Notes on ‘Taklub’ (2015)

TAKLUB (2015)

Lou Veloso’s character in Brillante Mendoza’s film that’s been making waves in both local and international film circuits for almost over a year now is only a blithe example of how experience can get you a remarkable performance. Whether it’s to present how unimaginable a situation is for a small character as his ‘Mang Renato’ in Taklub or how his portrayal can manage to swim along the brilliance of Nora Aunor.

I still stand on what I wrote on Film Police. I still think that Lou Veloso shines more than Ms Aunor, although I admire how she stayed true to the character, without overpowering her co-stars Julio Diaz and Aaron Rivera and Mr. Veloso. There’s just something about the whole performance that at some point did not make me want to believe in what she was [selling] to me. She exudes that matriarchal empathy that the film needs as much as we need our mothers most when times are rough. There are several episodes of personal tragedies faced during Typhoon Haiyan which were featured in local dramas, and Taklub offers it in a grander scale.


In the recent light of Heneral Luna’s success, let this post be a reminder that Taklub was also screened to local cinemas on September 16th. It would be interesting if people went to watch this one too, then perhaps we can truly confirm that this will continue the change that Philippine Cinema needs.


A full-length review of the author is posted under Film Police Reviews. Click here to read more. Photos on this post are taken from the same review.

Lone Auteur


Been here last night. I’ve been invited here before but due to the location of the venues (last year I think it was at B-Side in Makati) I never went. But thankfully, since I now live in Quezon City I had no other reason not to go. And so I went alone and took the pedicab from home to Freedom Bar. The event, which is organized by the University of the Philippines Cineaste Studios, the country’s first film related organization.

I was looking forward to the silent film competition called “Haute Auteur Silent Video Competition 2013” and last night was when the winner for the said competition was announced.

Apparently since I had somewhere else to go by 11pm I left at 9:30 but was satisfied with what I saw among the finalist in the Silent Video competition.

One of my favorites would have to be Ramon Raquid’s Figures which features a guy brushing his teeth but this would appear as “figures” due to the Solarized format of the  video.

I had one free beer and saw a long time friend along with her boyfriend who was one of the finalists. I wasn’t able to meet Radioactive Sago Project but I was satisfied that I went and at least try to enjoy every bit of ht show.

Good luck to all finalists.

Mariposa sa Hawla ng Gabi (2012)

Erich in Mariposa sa Hawla ng Gabi

Directed by Richard V Somes

Starring Erich Gonzales, Maria Isabel Lopez, Mark Gil, John Lapuz, Joel Torre, Alfred Vargas, Odette Khan, Dennis Padilla

Story by Richard Somes, Screenplay by Somes, Boo Dabu, and Jimmy Flores


I have never seen Erich Gonzales in an indie role before. Nor have I ever imagined her being as feisty as her role in Mariposa sa Hawla ng Gabi. If there ever was, you are free to remind me or let me know of it. We all remember her as that girl who won the star search, that girl from Davao who won household hearts with her roles in local telenovelas and movies with leading men and storylines that are a bit risqué but with the help of the studio she is in contract with it becomes your typical “tweetums” flick. She’s your typical image of sweetness.

But in Mariposa, we see a different side of her acting prowess as she takes the lead as Maya, a simple but feisty young woman from the slums of a province who goes to Manila in search of her older sister. She receives a telegraph from a woman whom her sister lives with, played by Maria Isabel Lopez. With a little hint from a calendar Maya looks at, the year is 1994. There is nothing much in the set design that would contradict that we are in the early nineties, her outfits are mostly boyish flannel shirts and jeans and Chuck Taylors.

As she arrives in Manila, posters of a young woman endorsing soap is everywhere. Is she her older sister? Or does she just look familiar? Maya looks at the poster but doesn’t say anything. This may or may not lead us to think of the two but that I cannot tell and I guess you’d have to see the movie yourself. At the bus station she meets the Maria Isabel Lopez character. She asks about her sister but only gets a bad feeling that something has indeed happened. She asks the irritating question of “Asan ang ate ko? Anong nangyari sa kanya?” / “Where’s my sister? What’s happened to her?” I guess more than once… but she doesn’t get a reply. We the audience are left to believe that there is something in store for this story. And we are about to get a brief answer.

