Archive for October 12, 2008


BONA: Truly one of Brocka’s best

I was pretty lucky last night during my channel surfing. Mainstream Philippine television seems to offer nothing but sick melodramatic and long-winded stories of young stars in superhero costumes, diva ensembles, and depictions of pathetic beings from fantastic and ridiculous places. But, and the big but is, cable offers a lot of much needed alternatives!

For one, Cinemaone, the cable channel that showcases Filipinop films, has an outstanding Lino Brocka film on their primetime programming last night. A 1980 film that is, though flawed technically, is truly compelling and affecting.

Bona is one of Brocka’s films that was showcased in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival – the olympics of world cinema. Though not in competition, watching the film will convince the viewer why the French truly obsessed with THE Lino Brocka — and why Nora Aunor, in spite of her colorful life, remains to be one of the Philippines’ true thespians.

Bona is the story of a slum girl, played by Nora Aunor, a hopeless fanatic. However, she is not obsessed with a superstar but with Gardo, a bit player, a movie “extra” so to speak, portrayed by Phillip Salvador.

Truly obsessed as Bona was, she would attend to the myriad needs of her “master” everyday – cooking for him, washing his clothes, cleaning his house, helping him take a bath – and in one moment of weakness, even offering herself to her master which she has come to regard as the hub of her life.But Bona’s devotion is never really acknowledged by Gardo, as he continually treats Bona like a slave, even bringing home other women.

Bona’s dreams, bound to be shattered in from the star, ends with the disillusioned fanatic dousing boiling water on her abusive master.

This really affecting psychological film has, as its main strength, the brilliant acting of Aunor and Salvador. It is very convenient to go the easy way and make caricatures out of their characters, but Aunor and even better – Salavdor, envelope their roles with very human qualities and a rare depth. Hence, it is in the acting that the film is able to0 achieve its goal, sans the bad cinematography and sound, misplaced scoring, and haphazard editing.Whiel not technically assured as Brocka’s “Maynila”, the film succeeds in communicating insightful statements as it is very intelligent, not to mention very Filipino.

All in all, Bona is an affecting film about the Filipino’s blind fanaticism, the poverty and subhuman conditions that has rendered the fanatic to be immersed in an escapist universe of silly dreams, blind servitude, and irrational obsessions – with often tragic results.

People pray for pain to go away. Others get their relief in no time. However, others struggle with pain their whole lives.

People pray for material and financial providence to meet life’s daily necessities. Some are rescued and alleviated from the depths. Still, others remain impoverished and financially challenged.

People pray for a special person to enter their lives and sweep them off their feet. Others find themselves meeting that person and settling down after a few years. Others remain alone for the length of their lives.

People pray for physical healing. Others are healed. But sometimes, even though we keep on praying, the people who matter the most still die.

Sometimes, hanging on to the promises of the Bible isn’t as easy as it seems. It takes faith to come before God and lay down our petition. Moreover, it takes a giant leap of faith to believe that God would grant us what we ask for. But most of all, it sometimes takes all the faith in the world to still trust in God if it seems that He is not hearing our prayers at all.

If there’s a promise given to us to ask anything in His name and it shall be given to you, what does it mean if God is saying NO? Was the promise just a joke? An overblown press release? A tease?

God answers our prayers. Sometimes, it’s obvious that His answer is a resounding YES. In other instances, He tells us to WAIT. But, God also has the option to say NO.

What does it mean when God denies our petitions? What does it mean if He says NO?

1. God sees the BIGGER PICTURE.

Suppose a 14 year old boy asks his father the keys to the car because he thinks that he is old enough to drive along the  thoroughfares of EDSA. Knowing that his son may meet an accident and lose his life, coupled by the young boy’s immaturity and shortsightedness, his father would obviously say no.

As in the case above, God says no to protect us. He sees the bigger picture. We don’t. He sees what lies in the future for everyone. We don’t.

