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
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.