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When I first saw the trailer of this film, I was immediately anxious. Sure, the cinematography and the production all seemed beyond lovely. But, when the trailer zoomed in on this being about a woman defying convention (and I know others even promoting it as a story about a woman ahead of her time), I knew something was going to be fucked up.

But I was so excited to watch it. One, the historical clothes and setting are so cute! Two, Dennis Trillo in suspenders! Three, I just didn't know how fucked up the story would be.

I mean really, "a story that must be told"? Why? Why do I have to listen to Hesus (Dolphy), son of Rosario, talk about her immoral mother? Dear Hesus, how does telling a story that focuses on the immorality of your mother cleanse her sins?

Here's the gist: American colonization period. Cigarette smoking, New York-schooled, and piano-playing Rosario takes a vacation in her father's hacienda. Then she falls poor-little-rich-girl in love with her father's worker, administrator of the hacienda. They flirt. They have sex. Father finds out and has the worker Vicente beaten almost to death.

Rosario's family moves out of the hacienda and sends Rosario to a nunnery (where the nuns are really stoically funny, I might add) to hide face from the *gasp* scandal. She was pregnant, of course.

But surely, love will find a way, right? So Vicente finds a way to send a letter to Rosario. They elope. And they raised a family and stuff.

Somewhere along the way, Vicente catches tuberculosis and the inevitable patriarchal disease of being an asshole. First, he gets mad at Rosario for wanting to have a job. Next, he gets mad at Rosario for having sexual needs.

Rosario, with the so boring life she has, gets seduced by Alberto (Dennis Trillo? Who wouldn't?) and cheats on her husband. Dear Vicente, it's okay not to have sex with your wife since you are sick and all, but to brush her off like that? Like it's sinful to want sex from her husband? After she takes care of every little basic need you have? God, it wasn't an age of "beauty and innocence." It was an age of really self-righteous people (men?).

Rosario and Alberto get caught, of course. Vicente takes it to court. The immoral Rosario and Alberto get exiled from the country. Wow, I really hope Philippine laws improved even just an iota.

So I don't know how getting exiled works, because the film didn't inform me too, but time cut comes in and Rosario and Alberto comes back to the Philippines with their son Hesus. They rent a place, Alberto leaves Rosario and Hesus, another guy gets attracted to Rosario, and it was about this time that I just really gave up on the film. (It took me this long, I'm patient, I guess.)

Other things happen. Rosario suffers from missing her children with Vicente, but we all know she deserves it, that HALIPAROT. She's forced to pay rent with sex. The landlord gets beaten almost to death because of this other guy in love with Rosario. And then stuff. And then Hesus tells us that he has now told the story of his mother and hopes that it cleanses her sins. Actually, all throughout the film, he keeps telling us that his mother sinned. Even the legit one with falling in love with Vicente.

And then there's this dream-like scene where Rosario was playing the piano with her children. And I'm like, what the fuck? The whole film focuses on her "sinning," on her having sex, and aside from this last bit, the children only had three or four scenes. Some of which only existed in a montage. The movie expects me to feel for her? How can I? With Hesus telling me how sinful his mother was? When the movie lay heavy on everything that Rosario supposedly did wrong?

First of all, I have this nagging notion inside me that all of our ancestors weren't as "prim and proper" as we make them out to be. I don't think Rosario was the only one who had sexual needs and did something about it.

Two, a woman defying convention? A woman ahead of our time? Because of, huh, sex? How about the ones not because of sex, can we make a film about them? Like those who joined the war against the colonizers. Yes, people. We know this. There are women fighting for our country's freedom. From the Spaniards, to the Americans, to the Japanese, and to this present day.

Three, okay. We don't want to make a film about class conflicts and wars. We want to focus on how bourgeois stuff were like back in that historical backdrop. Okay then. But if you tell me that she defies convention and she's ahead of her time, why is the movie so keen on emphasizing how she has "sinned"? Is that how to be ahead of my time? I should "sin"? What will this do for me, as a woman in this period? Prevent me from having sex and supporting the RH Bill? Because well, according to this movie, sex is baaaaaaaaaad.

Fourth, she's not even ahead of her time at all. She, like other women then and even today, is as domestic and as caged in patriarchal ideologies.

Fifth, this would all have been solved if they took out Hesus' narrating and preaching. Or if they had the guts to take it further, they could have also focused on everything that this woman lost when she was under each man's wings, and focused on everything she gained when she wasn't. It could then have had the same tragic ending, without the stupid moral lesson. Only the lack of redemption─in a sense that a really unconventional angle (unconventional because it looks like in matters of women, we simultaneously progress and regress) would be to present her not as a sinner, but as a woman wronged by her milieu.

For Dennis Trillo and the lovely production.


"...but we all know she deserves it, that HALIPAROT.

I love this line. We missed you Claire. Hehe.

Claire said...

Haha! Di rin naman pala ako nakapagpigil sa pag-rebyu. :P Group hug? Choz!

Whew. Na-feel ko ang galit mo sa nasayang na magandang production design. May tama ka jan. Hehe.

And I agree kay Sting Lacson, I lurve that line. HALIPAROT is so swak. Hahaha.

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