2. God has BETTER PLANS.

My sister always prays for financial providence and guidance. Indeed, being buried in debt and providing for one’s children can be a daunting task and a huge stressor. At times, we focus our prayers on one specific result – and that result is for God to grant and for us to receive. We’re wrong.

While God can make it possible for an envelope full of cold cash to come by the doorstep of my sister’s house the next day, or a phone call telling her that she has won 5 million Pesos in the lottery, these are not the only solutions that God could think of.

Instead, God may grant a job promotion. Or He may lessen the expenses by preventing family members from getting sick. He may extend help through a generous and selfless family member, friend, or relative. He may bless one of your kids with intelligence and talent that can assure him/her with a schlarship to continue his/her education. Truly, God’s options are endless. It is His work, His ways, and His proper time that prevails.

3. God has  a GREATER PURPOSE.

Christian Adams was a 32 year old Sunday School teacher from the United States. He boarded United Airlines Flight 93 from Newark, New Jersey to San Francisco, California on September 11, 2001. He never got there.

United Flight 93 was one of the four planes used bu hijackers in the terrorist attack of 9/11. However, it was the only plane that did not reach its target – the White House or The Capitol Building. This was because the passengers worked hard, at the final moments of their lives, to thwart the plan of the hijackers. Adams was one of these passengers. Before the plane crashed, he phoned a loved one for the last time. He had a wife and 2 young children.

While his wife had sure prayed and wished that her children would grow up with a father, the events of 9/11 changed everything. 

While it may be true that Adams was a victim of an evil crime against humanity, he left a legacy of selflessness and patriotism that will never be put to waste. Though his children would grow up without his physical presence, the life led by their father would always shine upon them – giving them hope and inspiration. Adams understood that losing life is a part of life. A fairly recent interview from his wife proved to be a testament that she too understood this now more than ever. 

Indeed, when God says no to our prayers, it shouldn’t be taken to mean that He has forsaken us. He just has something bigger, better, and something far greater in store for us. We should consider it a privelege and a test of faith to still be able to follow him even if His answer is NO.

For in our short pilgrimage in this world, we can be sure that He knows better. And it couldn’t be more thrilling!

 

 

This is how this writer sums up Gil Portes’ latest film. Aptly titled Barcelona, this didactic melodrama is another retelling of the plight of our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW’s), much in the same vein as the well-made romance/drama Milan (2004), the loud Dubai (2005), and the superior Sana Maulit Muli (1995) from a several years back. Simply put, Barcelona tragically pales in comparison to the other films mentioned.

 

Clarissa is a mysterious young woman who left the Philippines for Barcelona, Spain in search for her lost husband. While in that Castilian city, she meets and is immersed in the plight of her compatriots. There, she experiences utter loneliness, hopelessness, friendship, and the blossoming of new love.

 

The material itself is quite provocative and juicy, as there surely is something new to say about the plight of our countrymen in Spain. Sadly, the film just becomes a silly homily, led by the director’s heavy-handed direction, and the writers’ antiquated and totally contrived vision.

 

The technical flaws were just simply overwhelming. The sound is bad and seems hollow at times, the editing is painfully slow and dull, some parts of the movie were overscored, and the cinematography is bad. Sure, the film is in digital format. But it simply isn’t an excuse to photograph scenes in distractingly dark shots while being overly suffused with natural light in other parts. Even as a travelogue, where camerawork is very important, the film still fails miserably.

 

The acting ranges from mediocre to bad. Alessandra De Rossi, who plays the lead role and Robert Arevalo who played a tormented widower turned in average performances – plain and passable. Tina Paner, who plays herself, acts in a very hectic and unnatural manner. The rest of the supporting cast and extras were obviously waiting for queues from the director, hence performing in a very amateurish manner.

