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

#352: Crazy, Stupid, Love

20 August 2011

As I’ve promised myself when I saw the [short] sneak peak of this film on HBO’s Movie review stint, I am very much happy to say that I have just seen this film.

I haven’t had enough sleep to stretch the nerves of my brain on a smart film. And lately, I have been feeling a bit depressed to either talk to myself or listen to any advise anyone can give about anything. So, I settled to watch (and pay..) for something whose plot I read at the movie board and summary I’ve seen in HBO to be just simple and charming.
Crazy, Stupid, Love is a film that I would agree to be refreshing, irrational, cute, funny, a bit witty, and would most likely be a favorite among the popular kids these days. It’s film begins with Julianne Moore and Steve Carrell as Emily and Cal Weaver sitting in restaurant deciding what to eat until one of them breaks the ice and asks for a divorce. The person whose heart had just been torn to pieces and perhaps might spend the week with his kids during weekends would have to be Steve Carrell. Soon after his wife announces she wants to split, he tries to regain himself by leaving the house at night and talk to himself at a bar. He wallows as he imagines and constantly repeats to himself that his wife had just screwed David Lindhagen, her co-worker.

Ryan Gosling’s character Jacob notices Cal and immediately becomes his life guru. He teaches Steve to get up on his Salvatorre Ferragamo shoes and date women so he can move on with his life and on his ex-wife.  Another story builds up a couple of nights before when Jacob sees Hannah (played by Emma Stone) at that same bar. He tries to play the game on her but she seems smart enough to fall for his tricks, and also since she’s in love with a co-lawyer played by Josh Groban. Since he can’t figure out why she seems so different than all the women he’s met, she becomes his impression of a dream girl.
Meanwhile, newcomer actress and former America’s Next Top Model contestant Analeigh Tipton who plays as the babysitter Jessica for the Weaver’s. Apparently, Steve and Julianne’s son is in love with her and constantly bothers her either at school or at home by constantly professing his love for her while admitting to him that she’s in love with someone older and mature.
Anyway, before I’m about to spoil you with everything, I’m gonna stop right here. What I like most about this film is that it consistently brings that fresh perspective on a romantic film. Directed by Glenn Ficara and John Requa (both responsible for I Love You Phillip Morris)and written by Dan Fogelman (responsible for Cars and Tangled). Although Steve Carell and Julianne Moore didn’t exactly seem like the perfect team up, they were alright to represent the roles they were provided with. Steve Carell’s acting makes it a lot more funnier with drama and depression mixed in his face. I should credit Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as well for playing their characters so well that at the back of my mind I couldn’t help but get giggly with it.
I had a couple of laughs while watching this film. Mushy parts are to be expected of course. It kind of reminds me of the pinoy film Got to Believe and it feels like a mash-up as well between that film, Valentine’s Day and any John Hughes film without trying to be John Hughes. I tell you you must watch this film. And bring your parents, too.

#430: Waiting on Forever

3 May 2011

I simply wanted to watch this film because of it’s poster.

Anyway, this film stars Rachel Bilson, newcomer Tom Sturridge, Jamie King, Matthew Davis, Scott Mechlowicz, Richard Jenkins and Blythe Danner. Directed by James Keach, this romantic drama is about a jobless juggler named Will Donner who follows his childhood sweetheart Emma Twist from California to her home in Pittsburgh. Emma goes home to be with her dying father (Jenkins) and her mother (Danner, yes she’s Gwyneth Palthrow’s mom, children.) and to leave her complicated life and failing career as an actress.

Her boyfriend Aaron follows her home to confess about her infidelity to her father. Meanwhile, Emma spends the whole day with Will and reminisces the days when they were both young and admits about the status of her relationship with Aaron. Later she finds out that Will has been following her all the way from California and asks him to promise not to follow her ever again. Will painstakingly keeps his promise and leaves town.

After a couple of minutes of watching Will drift into tears and memories of the past, we are sent into a version of why Aaron, Emma’s boyfriend, had to follow her back to her home. As it turns out, upon confronting the guy Emma had allegedly slept with, Aaron bursts out into anger and kills the guy. Afterwards, Emma knocks on his door and ask for his forgiveness. She also mentions about Will following her around town. Aaron asks for his name and later on uses this to put all the blame on killing the alleged “other guy” to Will.

After Will gets bailed out and disappears fully out of Emma’s sight, a series of unfortunate things happen around Aaron and at the same time Emma’s father dies, too. Emma realizes that Will is someone of whom she’s truly worth having and the wait doesn’t seem to be forever after all.

Newcomer Tom Sturridge plays the squinty-eyed romantic Will Donner who for some weird reason doesn’t fail to play the role of the stupid and naive yet he can still look like he can kill you in a second. Rachel Bilson seems like she’s still portraying Rachel Bilson, effortless and still in a very The O.C kinda way (the show, not the disorder). Although you can’t blame her, ’cause her role is quite minimalist, it’s just that there’s always some other character who fills in the way she delivers, in this case it’s just Sturridge’s.