Maya is brought to the morgue to see her sister’s dead body, but since she doesn’t have enough money to claim the body, she decides to avenge her sister’s death and make the people responsible pay. She starts off by looking for her sister’s ex-boyfriend played by Alfred Vargas. He accompanies her in tracking down the people who killed her sister. Turns out the bad guys work with the police so turning them in would be difficult, but that event never happens anyway. The leader of the bad guys is played by Mark Gil whose bittersweet romance with his ex-girlfriend turns into a sick business of kidnapping girls and changing their faces to match that of his idea of the “perfect girl”. He’s also into monkey business which you’d have to watch to film first to understand what it is. The addition of that into the story is something I find bewildering. The early action scenes were exciting to watch although you’d get to see a different woman’s hair being pulled instead of Erich’s (her voice gave it away, I guess. It was so funny to watch rather than exciting) but as the story continued to progress, so did the enthusiasm I had earlier to continue watching the film. Figuring out whatever symbolism or meanings there were in each scenes, I’d say it fell flat as there was that need of a back story to back up the part where they all go back to their lives like nothing happened. They just had to finish it off by finishing it off the way movies do—- killing the bad guys and walking out.

It’s still a good film you should consider watching. But proceed without any expectations of the type of action films you’re hoping to look forward to.

Baybayin: The Palawan Script

Baybayin poster, courtesy of
Baybayin poster, courtesy of


Baybayin: The Palawan Script

Written and directed by Aureaus Solito

Music and Sound by Diwa De Leon

Starring Alessandra and Assunta de Rossi, Adrian Sebastian and Sue Prado


Alba and Alban are half sisters who share the same name when written in “Baybayin” (which I’ve learned was incorrectly referred as “Alibata” but is known as the Tagalog/Filipino Script). Alba’s father is Canadian, while Alban’s father is a Palawan who died a few years back due to malaria. Their mother is a healer who at the beginning of the film cures a young boy named Bagtik from being sick and possessed. Upon being cured, Bagtik decides to never speak again and chooses to write in Baybayin as a means of communication for the rest of his life.

Alba and Alban form a friendship with Bagtik and they grow a fondness for him and his innocent ways. Their mother and their father notice this and had once talked about how their friendship might be like an old fable about two sisters falling in love with one man. A few months later, their mother dies from Malaria. As a tradition in the Palawan culture, when a family member dies the family left behind must leave their home and build a new one elsewhere, so that they can leave the past and move on. Alban being the oldest is left with her relatives, while Alba is taken by her Canadian father.

A few years later, Alban and Bagtik are now older, played by Assunta de Rossi and Adrian Sebastian. Their fondness has bloomed into love and so they decide to live with each other. Assunta picks the spot at her former childhood home, a lovely spot beside the shore and a shoreline that connects their home to the other island, which seemed to be traced by God Himself.

Alba is now played by Assunta’s real life sister, Alessandra de Rossi, who also played a part in Solito’s Busong. She is now clad in modern clothes and speaks Tagalog more fluently than Palawan. She makes a stop first by a relative’s birthday party wherein she meets a soldier who introduces himself to her. This man is played by Mon Confiado who reprises his role as, well, a promising villain. Alba ignores his attempts to woo her and he seems to be dissatisfied by this. On the evening of her stay, he attempts to rape her but she manages to fight back and run away into the forest. In the forest she is found by an old friend who takes her to her sister.

What I don’t like much about previous Filipino films is that when there is a necessary shot in the forest, especially at night, you will anticipate a fight with the darkness. You will be left clueless as to why there is a scene in the forest although there is nothing you could see. Independent and mainstream cinema has improved and we can now see into the dark spaces, unless it is a required technique that everything has to be dark and the acting is really blah.


Unless the projector used is really dull, I assure you that although some scenes were shot during dawn or at night, you can see that the acting (especially the locals) is really natural. I was worried at first that I might not see Alessandra properly making her way out of the forest, but I was not disappointed. The “innocent” love scenes between Alban and Bagtik are also impressive. Since it is told in the movie that Palawans do not kiss but rather they feel each other’s presence, and that is enough. It felt romantic and important, not cynically depressing.