 

Sadly, this has got to be Portes’ and Senedy Que’s lousiest screenplay, as their final output examines nothing new about the OFW experience. Absolutely nothing! None of the issues too were uniquely endemic to the OFW’s of Barcelona that one would even wonder why the filmmakers needed to make a film in Barcelona when it could have been shot here in the Philippines (even name it Tagaytay, Fairview, or Novaliches so as to make it a little less pretentious) with a better cast and much better production values. Moreover, the metaphysical/philosophical twist in the end is not really enlightening nor unpredictable – just plain silly and contrived.

 

On a more tragic note, this film is probably Portes’ sorriest. After the success of his Mga Munting Tinig (which is quite an outstanding film), Portes has been hitting lows one after the other. A calculated melodrama in Beautiful Life, a long-winded narrative in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and now, a really bad and unfortunate film like Barcelona.

 

The public could not be faulted for largely snubbing this preachy digital feature. When this writer saw the film, less than ten people were inside the moviehouse. Save your cash would be the best advice for anyone reading this article and has yet to see the film.

 

All in all, a film like Barcelona is the perfect Christmas present that a respected director like Gil Portes could offer the Filipino viewer. That is, if he hated us – each and everyone of us.

Check it out guys…

RICHEST PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES

 

  1. Laguna
  2. Pangasinan
  3. Bulacan
  4. Negros Occidental
  5. Cavite
  6. Nueva Ecija
  7. Palawan
  8. Cebu
  9. Batangas
  10. Quezon

 

POOREST PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES

 

  1. Zamboange del Norte
  2. Maguindanao
  3. Masbate
  4. Surigao del Norte
  5. Agusan del Sur
  6. Surigao del Sur
  7. Misamis Occidental
  8. Mountain Province
  9. Biliran
  10. Lanao del Norte

 

MOST LIVABLE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES

 

  1. Bulacan
  2. Bataan
  3. Cavite
  4. Rizal
  5. Batanes
  6. Laguna
  7. Ilocos Norte
  8. Batangas
  9. Pampanga
  10. Isabela

 

LEAST LIVABLE PROVINCES

 

  1. Sulu
  2. Tawi – Tawi
  3. Basilan
  4. Ifugao
  5. Maguindanao
  6. Lanao del Sur
  7. Agusan del Sur
  8. Western Samar
  9. Lanao del Norte
  10. Saranggani

 

 

1. Guard your vision carefully from the influence of negative people.

2. No one’s stopping you but yourself.

3. If you were born poor, there’s nothing wrong. But if you die poor, something is definitely wrong with you.

4. Nothing happens to us where God doesn’t have a purpose. He always has a purpose.

5. The most insecure people are the people who think only of themselves.

6. The highest reward for man’s toil is not what he gets for it but what he becomes by it.

7. Do not be carried away by the crowd. If you have a dream, stand by it.

8. Character can not be developed in ease and quiet.

9. Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation.

10. Possess firm character. Focus on the positive. Persevere.

This devotional entry spoke volumes to me when I read it a long time ago. I hope that you will be inspired by it in the same way that I was.

Taken from THE EXPERIENCE DEVOTIONAL by Henry and Richard Blackbaby:

Just everything in this life is subject to change without notice. Your friends can become your enemy. Your family can be removed from you. Your health can go. You can lose your job. Nothing is guaranteed to remain the same, except one thing. There is one constant, one thing you can count on, now and forever – and that is the unfailing love of God.

There is nothing you can do and no place you can go where God’s love for you is not there. The apostle Paul tried to imagine a way that God’s love would not be available or sufficient. He couldn’t think of one. No matter what your situation is right now, whether you are healthy or suffering from disease, employed or unemployed, on top of the world or feeling like a failure, living the Christian life victoriously or suffering from the consequences of sin, NO MATTER WHAT, God loves you.

