MMFF: Before and Now

For the past few years, I’ve watched a movie or two during the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF). I guess it’s my minute contribution to the Philippine industry. For those who do not know, the Philippines has a 10-day run of MMFF where only Filipino movies are shown across the country. That means that all foreign movies being shown during the holiday period get pushed to January to give way to MMFF.

I tried to retrace those movies and here’s what I have so far and I can’t believe I’ve watched so much already for the past 10 years.

1998: Jose Rizal
1999: Bulaklak ng Maynila
2000: Tanging Yaman, Markova
2001: Hubog, Bagon Buwan, Yamashita: A Tiger’s Treasure
2002: Dekada 70, Mano Po
2003: Crying Ladies, Mano Po 2
2004: So Happy Together, Sigaw
2005: Ako Legal Wife
2006: Kasal Kasali Kasalo
2007: Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo
2008: Baler

The last one to join the list of MMFF movies I’ve watched in the cinema was Meily’s Baler. The love story was based on the historical events in Baler that lasted for almost 1 year where a group of Spanish soldiers were cornered in the church of San Luis de Tolosa by the Philippine rebellion. Working on that very extraordinary circumstance, a Romeo-Juliet love story emerged between a Filipina whose father is one of the heads of the rebels and a Spanish mestizo soldier, one of the Los últimos de Filipinas.

What worked for me in the movie is the story and its development. I think they successfully mirrored that particular historical time and framed that properly to induce the love story of Feliza and Celso. True to Meily’s usual flair of showing beautiful imagery in fim, we see a lot of picturesque shots of beautiful Baler and very tasteful and warm colors of the scenes. On the flip side, I still think Anne Curtis and Jericho Rosales were miscasts since Anne looks like a mestiza and Jericho really looks like a local Filipino. Philip Salvador’s performance was a standout and I think that he’s gotten a very good comeback movie role – memorable.

Tagged as having a 60M budget, some production design elements for me were still sub-standard. The exterior of the church seem to be make of plaster and there were some misplaced things going on that does not agree with the continuity of the story. Overall, I think the movie worked for me and I still enjoy the experience of watching the true love story unfold.

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4 Replies to “MMFF: Before and Now”

  1. HARYUSERYOUS!? I thought it was the worst piece of trash I’ve ever seen. Philip Salvador was indeed good though so was that one scene where they met in the middle of the battle field for the truce thing. But aside from those it was really sooo bad. There was no theme, no one running idea. You can depict a historical film like that without making it seem pointless. :s They could’ve included more facts etc. it was just bad. One story of shake, rattle and roll was more interesting than the whole concept of this movie. :-p

    1. Well, it is a love story in a historical event. Pretty much like what happened in Titanic, but of course we do not have that budget so we do not have a real ship created, and we just have to settle with a makeshift church.

      They have included a lot of facts. The key characters are the same from the Spanish regime to the Filipino rebellion. I love history and I was amazed how much the movie took up from the history books. Made me read more about the Siege of Baler.

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