The people’s love for tradition and their island is not always evident in all places. This pretty much describes our whole country in general. While others strive to protect our Indigenous people, others are blinded by what money, modernism and image can do. Aureaus succeeds in showing us the beauty of own country, our own traditions, our own language, and that love is innocent and kind, if that is what this movie attempts to show us about.

Mon Confiado’s character along with the American tourist and his stout, colonial-mentality infused wife help make the movie real, by trying to steal this Paradise from its caretakers. There is one scene in which Mon and his troop find their way into the elders’ ceremony and steal their gongs just because he heard that the gongs are expensive when sold and that the sound of these have irritated him for the past three years.

The de Rossi sisters are effective as Alba and Alban. I have never heard of them being in love with one man in real life but if they have been able to translate it to the film quite convincingly. They are both known to be loud and outspoken in real life but they have a way of being their exact opposites in the films they star in. Not that I am offended by them being chosen in this role. I was actually excited to see them act together again. They are effective as a team, along with Adrian Sebastian, because they understand each other. A normal person, let’s say that person has been brought up in values of this dog-eat-dog world, would not allow this situation to happen. But since Alba understands that Alban and Bagtik have been taught growing up that this kind of situation happens. That kind of innocence and naivety can exist. This kind of idea may sound threatening to most of us, but the three makes it seem harmless. That as long as love exists, in both sisters and their love for one man, and their love for cultures and traditions, it doesn’t really matter.

Ang Nawawala (what isn’t there)

Marie Jamora might be best known for her wonderful direction of music videos for Imago, Sandwich, Urbandub and that Eraserheads MV for their song Maskara (Well at least in our household she’s known for that.) and other local bands in the industry. It is evident that she likes to play with lights and sounds in her debut film for this year’s Cinemalaya Film Festival called Ang Nawawala (What Isn’t There), this film definitely deserves the Audience Choice Award & Best Original Music (New Breed Full Length Feature).

Ang Nawawala is an eye-candy hipster bred film. That is to describe it in a few words. But in more than a few, it has that feel of a thesis film come true, being shown in a full length feature. When you take a vow of silence, like the film’s main character, Gibson Bonifacio has done since he was ten, and you just want to tell the world everything without losing someone, and something of yourself, you can always turn to music and photography to gain back that “voice”.

Gibson has returned to Manila after his studies abroad. Now twenty years old, he and his family and friends have yet to deal with an enduring past that has kept him silent for ten years. Being confined in his room, he begins to talk to his twin brother, Jamie, which seems like he is the only one Gibson talks to for ten years.

His mother also seems to have been hurt by this past, yet his entire family has tried best to keep everything together.

Gibson has been able to escape this estranged feeling with his family by being introduced by his closest friend Teddy to the local art and music scene. He is also introduced to a pixie-sized femme named Enid who is interested in his “mysterious” silence which paves way for her to try and forget an ex-boyfriend.

Through music, photographs, vintage records and unsaid words, the two begin to develop an unfleeting relationship towards each other. Without fully divulging the nature of the Bonifacio family’s story, the film sends us back to that past that has changed all of their lives entirely through excellent use of camera moves and takes.

The soundtrack helps as well. It actually seemed to have made a huge impact on the film because, well, not to spoil it this much, but the characters were somewhat related to music or closely related to music. Not only did they have the best local bands to help out (Itchyworms, Cambio, Sandwich, The Strangeness, Ang Bandang Shirley, Hannah + Gabi to name a few), the use of vintage OPM sounds. (I will edit this post once I get a DVD copy of the film. I was so enthused when they played these on the film.) One thing to note and to have you look forward to are a few Eraserheads songs that were TIMELY(yes, I mean it) featured in the film. Another thing to note of are the vintage and modern cameras that cameo’d in the film.

The elemental kilig of making first love a memorable experience was effectively captured on film. The film may be a bit on the verge of being too young, and too thesis-like. Which isn’t bad for a first featured full length film for people who cherish music in this way. But it’s the kind of thesis film that you would want to watch all over again just because of it’s eye-candiness. There is however something missing in it’s story entirely.  On both the family and the romance side of the film.