Richard Jenkins plays the father, who convincingly sounds courages to the fact that his character will die soon as the film progresses. My favorite part would have to be the bathtub scene, wherein he finally unleashes the real side to his wife, played by Blythe Danner about her attitude towards her husband’s situation.

This movie has a lot to work out on but since it’s already out there I guess there’s nothing else that we can do but watch it. If only it weren’t for the big heart on the movie poster, I wouldn’t be interested in this. However, there were parts that I did like, most parts were okay, most parts were just incredulous to begin with. The part wherein Will’s brother, played by Scott Mechlowicz bails Will out of jail and talks to him at the back of the car is reminiscent of Elia Kazan’s On The Waterfront and the infamous “I coulda been a contender Charlie, I coulda been a contender” scene. It fails to deliver the same strength though, as the movie yet again drifts to another conflict.

All in all, I can suggest this movie to those who’re into seeing boys pour out themselves over and over again.

TFMC #493: Love, Actually

I didn’t post this just now because I’m bitter and single. Well, just ignore what I said as well if that wasn’t what you were thinking. But anyway, since I got laid back from posting accurately due to some duties that I had to do, I can assure you though that I have not stopped watching movies. Hence, with or without a date, I watched one of the most romantic movies in whole universe.

#493: Love, Actually (Feb. 14, 2011)

Written and directed by Richard Curtis. Starring a cast of British and American actors including Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Bill Nighy, Keira Knightly, Martine McCutcheon, Hugh Grant, Kris Marshall, Heike Makatsch, Martin Freeman, Chiwetel Eijofor, Andrew Lincoln, and the super hotness Rodrigo Santino. I’ve seen this a lot of times already but since my dvd only reads original discs and divx, I picked this for my valentine movie instead.

And yes, this blog was supposedly done on Monday but like I keep mentioning to you (whoever you are out there) I’m a busy person.

Anyways, Love, Actually is a great film to watch fresh. When I say fresh, I mean it like how we filipinos like eating our pandesals: hot and freshly served with butter or any other palamans you could think of stuffing into a pandesal. Never google it nor check it out on wikipedia or at for it’s summary. And for the sake of this statement, I am not going to give you a summary of this film.

Sundays On HBO

Feb. 14, 2011 at 12:51 AM. Late posting due to some laundry duties ^^

I just hung around the house last sunday and since my dvd player is still not cooperating much with all the Criterion collection dvds that we currently have unwatched, I resorted to my first love: television.

By the way, I spoke with fellow cinephile, film auditoire Adrian Mendizabal and he and I are collaborating on the 500 Movie Challenge. Since I already started, he and another cinephile friend of ours will begin tonight. I’ll be posting the revisions later..

Meanwhile… Since I did spend my sunday night (and valentines day) watching cable tv, here are three movies I saw over the weekend via HBO.

#496: Mona Lisa Smile (February 13, 2011)

 I initially drafted a huge paragraph about how I first saw this movie in HBO and how I loved the costumes and the characters but then again, as I look back to it now at this very minute, I feel like I’m lying to myself.

This movie is obviously not about the famous painting whose smile still remains a huge mystery to almost everybody. Although at some point in the movie they made a reference of this painting since the main character played by Julia Roberts is an art professor at Wellesley College, an all girls university in the 1950s. If you’ve listened carefully to your history professor, you might be aware that back in the fifties, women were only allowed to do several purposes and duties. Watch this film to know what those are and get back to me to see if it fits your description of the world in the 1950s. What I didn’t like about watching this though was the amount of characters my eyes could follow, and I remember thinking how much I didn’t like Maggie Gyllenhall when I first saw this movie.. I like her now though.

Anyway, this movie is a goody good movie. For art lovers as well as writers who are currently under writer’s block and wants to be better than Kirsten Dunst’s role.

#494: Hachiko


I’m in the search for Akita dogs because of this movie. All I ever said while watching this was one big “Awwww.. such a cutie!” to the point that I realized all I ever said was that. And of course, I cried during the part when his master played by a handsome Richard Gere died and Hachi just kept coming back to the train station, hoping that his master will come back. It’s a nice film, simple and tons of emotions.

# 494: It’s Complicated

 I never expected to like this film. When I say like, I mean it in a sincere manner. I didn’t like the trailer but I was quite amused and satisfied to it’s story. About divorcees with benefits. It stars Alec Baldwin, Meryl Streep, and Steve Martin who amazingly was not the main comic in this movie. Also stars John Krasinsky, Lake Bell, Mary Kay Place, Rita Wilson and a lot of Meryl Streep’s cooking.


