscape presented in a modern visual art and the haunting old folklore of a song mixed together during the animation portion of the movie were pure brilliance.  These layers of art added up to the already rich texture of the movie.

When the movie ended and was already rolling its credits, I was left s mystified, stunned and thinking.  With my limited cerebral capacity, I tried interpreting the scenes and the narratives that were presented.  And there’s one last thing that I realized about Tuos, that it is indeed one exotic and powerful movie that only the smart and brainy human beings would be able to appreciate.

Sori na lang sa mga bobo, pang matalino lang ang pelikulang ito.

Kasal by Joselito Altarejos

kasal movie poster captured from cinemalaya 2014 website

kasal movie poster captured from cinemalaya 2014 website

My two most favorite scenes in the movie Kasal (The Commitment) directed by Joselito Altarejos are the dialogue-less squabble scene of the two main characters in the middle of a green-lush alleyway in which instead of spoken dialogues, a sweet Tagalog love/wedding song is being played and the passionate love making scene that features the two main characters along with the old-timer veteran Filipina actress Boots Anson Roa.

I loved the long-shot dialogue-less quarrel scene because even though you could not hear what the characters are articulating you can actually see and feel from afar what they are saying.  This one is a truly magical achievement for the director who was able to capture such a rare feat.  Very seldom in a Filipino-made film that I have seen this.  Usually in a Filipino movie, for a message to be conveyed it needs to be overtly spoken and for an emotion to be felt the main character should be shot close up.

The other impressive scene was the pink love-making part of the movie.  Aside from the challenging erotic calisthenic-demands for the actors, the scene was further made difficult because a film clip of the well-respected and morally-right veteran actress Boots Anson Roa is being flashed and projected directly onto their skin.  It’s like having sex with someone while your senior citizen elementary school religion teacher is closely watching.  How on earth can you attain the ecstasy and worldly bliss?  Thus, kudos to the director who was able to think and execute something as unique as this.

the young bride (photo taken from cinemalaya 2014 website)

the young bride (photo taken from cinemalaya 2014 website)

Aside from these two richly flavored scenes in the film, Kasal (wedding in English) was able to highlight various dynamics about marriage, love, commitment and family.  And what is so impressive about it is that these dynamics were navigated in an incredibly solid and cohesive manner.  The impressive story also depicts the irony of a happy wedding celebration which can actually be the reason for sadness, struggles and troubles by those involved by it.  The story and scenes were so close-to-reality viewers inside the theater were expressing their unconcealed elated reaction while the movie is running.

Though the main characters did not end up being together as an item and that the ending was rather sad, you nevertheless will feel – if you would just deeply contemplate – that the lead characters in the story will be just fine in the future.  And that is another remarkable achievement of this film.  The ending was a sad silent pause yet still pleasant.

Now I can say that I already have a favorite Altarejos film.  I had some problems with the technical aspect of the movie most especially the dubbing.  But all these were easily erased by the trueness and sincerity of the story as well as the impressive execution by that of the superb director.

Kasal (The Commitment) is a finalist and an official entry in the Director’s Showcase category of the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival 2014.

Ay howp it wins…

Hustisya by Lamangan: An Injustice to Nora

hustisya movie poster grabbed from cinemalaya website

hustisya movie poster grabbed from cinemalaya website

Joel Lamangan is a Filipino film director who has been very successful in consistently disappointing me with his works.  I have seen a couple of his movies but seeing his latest one made me conclude that it would take me a great deal of convincing to watch his future works.

Lamangan’s latest movie is entitled, Hustisya.  It stars the great Nora Aunor. This film is an entry in the on-going Cinemalaya film festival.  Unfortunately, for my taste the 2-hour film, Hustisya, is a big disappointment.  Because I was so bored in the first few minutes of the movie, I kept on looking at my watch.  And to my surprise the first disenchanting 35 minutes of the movie was nothing but seeing Aunor walking within the rundown streets of Manila.

For me, the movie’s core and story can easily be told in less than 45 minutes.  It ran for 2 hours because Lamangan inserted unnecessary footages of the sorry-looking and sordid spots of the City of Manila with the aim of putting socio-political connotations for the film.

For me, Lamangan is nothing but an inferior imitator of the genius Filipino film director Lino Brocka.  The latter’s work contains heaps of socio-political implications and undertones which would hit directly into your being.  Lamangan’s representation of socio-political issues on the other hand seem nothing but superficial.

Because of the footages inserted in the film and the secondary scenes placed in the movie (like the anti-government rally that suddenly came out from nowhere; the pickpocket scene inside a train; or, the stabbing murder scene along a dodgy street), which has nothing to do with the story has failed to touch a nerve.  His depiction of social ills and government-political inadequacies looks artificially pilit (forced).

Lamangan must thank the heavens for Aunor who agreed to be in the film.  She is the sole saving grace of this movie.  And I cannot imagine how the film would look like or what the film would have become if it was not for the great Aunor who stars in it.  Without Nora, this movie could easily be considered a non-worthy entry in this year’s highly prestigious Director’s Showcase category of Cinemalaya festival.

Jusko, epik peyl naman ‘tong si Manong.

Epic Pornographic Fail



When the movie suddenly stopped and reeled on the credits, I felt blunt.  The people in front of me were already standing up and leading their way out of – CCP’s Tangahalang Huseng Batute – theatre, but I was still seating there trying to absorb and figure out what I just saw.

That is what I exactly felt when I saw the Cinemalaya 2013 Directors Showcase category entry entitled Porno.  I don’t know who or what was blunt.  I don’t know if I was the one who was so stupid I did not get what the movie wish to impart or if it was the movie that was simply dull and dreary it should be considered an epic fail.