Starring Dominic Rocco as Gibson, his twin brother in real life Felix Rocco as his twin brother Jamie, the lovely Dawn Zulueta in her first indie film as their mother, Apo Hiking Society’s Buboy Garovillo as their father, and Annicka Dolonius as the wittingly sexy Enid.

A film about family, first love, getting lost in a trance of wonderful music, and a clear visual of Edsa at night and during Christmas, the young music-lover in us has a voice in this film. I would watch it again, give it a rate of 3.6/5, and keep it in my book of Great Soundtrack films. Catch this soon on dvd, or for local screenings, visit it’s website at

A Very, Very Long Post (A Late Contribution to the Late Tioseco’s Wishful Thinking for Philippine Cinema) Part 1

7 September 2011

I wish more non-filmmakers from the Philippines would get to travel to festivals.

And in this time when pinoy indie films were filled mostly with gay (almost on the brink of pornography) films, it’s still refreshing to find more and more filmmakers who not only produce and create films that visualize the human sensuality but also several works that depict the human condition.

It is not a secret that most mainstream filipino films are mostly comedies. You can’t really blame Mother Lily or Star Cinema for that. They seem to have this idea in their mind that Filipinos love a good laugh. What they don’t seem to realize is that this repetitive formula has left most moviegoers from inside the cinemas to purchasing ten pesos worth of its bootlegged version (yes, in the infamous Quiapo Cinematheque mostly and/or at the local bangketa) because after all, once you begin the summary of it’s plot as something that goes like “..Boy meets Girl in this place. They play coy at one another by playing hard to get. Another event leads them to meet each other again.. They fall in love, turns out a huge unrelenting twist is placed, thus depicting The Climactic point, they regain their love and voila! they end up marrying each other.. or they end up tragically apart due to another twist that will only leave the audience overly confused and insulted because they spent an hour and forty-five minutes of nothing but cheesiness and desperation to sell actors.”

I regret to say that I used to be a part of the 75% who hates watching even mainstream pinoy movies in a theatre. When I was even younger I pictured myself to be a female version of Quentin Tarantino (during his younger, hair-filled days) who spends most of the earnings just to watch films. The first filipino film I saw in a theatre was the 1999 film Pepeng Agimat. At nine years old, I remember hating the effects (“it’s trying hard to feel like a hollywood blockbuster film!”), hating the way the cinematographer loves the dark too much that the fight scenes seemed like boys playing around in costumes. Since then I just hated the experience and felt that filipino films would be just like that: a plot that’s got repetitive formula, uncanny twists, and very predictable acting and script. I know, it’s hard to make a film. But wouldn’t it be worth it if you’re making something sensible for the masses?

And so here I am, Princess Kinoc, a non-filmmaker, couch potato, cinema lover, and well, author of this blog about anything under the tree is so glad to have finally experienced a film festival that fits my busy work schedule. As a first time attendee to the Cinemalaya, a Philippine [independent] film festival, I was able to get to know this other side of the world where I feel that I belong. Several other cinephiles have come together to watch, criticize, be amazed at this year’s latest contributions to the Philippine Cinema by the country’s best, most courageous directors, writers and producers.

I saw this film by myself..

#368: San Lazaro (6 August 2011) was one of the first NETPAC entries I’ve ever seen in the UPFI that was included as a NetPac selection for Cinemalaya 2011. Being familiar with the names Wincy Aquino Ong (he’s in a band called Us-Two-Evil-O) who directed and co-starred the film, and Ramon Bautista (internet superstarrrr, he frequents music videos by Radio Active Sago Project and one very funny video from Tuesday Vargas), I was interested to find out what the film was about. THE RESULT is a horror film that slips away from norm. It’s funny and scary at the same time, but although it’s not the type that would leave you shaking in the night, it’s a story that would leave you thinking and laughing for days. The special effects are actually good, like the cringing worms in Bubuy’s cheeks and the bathtub scene (well I guess that scene was perfectly orchestrated by the actor Nicco Manalo) was just genius. People who saw this as well at the University of the Philippines’ Film Institute kept saying that it was like a Film Student’s thesis project. I didn’t exactly felt that but maybe it depends with your perspective of a film student’s work. Mine’s one that was shot using a very old digital camera shooting most of the scenes in the woods and then gets lost and dies along the way until a group of campers picks up his camera and releases it to a local  blockbuster producer.

