Guns and gold

oro

I AM trying very hard to not want to tune in, however possible, to the announcement of the Metro Manila Film Festival 2016 winners, ongoing as I write this, at the Gabi ng Parangal.

It’s important for me to be able to say before the list is out that “Oro,” by filmmaker Alvin Yapan, deserves serious notice for raising serious issues in a seriously gripping way. I can’t tell if I was riveted because it was based on true and quite horrific events or because, if appreciation of a cinematic work was a matter of taste, dependable organic ingredients had gone into this recipe.

Why is it important? Because I’d rue any intrusion into my initial impressions of it. In a manner of speaking, it had me at “Hello.” Pristine white sand, incredibly blue sea and sky, enthralling greenery, uncomplicated human beings.

Then evil descends on the island and… please just go and watch. It’s really the only way to appreciate the feeling of panic, and then crippling dread, slowly creeping in and staying till the last few seconds, deftly stirred with dollops of rage and frustration.

Sounds eerily familiar, though served with poetic prose, characteristically Yapan. “Bakit laging may baril kung saan may ginto?” Why, indeed, should there always be guns where there is gold? (Okay, some lines of dialogue are repetitive; I still wonder why that is.)

Aside from these top-of-my-head notes, I told a few friends about some very capable work by the main actors, especially Irma Adlawan as “Kapitana,” evocative of the quintessential Filipino chieftain. I pray she wins a trophy tonight.

According to early reports, Yapan had grave second thoughts about accepting this project. We are all the better for his decision. Maybe “Oro” could help turn around the conditions depicted here. Maybe not. At least Yapan got the story to the “maybe” border, miles from “buried and forgotten.”

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