Movie # 499 Part Two.. and Introducing Mr. Nobody

Father of the Bride II (Feb. 10 and not Feb 9)

I’ve seen this lot’s of times on cable and yet I have not started it nor finished it. It stars Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, and Kimberly Williams-Paisley. According to wikipedia, and as fas as I know it’s the sequel to Father of The Bride and a remake and a sequel to the 1951 film (staring Elizabeth Taylor) Father’s Little Dividend.  In FOTB2, George Banks comically accepts the reality that his daughter (whom got married in the first film) ascends from womanhood to motherhood. It’s a film that won’t fail to make you laugh your childish heart out.

#498 Mr. Nobody (Feb. 11, 2011)

***MY OFFICIAL entry to Sandra Knox A. Balbastro’s invitation on facebook (Watch a Challenging Film today @ 12PM).

Mr.Nobody is a 2009 belgian science fiction flick which stars Jared Leto.

NEMO Nobody lives an ordinary life alongside his wife Elise (played by Sarah Polley) and their 3 kids until one day he wakes up in the year 2092. He is then at 118 years old, and both the oldest and the only living mortal since everyone doesn’t die anymore and sex is considered to be an obscenity. That fact doesn’t concern him though. The questions he has for himself is whether or not he lived the life he should have lived, he loved the woman he should have loved, have been the father to the right children, and chose the right decisions in his life.

He recounts his life to a reporter played by Daniel Mays. He tells him how he was as a cherubim being picked out by angels to be his parents’ only born child, how his parents met (in an explicable camera angle inclusive of Buddy Holly and The Cricket’s Everyday as the background theme), how their marriage was torn appart and how he had to chose between the life that will unfold once he picked out which parent he’d chose to live with.

As strange and unusual as his story telling, Mr. Nobody tells two different version of his teenage life, one while living with his mother, one while living with his father. Written and directed by Jaco Van Dormael, also stars Diane Kruger, Sarah Polley, Linh Dan Pham, Rhys Ifans (as his father) and Natalie Little (as his mother). This movie will make you wonder and often times will make you want to curse the writer for making the plot so confusing at times but the ending answers almost—- everything. Just make sure not to leave your seat for you not to miss out on every detail of this movie(isn’t that what you’re supposed to do for every movie you watch? well, except for Valentine’s day I guess.You can leave anytime you want and won’t miss a thing.. :P).  Jared Leto gave yet another incredible performance both as an old man, as a husband to a borderline-disorder wife in one reality and to a loveless asian wife. I was just wondering though why on earth doesn’t he have a british accent? Same with Diane Kruger (who seems like at some point in time she’s gonna blurt out something in german) who plays Anna whose younger counterpart is played by british actress Juno Temple (whom yet again does a good job in being! ).

I’ll try and watch this again tonight. :)

I Wante Youw Soo Bad Itz Driveng Me Madd

In this vast changing world of the techy and the gadgety, I find myself caught in between dimensions of the new and the old world. I love old movies, as well as those 3D movies they all have now. I still find it amazing when a photographer takes snapshots using analog cameras. And better yet, I still find writing my stories in my old school notebooks (or on sheets and sheets of pad paper) much relaxing that typing it into this computer.

But I’m not one to differ from my generation, I do have social network sites and I was amazed at how communication was stretched out and made easy through these sites. I’ve had friendster, multiply, myspace, yahoo messenger, twitter, and of course, I’m also on Facebook.

I’ve just canceled my Friendster due to some unnecessary message I got from someone I used to pretend I like. I’ve added friends, knew bands through these sites, and the best and worst of the part of getting to stay connected with almost everyone you’ve met in you’re life is the fact that you can stay connected with the ones you couldn’t find in the streets.

That one person that got away.

When I was younger, he read my very first blog. He wasn’t that dumb enough not to figure out that it was about him. But as soon as the time came, and he had to go away, and I had to let him get away, I removed him from my list of friends with the hopes of finally moving forward with my real life and with my unrealistic life.

When I got into Facebook, I was glad that he wasn’t there either. A year and a half months after, I was shocked to find his glowing face on the side of the screen, under the “people you may know” section. I thought about how I was already over him and I added him, just like old friends. But the thing with people in your life that you wish didn’t get away is that when they somehow get back in your life, and you just can’t help but get them back. And to my recovering state, I found that theory a threat. I did what I try to do best and removed him from my circle of growing Facebook friends.

But I added him up again just a few months ago.  And then, a couple of weeks after, I saw him on a Tagged Photo trend, clicked on his photo and saw the closely related reaction…

We’re no longer friends, even in the cyberworld.

I know, I know. It’s ridiculous to even tread on this path again. But the thing is I feel like the joke was kinda returned back on me, y’know. I felt weird. I felt like he really hated me not only in person but in any other worlds..

Then again, I guess we were never friends to begin with anyway. We weren’t even lovers. Nothing. Blanko. Zero. Nil.