I was not disappointed with this film. The characters are well created, the script is very rich with geek paraphernalia, the cameos are well crafted as well. I enjoyed Eli Buendia’s take on an investigator filled with doubts, Bianca King apparently is a good actress as she plays Cheska, the girl with the split persona. All the other cameos include Kean Cipriano who plays a cocky gym instructor who I still think should act and never come back to singing. The film has heart, cares for its viewers by rocking us back and forth from reality to the past, even while one of its main characters is suffocating from a choke. If you’re interested in watching a horror flick that’s purely pinoy and original, you better get your hands on a copy of this film.

#367: Busong (Palawan Fate) is another one that I’ve seen before San Lazaro. Amazed by the beauty of the film and it’s depth that had taken me a while to understand, I am just proud that it won the  FIPRESCI prize at the Eurasia Film Festival. This award was the same prize that the film Purple Rose of Cairo won back in 1985.

#344: Patayin sa Shokot Si Remington (Sep 4) is another NetPac film that everyone seems to have been waiting for (me included). Written by Raymond Lee (All My Life, Milan..), It’s continuous commercialized trailers, bus posters and movie posters makes me feel excited to see an indie film being shared to everyone of every age and “cinematic understanding”. I’ve laughed out loud and kept mindful of every gay lingo muttered in this film. This film’s got heart and it is mindful of it’s audiences. Although in the end it did have that formulaic twist, it was in a way a better ending than just to leave everyone in the cast swamped by gay zombies. The best part was to have to sit through the premier seating of an SM Cinema, although it was a Saturday and only the premier seats were filled, to laugh along with the audience that wasn’t filled with film enthusiast or directors but normal people who came there to get a good movie experience. It’s main cast Martin Escudero who plays Remington, a young man who was cursed by a grieving gay (played by icon Roderick Paulate) when he was young for mocking almost every gay in their town. I had no idea he could act that well. He was just so convincing with the part. Same goes to his co-stars Lauren Young and Kerbie Zamora. Lauren, who does all the crying in an afternoon drama plays the role of Remington’s love interest amazingly speaks in straight tagalog and is just as confused as Remington about how she feels about him. Kerbie on the other hand plays the tall, dark, and handsomely charming bestfriend of Remington.

I also loved John Regala’s performance. His inclusion in the twist is a bit predictable but the outcome is just superb. Zombadings I is not only a testament that small productions can carry itself just as well as long as it’s got a story that’s true and original, but it’s also a testament that people don’t want to sit through the same thing all over and over again.

For Alexis Tioseco’s Wishful Thinking for Philippine Cinema, click here

#367: Busong (Palawan Fate)

