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Cinemalaya’s 6th year has brought us Dan Villegas and Paul Sta. Ana’s coming-of-age film, Mayohan. Awarded Best Actress for Lovie Poe, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Musical Score in the New Breed Category, Mayohan is a celebration of the season’s harvest and the season to find romance. The townsfolk convene in prayer (Padasal) for a number of nights, culminating in a candle-lit parade and a festive dance (Pasayaw) by month’s end. This story tells us of the unseen and the taboo changing the meaning of tradition over time. It also tells us of a city boy finding rest and healing in the province from his traumatic past by the budding of a first love.

Elias (Elijah Castillo) is a young teen brought over to Infanta, Quezon during the summer break. His aunt wants him to be able to put his mind and body at ease from the accident that cost him a limp leg along with his parents’ life. On a night of Padasal, Elias introduces himself to Lilibeth (Lovi Poe), an older teenager, and president of the organizing committee of the Pasayaw. The following day, even with his limp leg, he accompanies her to the far ends of their town as she gathers donations from men for the funding of the culminating event. It is later revealed that girls who participate in the Pasayaw cannot decline from whoever chooses to dance with them. Also, that the Pasayaw, taboo for the promiscuous activities of the town’s youth, is the “modern” where and when of losing virginity. However, Elias’s affection for Lilibeth has not been tarnished or moved an inch by the words of his too-promiscuous uncle (Ping Medina) who reminded him that probinsyanas are far from pure. This is actually my favorite and one of the strong points of the film: breaking the romanticized, pedestaled myth of the probinsyana. 

Though it rescued the blah scenes where the shots weren’t really visually expressive but only served as time pieces to build up Elijah’s affection, the score was too close to that of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Shots of the beach, were too obviously graded. This wouldn’t normally bother me if it were part of the core visual theme or better, as part of the story. But realism was more of a key note in this. So, no.

Still, points for a good story and a fresh take. And multitasking as a director/DOP for a shooting schedule of 10 days. And having a real fight happen in the middle of shooting the fake one.
8 out of 10.

Photos from: Mayohan's Facebook


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