A Film Review of FILIPINAS
Directed by Joel Lamangan
Story and Script: Roy Iglesias
Produced by Viva Films

"Filipinas," the movie, is about Filipinas, our country. The setting is contemporary; affirmed in the first few seconds — a cellphone-snatching scene. The movie revolves around the story of the Filipinas family -- upper middle class, with a residential property and a few hectares of farmland. The siblings and other characters represent the different facets of Philippine society.

The story is narrated through Yolanda (Maricel Soriano), the eldest, a fledgling spinster. She manages the household and takes care of the needs of widowed and aging mother (Armida Siguion Reyna). Samuel (Richard Gomez) is a U.S. immigrant. Vicky (Aiko Melendez) trades the produce of their farmlot. Her business is barely surviving as it cannot compete in a market flooded with cheap imported farm products. Not even a partnership with an Indian financier, her fiancee, can keep business afloat.

Clara (Dawn Zulueta) is an overseas Filipino worker (OFW). Coming home, she finds herself alienated from her child and feels indignant over her husband's dependence and persistence on her being an OFW. Eman (Victor Neri) is an activist. He has transcended his bourgeois roots and committed himself to workers' causes. Narciso (Wendell Ramos) is a military officer. Not typical, he is idealistic, honest and handsome. He squeals on corruption within the military; gets assigned to Basilan; is killed in action.

Their individual stories do not unfold in a straight line. The scriptwriter and director craftily interweave their lives, revealing it part by part, little by little, giving it telenovela suspense. But, unlike the usual telenovelas, the lives of the characters did not move according to chance, success or failure based solely on individual perseverance or talent. Their lives are moved too by the nature and events of society of which they are a part.

The different persuasions and orientations of the siblings are enough reasons for disquiet. Mother Filipinas seeks tranquil repose in church and the calming words of the priest. When the priest revealed that he was leaving his vocation to take care of his son (a funky hiphopster, to emphasize the satire), she was dumb-founded. But what really knocked Mother Filipinas out was the fight between Americanized Samuel and activist Eman. In the melee, she literally got the fist and dropped to the ground unconscious.

The doctor diagnosed her state as irreversible and left the family to decide on whether or not to pull the respirator, the only thing keeping her alive. For a while, the family stood still; until Yolanda asserted that the family should not lose hope and do everything to keep mother alive. That is staking the future on fate. This is the weak point of the story.

Symbolically, however, it sends the message that no matter how dire the state of affairs of Filipinas, our country, we should not lose hope and do what we can to save it. Yolanda, representing the next generation, took the initiative by taking over the helm. Samuel opted to return to the U.S. Eman chose to join the struggle for the transformation of society in the countryside. The rest of the family, showing delight upon reading Eman's letter, implied their support for his cause. The film, as well as reality, presents these options.

The actors are shoo-ins for best awards. The crying scene during the burial of Narciso was a bit extended; but, overall, pacing was fast. Sex was nil (if an intimate scene of a bare breasted male and a lacey night-gowned female is "sexy," then it's almost nil.) There were sprinklings of contrived dialogues. Drama was abundant. All considered, to quote Bien Lumbera, film critic and Magsaysay Awardee for Literature, "Seldom does a movie refer to current events and allows audience to understand society." Watch "Filipinas," there is reason to hope.

Reference: Julie L. Po, Secretary General
No. 65 10th Ave, Cubao, Quezon City

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I only had the chance to watch this movie through GMA 7. This is such a wonderful movie that every family should watch. NO wonder why this movie received a lot of awards including the best actress award that Maricel Soriano received. This movie is for all ages. Now a days these are the types of movies that everyone should watch. A movie that is full of moral and that will surely touch your hearts and your soul. A movie that open up your eyes into realization that this kind of situation really exist. This might me the current situation of our family. We can never tell.

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