I guess the director’s failure to string together the engaging tales of the three main characters was deliberate.  The failure to interconnect the key characters with each other in the film is typical of a real porn movie.  And I hate porn movies because of this usual and seemingly incoherent plot.  I can therefore say that I similarly hate this movie because of this.

With the excellent actors in Porno, the movie had its greatest potential to be one excellent film.  Rosanna Roces, Yul Servo, Angel Aquino and even the short stint of Bembol Rocco were effectively compelling.  Carlo Aquino only confirms that he is one great actor of his generation.  When his tale being a porn dubber by profession ended in the movie, I was still yearning that his character would pop out in the end.  If the writer and director effectively interlocked and inter-related the stories of the 3 characters, I would definitely have raves about the film.

But the movie as it is was like watching three slurring short films that were not connected with each other at all.  For me I’d rather watch the corny and clichéd yet entertaining Shake, Rattle & Roll franchise trilogies of Regal Films than watching an incoherent movie like Porno.

Epic peyl…

“Nuwebe” Inside The Sleep Cave

CCP Little Theater

CCP Little Theater

For me, few of the most sleep-inducing places on earth are the theaters of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).  It has autumn-like indoor temperature that makes you want to hibernate.  It also have super soft comfy seats, an easy-to-the-ear acoustics as well as relaxing lighting facilities which would make you drift off faster.  It is one big sleep cave!!

Therefore, if I watch a show in CCP it needs to be very good, interesting, entertaining and/or thought provoking for me to stay awake.



With this thought, I actually almost fell asleep while I was watching the Cinemalaya 2013 New Breed entry entitled Nuwebe.  It has an interesting plot but the director seemed to have missed on how to impart and expound on the attention-grabbing material.  It was a lame creation.  Some loopholes of the movie were actually being laughed at by the audience.   The only redeeming quality of the movie was the superb acting by the lead character played by Jake Cuenca.

I was about to fall asleep when credits at the end of the film started rolling.  I did not clap my hands and I simply stepped out of the CCP theatre… silently snoring.

Kaantok… Zzzz…

Isda (Fable of the Fish)

Isda is a full-length movie entry in Cinemalaya 2011 written by Jerry Gracio.  It is one of the most unique story materials that have been crafted into a film.  The story is about a poverty-stricken woman who gives birth to a fish.  This poignant premise alone has been enough to jolt my interest to go to CCP’s Tanghalang Huseng Batute (Studio Theater) to watch it.

According to the director Adolfo Alix Jr., who was present to answer few audience’s questions after the screening, it was inspired by the 80’s TV show Eye-To-Eye in which host Inday Badiday featured a woman who was said to have conceived and gave birth to a dalag (mudfish) in the midst of a raging super typhoon.

Isda is an intriguing account that crumbles the barrier between true to life drama and the fight of imagination.   I can consider this film as one of the greatest films of Philippine cinema.  It’s rich, it’s multi-layered and it’s thought provoking. What I like most about the film is that it leaves the viewer to decide in what slant and perspective he wants the characters of the story to be perceived and takes the lesson/s out from it.

I was very impressed with the delivery and portrayal of actors and actresses in the movie.  Cherry Pie Picache in the lead role (of Lina, the mother of the fish) was so overwhelmingly effective she was able to reconcile the irreconcilable.  Picache’s portrayal and attack on the role was serene and simple yet so real and undeviatingly precise.  She was able to depict Lina’s character being a normal loving wife and mother without any tinge of being psychologically insane.  I was actually made to believe that she truly gave birth to a fish and nurtured it.

Bembol Rocco, who portrayed as Miguel (the father of the fish) was a class of his own.  He was no doubt compelling.  Though he uttered very few lines, Rocco exhibited the full intensity of his convincing characterization through his mere looks and gestures.  Supporting actors and actresses in the film – Rosanna Roces, Anita Linda, Evelyn Vargas, Allan Paule and Arnold Reyes – were equally brilliant.  Even the fish in the movie deserves an acting award!

I am not a film authority but for me, Isda (Fable of the Fish) is a mixture of great elements of a motion picture: a unique and intriguing material; a distinctive director; and, an inimitable cast.  It deserves all the awards and recognitions it will be bestowed with, may it be in the local or international film arena.

Parang gusto ko kumain ng pinangat na tulingan.

Cinemalaya, Rafa Santos & Bisperas

I don’t have the exact figures but from my personal observation Cinemalaya 2011 is a big hit.  Judging from my experience last night when I watched one of the full-length entries, the CCP Main Theater was jam packed.  It was unlike the previous Cinemalayas wherein only few souls had the interest to watch.

I’m sure organizers are partly thankful to Rafa “the-joke-that-never-was” Santos who ignited curious interest of the movie-going public after expressing in an awful TV interview that he prefers to get theater actors in his films because according to him these thespians don’t complain even if they are fed with biscuits three times daily and paid in cat food.

True enough, from the full-length film entry I watched last night (Jeffrey Jeturian’s “Bisperas”), the best performance exhibited in the film was not from the main stream actors and actresses – who sometimes dip their fingers in doing indie film for them to classify themselves as true motion picture artists – but it was from Jen Donnaire, the lady who played the role of Evelyn, the katulong (maid).  The recognized celebrities who starred in the film expectedly portrayed their respective roles in histrionic modes but the actress who played the role of the maid was so natural, so believable and so true-to-life.  She acted with spontaneity without the melodramatic embellishments.  Watching her would make you forget that she is an actress and would make you believe that she is a maid in real life.  Her portrayal certainly do not just deserve biscuits and cat food.

Siguro naman di lang meow fud and binayad sa longkatung yon.