God’s love isn’t altered by your cirsumstances. it doesn’t depend on your environment. It is steady and unchanging. Even demons can not stop God from loving you. God is not intimidated by your problems or your flaws. If there is anything that the Bible makes crystal clear, it is that God loves His children. That’s why the psalmist could proclaim with confidence, “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His love endures forever. ”

You may feel at times that God couldn’t possibly love you. You may look at your present circumstances and wonder why a loving God would allow you to go through such difficult times. Always remember that your state of mind is not what determines God’s love. Nor is His love decided by your current situation. God’s love is the one thing in life you can safely count on. Base your security on this one unchanging truth: NOTHING CAN SEPARATE YOU FROM GOD’S LOVE. That’s a promise.

37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.                                  

– Romans 8:37-39

At this point, let me share with you my very own chart of the best songs to come out of 2007. Since it is personalized, obviously, the chart is highly subjective. There was no intention from this writer to measure airplay spins per song or make a detailed inventory of albums sold and singles legally downloaded. Rather, I just compiled a list of songs that I really enjoyed listening to throughout the year.

When it comes to liking a song, the genre is always crucial. As in my previous lists, this chart will again be very heavy on rhythm and blues. However, unlike my previous yearend charts where hiphop and rap music are also largely favored, 2007 was more of a stalemate when it comes to the evolution of hiphop. Apart from strong CD’s by Kanye West (Graduation) and Common (Finding Forever), rap music is sadly on a decline in 2007. New material from Nelly, 50 Cent, and T.I. pale in comparison to their previous works, while other major rap artists will only be releasing new material by 2008.

R&B, on the other hand, is full of new talents. New female soul singers have emerged in the limelight and were given significant radio exposure such as Chrisette Michelle, Ledisi, and Keyshia Cole. Of course, Jill Scott, Fantasia, and Alicia Keys were still hot in r&b radio. Corinne Bailey Rae also continued her critical success that started in 2006. As for the males, Ne-Yo, Chris Brown, and John Legend were all successful in their sophomore efforts. Less stellar performers such as Tank, Marques Houston, and Sammie also contributed to the piano-laden ballads that saturated r&b radio. Moreover, blue-eyed soul (R&B music that is performed by non African-American performers fall into this category) was also well represented this year with the likes of Robin Thicke and AI 5 alumnus Elliott Yamin.

 

      Along with the Norweigan duo Stargate, Timbaland is perhaps the hottest producer of 2007. While his own album entitled Timbaland Presents Shock Value received mixed critical reviews, the CD yielded several notable radio hits.

Pop music, on the other hand, remained reliably entertaining for this year. Rihanna had the biggest hit of her career in 2007, Daughtry enjoyed massive radio airplay despite lukewarm reception from music critics. Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, and Pink had successful albums this year, while mega-sellers like Kelly Clarkson, Celine Dion, Britney Spears, and Janet Jackson all tanked with their 2007 outputs. On the other hand, pop ballads were still relatively hard-sells in radio, especially when it comes from maturing artists like Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, and Bon Jovi. Thankfully, John Mayer and Michael Buble both bucked the trend.

The songs below made it to the list for a variety of reasons. A handful of the choices made it because this writer has a personal inclination for the discography of the singer. In some instances, the musical genre already does the trick. Still, other choices proved to be too ear-friendly for the writer to resist. Finally, some songs mirror very personal experiences in the life of this blogger through their all-too personal lyrics.

Enough of the long-winded introduction. Below are the most memorable songs of 2007 –at least from my own turf!