3 August 2011
Where do I start explaining how it felt like watching this Cinemalaya 2011 entry by Aurelius Solito? Well the film starts off in a freshing by the beach view of Palawan as two half naked locals carrying a woman in a duyan on a stick (its literal english translation is swaying bed..on a stick). But I guess we should move a little backwards, ten minutes before the film starts wherein the announcer asks the film’s director and screenplaywright Aurelius Solito to introduce his film. I’m not familiar of his films except that I’ve seen his name mentioned before in Cinephiles. My friend Chris tells me that his credits include several gay films and some other entries in Cinemalaya which includes his most famous work, Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros). As it turns out, Solito’s film was featured in the Cannes 2011 Directors’… As he spoke, he introduced the film as a collection of folk tales he learned from his mother about Palawan. He says he stayed in Palawan for about 5 years hence the translation of the film means Palawan Fate. He even thanked his literary teachers in UP as well as his film teachers, one of his main star Alessandra de Rossi whom he says would be one of the most efficient actors he would like to work with after this film. I looked forward to the promise of a touching, eloquently made story. What I completely felt about the film I would express in a couple more paragraphs..
And so the movie is a collection of three folklores in Palawan. Story 1 is about a man named Tony who works as a lumberjack (magtotroso) who also promises to his wife, Ninita that he will never cut the sacred Amugis tree for as long as they will live. Apparently he dies after cutting one. But an evening before that incident, Tony also promises Ninita that he will metaphorically give her fire that doesn’t leave a mark and dies but one that will blaze forever. So, with the faith that the local Shaman might still be able to bring back her husband back to life, they attempt to relive Tony’s dying body but it’s already too late.
Story number 2 is about a father, a son and the secret name of the stonefish. It shows us how we must respect all kinds of creatures, which is mostly why our parents (I don’t know about yours but mine tell me lots of stories such as this) tell us fables to mainly point out the moral of it. Story number 2 is mainly my favorite because for some reason, the scenes in this film keep jumping out like a jack in a box that I really, really do not want to open. But story number 2 is fluid and subtle, the way good stories are supposed to be told. Plus, the color of the actors skin match perfectly in the bright, sandy tones of the place. The dialogue is even better. There is a part wherein the American who “privately” owns the island played by Chris Haywood bickers at the father and tells him to read the document showing that dynamite fishing is not allowed in “his” land. Perhaps father’s role doesn’t allow him to read, and so Haywood’s character laughs at father and tells him “You are indeed a Palawan.” Almost saying “you know nothing.” But father fights back and says “Oo! Tama, isa nga akong Palawan. Bago pa ipinangalan ang islang ito na Palawan, ako, ang mga magulang ko, at ang mga ninuno ko ay tinawag nang Palawan!” (“Of course! That’s correct. I am a Palawan. Even before this land was named Palawan, me, my parents and my ancestors were already Palawans!”)
Story 3 is about the siblings played by Alessandra de Rossi and Clifford Banagale and a guy who’s character’s name is Aris. Aris who currently lives in Manila is anxious to go back to his hometown. He meets his old friend and thinks that the boy he’s with is his friend’s son who was named after him. He’s surprised to find out that his friend’s wife and son died years before. The part where he begins to talk to the siblings is something that I was unable to follow, and I bet you I haven’t left my seat since the movie started because I wanted so much to have the jumping scenes end. Anyway, Aris told them, like most of the people in the film tell them that the two should visit the local shaman to have Alessandra’s wounds be cured. In the end, he expresses that he wants to be a shaman as well and with the help of the dead shaman’s spirit he cures Alessandra’s wounds.
There are several techniques used in the film to depict some sort of meta message that would apply in real life. The camera angles to show the beauty and secrets of the place were sufficient however what I don’t like about this film was how some non-dialogue shots just seemed hanging. This film looks like it’s made for people with massive creative thoughts but the scenes and the lines didn’t seem enough to evoke anything usefully creative in me. What I mostly thought was that maybe this film could get better. Maybe, just maybe..
Just to redeem this film, it’s not at all a bad film. Although I remained indifferent up until two days ago while I was writing a very lengthy review about this film, I understand the use of flashback to tell the stories. Metaphors are very evident even in the most little details. But the more I thought about the film, the more I thought I kinda like it. The use of the local dialect was just perfect.
I’ve seen two films in this year’s Cinemalaya, and I’m hoping this one’s not the only film that I can call as the best.

#458 Taksikab

April 3, 2011

I have a lot of gay friends. And it was bad that I was not able to bring them with me upon watching this film.

Starring numerous upcoming indie artists, including this guy mentioned in the photo, Taksikab is a movie that I cannot only stress as a gay movie. But one can classify it as a gay movie. I did not feel aroused in anyway, but I did feel guilty for not tagging along some of my other gay friends, that way I might’ve at least enjoyed the movie.

But to classify it as a pristine indie film, or a classic to my future children —- it would be hard to at least remember it as a good indie film. I didn’t like this film not because I hate LGBT films. I just felt that there were too many characters to even focus on, and the complexity of the plot didn’t match up to what I was expecting.

Just to remind myself though, I did like one part of the film. This guy’s role:

And because he’s Jinggoy Ejercito’s nephew, I guess part of his contract was to not show half of his body, except for his butt cheeks. And to refuse anal sex for his character’s role. Although I did like the part, somehow because it wasn’t at all to gruesome for my senses, because I could feel the awkwardness in his acting, it didn’t quite own up to the strength of his co-actor in the scene thus it left me feeling uncomfortable for him like I was wanting him to just get out of there. But at least for a first timer he had this film under his belt.

If one would ask me if I’d watch this again? Sure I would. But maybe with someone so I wouldn’t feel very much uncomfortable as I felt now.