The Colorful, Dramatic, Happy-Sad Lives Of Elders Take The Spotlight In This Year’s Cinemalaya
As we age, we are forced to whittle down our concerns to life’s bare essentials: health, survival, and our closest relationships. To people in their late 30s and 40s, thoughts of growing old shoot in and out of our heads more often. And no matter our stage in life or the financial plane we find ourselves in, there’s always a bit of fear that comes with these thoughts.
Of the ten final full-length entries in this year’s Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival (opening August 3 with Erik Matti’s BuyBust), three are preoccupied with the winter years. There’s the Celeste Legaspi-starrer Ang Mga Bisita ni Mamang; Che Espiritu’s Pan de Salawal starring every 80s kid’s kuya, Bodjie Pascua; and Kung Paano Hinihintay Ang Dapithapon by Carlo Enciso Catu.
Ang Mga Bisita ni Mamang by Denise O’Hara revolves around an old woman battling dementia just so she can spend more time with her unmarried middle-aged son. Legaspi, all deglamorized for the role, plays Mamang. “I had 50 costume changes,” she told an interview recently, “from one ugly duster to another.” Her son is played by Ketchup Eusebio who has acted in musicals produced by Legaspi several years back. There’s a scene in the teaser we’re all excited to see in full: when young actor Alex Medina joins Legaspi in the shower, and both appear to be naked. We are also looking forward to see Legaspi in the big screen again (although she was just in Larawan last December but that was such a small part for her big personality) and in the title role—a role that reminded her of her mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s before she died.
Kung Paano Hinihintay Ang Dapithapon is about three seniors caught in a love triangle of sorts. Benedicto and Teresa were once a married couple but his womanizing pushed his wife to leave the relationship. Teresa has since been living with a widower, the pediatrician Celso, but her quiet, uneventful life would be shaken by a call from the past: Celso is sick and alone and needs taking care of, and would Teresa mind doing the caring? Three veteran actors make the cast of this intriguing story: Dante Rivero (Celso), Perla Bautista (Teresa) and the character actor Menggie Cobbarubias (Benedicto). Teresa says yes to her ex’s request after he asks for forgiveness. Does it mean she still loves this man who wronged her?
In Pan De Salawal by Che Espiritu, Sal (Pascua) is a lonely, ailing, and impoverished panadero who has given up on life. He has a chronic kidney ailment. What’s worse is that his neighbors are equally ill (not exactly an ideal company to keep)—a crampy barber, a former beauty queen with emphysema, a paralyzed dancer, and a strapping meat vendor with a breast tumor. In short, they are all living on the fading hope of recovery. In the trailer, Sal, short for Salvador, is seen attempting to get run over by a train. He introduces himself in perhaps the most morbid way one can introduce himself: “They say life is short. But I am already 78 years old. Why am I still alive? And rotting alone in this world.” It’s not all that bleak, though. He meets a street urchin that he allows into his life and his circle of friends. We’re guessing this will have a happy ending. The way we pray our own growing old stories will.
The 14th Cinemalaya opens on August 3 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and in Ayala Cinemas the day after. The festival runs until the 12th of August. Click here for screening schedules
Lead images from the Cinemalaya's Official Facebook Page