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Everything – Michael Buble (from the album Call Me Irresponsible)
  2. Hate That I Love You – Rihanna feat. Ne-Yo (from the album Good Girl Gone Bad)
  3. Go On Girl – Ne-Yo (from the album Because of You)
  4. Apologize – Timbaland feat. One Republic (from the album Timbaland Presents Shock Value)
  5. Wait For You – Elliott Yamin (from the album Elliott Yamin)
  6. Stronger – Kanye West (from the album Graduation)
  7. Can You Believe – Robin Thicke (from the album The Evolution of Robin Thicke)
  8. Dreaming With A Broken Heart – John Mayer (from the album Continuum)
  9. The Way I Are – Timbaland feat. Kerri Hilson (from the album Timbaland Presents Shock Value)
  10. Bubbly – Colbie Caillat (from the album Coco)
  11. What Goes Around Comes Around – Justin Timberlake (from the album Future Sex/Lovesounds)
  12. Makes Me Wonder – Maroon 5 (from the album It Won’t Be Soon Before Long)
  13. Teardrops On My Guitar – Taylor Swift (from the album Taylor Swift)
  14. Who Knew – Pink (from the album I’m Not Yet Dead)
  15. With You – Chris Brown (from the album Exclusive)
  16. Heartbreaker – Tank (from the album Sex, Love, and Pain)
  17. Over You – Daughtry (from the album Daughtry)
  18. Teach Me – Musiq Soulchild (from the album LuvanMusiq)
  19. Walk Away (Remix) – Paula deAnda feat. Dey (from the album Paula deAnda)
  20. P.D.A. (We Just Don’t Care) – John Legend (from the album Once Again)

While in the midst of some serious research work, I found myself exploring my Ipod and came through a list of the Top 25 Most Played Songs. Without any agenda, let me share the updated list below. So, what songs are on YOUR list?

1. Apologize – Timbaland feat. One Republic

2. Go On Girl – Neyo

3. Wait For You – Elliott Yamin

4. With You – Chris Brown

5. Hate That I Love You – Neyo feat. Rihanna

6. So Sick – Neyo

7. Love In This Club – Usher feat. Young Jeezy

8. Everything – Michael Buble

9. Stronger – Kanye West

10. Always On Your Side – Sheryl Crow and Sting

11. I Stay In Love – Mariah Carey

12. The Way I Are – Timbaland feat. Kerri Hilson

13. Seasons of Love – Stevie Wonder and the Cast of RENT

14. What Goes Around Comes Around – Justin Timberlake

15. Migrate – Mariah carey feat. T Pain

16. Sexyback – Justin Timberlake

17. Black Horse and The Cherry Tree – KT Tunstall

18. Be Without You – Mary J Blige

19. Hold On – Wilson Phillips

20. Waiting On The World To Change – John Mayer

21. Baby – Pharell feat. Nelly

22. Until The Ennd of Time – Justin Timberlake feat. Beyonce

23. Don’t Stop The Music – Rihanna

24. Tatoo – Jordin Sparks

25. Dreaming With A Broken Heart – John Mayer

Released commercially this week in Metro Manila Theaters is Stephen Daldry’s female drama “The Hours.” The film captures the lives of three women who lived in three different time periods and environments.

The film gives us a peek into the troubled and complicated world of the female psyche, as it dissolves, deconstructs and subjectifies the myths and quasi-truths that have long been accepted by society as the measures of happiness, fulfillment and all-encompassing definition of the female essence. Thus, the film maintains an ideology that may be halfway through feminism yet detours into the more vague postmodernism.

Clarissa Vaughn (Meryl Streep) is a middle-aged woman of the present time who is about to draw a party for her special friend Richard, a gay man afflicted with AIDS. Rewound into mid-twentieth century, one finds Laura Brown (Julianne Moore), a simple infanticipating housewife who is preparing a cake for her husband’s birthday. The lives of these two women are intertwined with the life and work of Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), a famous writer of the early twentieth century.

The film opens with a view of the flowing river, easily suggesting a continuity of fate and predicament which is seen throughout the film, as it draws parallelisms in the lives of these three women, intercutting with one period to another, conveying the message that time does very little, if not nothing at all to change how one understands women or if put on a more reflective manner, how society perceives women.

In the film, Virginia Woolf is shown as an accomplished writer. However, her success in her vocation is not enough to earn her the respect of her servants. Her inability to connect with her immediate environment transforms her into a disenchanted outsider. Her relationship with her husband remains harmonious albeit distant.

On the other hand, Laura Brown is a dutiful housewife and mother who sees her environment not as a home but more of a prison. In the early frames of the film, she is shown as a wife and mother who is not even at ease in being one.

Meanwhile, Clarissa Vaughn is depicted as a contemporary woman who takes care of somebody else to distract herself from her own life and existence. Superficially, she is depicted as a compassionate and loving woman with an all-too-human heart. But deep inside, she is cold, selfish, bitter and a coward who masquerades as somebody who takes care of the needy just to show that she has a purpose and that she is important.

Certainly, the film touches on a lot of issues and tries to address and eventually dismantle the myths that have been taken up as facts.

First and foremost, the film conveys the message that marriage and motherhood do not define the essence of a woman. With Laura Brown, we see that being a wife and mother are actually the roots of her unhappiness and misery. She had lost herself by playing roles that she is forced to choose between playing roles and actually living the life she wants in the end.

The film also seems to suggest that the opposite sex has very little to do in terms of defining a woman’s happiness. In the lives of both Laura and Virginia, we see responsible, understanding and kind-hearted husbands that could perhaps be the relish of every woman with a dream to eventually marry and settle down. However, it is evident in the film that these characteristics are not enough to make a woman happy. Throughout the film, we see the central characters as women who have minds of their own, exclusive of their husbands and loved ones. Hence, they are put in situations where they eventually have to face their own existence while on the other hand, trying to run away from it.

The film also conveys that altruism is not as important as the one who is actually performing the altruistic act. The feeling or the sense of being needed becomes a security blanket that prevents one from examining her own life and oftentimes becomes a selfish motive in itself.

The film also tackles on the issue of female relationships and female bonding. Hence, it is not more of a matter of women needing men but actually women finding solace and peace in the company of other women, sans any sexual connotation.

As for artistic evaluation, the film is highly commendable for breathing new life to the often saturated melodramatic arena of run-of-the-mill movies about people trying to make sense of their own lives. The aspect of time that is utilized in the film enriches the whole viewing experience. However, there are moments when the script becomes overly serious that it is evident that some humorous injections are sadly lacking in the film, in favor of philosophizing and introspection.

On the other hand, the technical elements of the film- cinematography, editing, sound and production design have all been utilized artistically, except for the music which tends to be obtrusive, unnecessary and overly used in some parts where the use of silence is more properly suitable.

However, the greatest strength of this film is its acting. All three characters deliver such strong performances and they are well-matched by the equally strong supporting cast, especially Ed Harris, who played Streep’s gay friend and Stephen Dillane who was equally magnificent as Virginia Woolf’s other half. Kidman’s prosthetics-enriched performance is worthy of an Oscar nod (although she was clearly inferior to Dianne Lane’s flawless act in “Unfaithful”) but she does not necessarily upstage Streep or Moore in this film. Daldry’s direction, meanwhile, is smooth and assured till the very end.

Finally, “The Hours” is such a sweeping film with a truthful, reflective and honest outlook on women and life in general. It is a poignant film that is definitely, one from the heart.

New directors are much welcome in a desperately wanting film industry like ours, at a time when most of our films are suffering from a drought in creativity, integrity and intelligence And truth to tell, Meily’s debut film from the Palanca award-winning script which he also wrote is a minor cinematic gem on its own.

A very welcome breath of fresh air for the Philippine movie industry ushered in this Christmas season through rookie filmmaker Mark Meily’s Crying Ladies, which is probably the most original entry in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival.

New directors are much welcome in a desperately wanting film industry like ours, at a time when most of our films are suffering from a drought in creativity, integrity and intelligence And truth to tell, Meily’s debut film from the Palanca award-winning script which he also wrote is a minor cinematic gem on its own.

The movie centers on Stella Mate, played by the most commercially viable actress for the last twenty years or so, Sharon Cuneta. Stella was previously convicted of estafa and had just come out of prison to start a new life. She seeks for her son which is now in the arms of the boy’s father (Ricky Davao), who has already taken in a new family and is planning to transfer to Cagayan de Oro together with his new wife and his son by Stella. Unable to find a stable job, she accepts the offer of the son of a Chinese man who had just passed away, played by Eric Quizon, as a professional mourner, payed to cry during the wake up until the actual burial.

As for the other Crying Ladies, Hilda Coronel portrays the role of a starlet during the 70’s who just can’t seem to wake up from her dream of becoming famous, which never quite materialized. Angel Aquino, in turn, plays a religious woman who is always torn between saying no and continually sleeping with a married man, played by Raymond Bagatsing.

The situations facing the characters in this movie are not really big. Instead, their problems are the problems of the common man, desperate to find, define, and redefine their purpose in life.

With this much of the plot laid down, it is easy to turn the film into a forgettable melodrama. But the miracle is, this film is actually an intelligent comedy about life, hope and the need to move on.

The scenes which lengthily show crying are actually scenes where the characters really do have to cry, because they are paid to do so. However, as the film tackles the lives of the three characters, the audience is made to laugh and feel amused with the three women, no matter how real their trials are. Stella is about to be separated from her son, which she has made the hub of her life. She tries everything to get a stable job which could earn her the right to keep her son for good. In the end, she still loses him to her son’s father. The other crying lady (Coronel) is still trying to earn credit for her bit role in a silly 70’s film, for it is the only way in which she could feel good and worthy. The last of the three (Aquino) was able to say no to the call of the flesh in the end. But for how long, is still pretty much up in the air.These real situations, finely illustrated in this comedy, underscores the scriptwriter/director’s message of the need to be hopeful, to unhook and move on with our lives. Yet, he tackles this in a non-simplistic way for in the film, none of the conflicts and problems of the characters are resolved fully. Instead, the film ends with a message of hope for the characters as they get another chance in life. Hence, it is enough to say that hope is enough to once again ride the motorcycle of life.

The technical elements of cinematography, production design, music, editing and sound are all outstanding. In truth, this is actually one of the best photographed films of the year.

Meily’s direction is competent as well. He knows how to stage his scenes very well and he gets his actors as well as the technical aspects of the film to work in almost perfect harmony. This is the advantage of being the scriptwriter and the director at the same time.

However, though the cast was generally okay and the actors obviously dished out their best in handling their respective roles, there surely were flaws that unfortunately make the film less believable.

Ricky Davao, who plays a security guard and the father of Stella’s son, doesn’t fit in his role. He looks too clean and even the language that he and his new wife employs does not fall to the socioeconomic class that they are actually portraying. Stella’s son looks like the son of a CEO who lives in Forbes Park and certainly not the son of a securitiy guard and a streetwise mom cum ex-convict. Moreover, Hilda Coronel, whose performance in this film is not bad at all, suffers from a rustic characterization which was taken from earlier films. To her credit, her performance in the film gave her role more meat than it actually has. Lastly, Cuneta, with her smooth-skin and mestiza features, could never make this author believe that she is actually portraying the role of a streetsmart woman who had just gone out of prison. Though she learned the typical moves, language and expressions of her character, her appearance could have been improved through make-up and costume.

On the other hand, Quizon is so effective as the bereaved Chinese son who still has a bitter heart over his dead father. Angel Aquino gave out the best performance among the three ladies, which is actually a feat because she had the least scenes and screentime among the three ladies. So did Bagatsing.

Granted the film’s merits and its undeniable flaws, this movie is actually a giant leap forward in introducing a kind of comedy in Philippine cinema that makes use of the brain, the senses and the heart – amid an industry long enamored with slapstick comedy and toilet humor. Truly, this film is a milestone in introducing comedy in Philippine movies that is polished, realistic and most of all, intelligent.

All in all, Crying Ladies is a completely enjoyable film that does not violate the viewer’s ability to think and take a closer peek into the meaning of living. It is an enduring message of hope that life, in its numerous trials and tribulations, is still worth living.