Sunday, 22 July 2012

Babae sa Breakwater (Woman of Breakwater) 2003

I was fortunate enough to attend the opening night of Cinemalaya where they screened Babae sa Breakwater as a tribute for the late Director Mario O'Hara.

I've heard of the movie countless of times but hadn't shown much interest. I was 13 when the movie came out and it's definitely something that would interest me. I have heard praises about the movie but had deemed the movie as something not for kids, if you know what I mean. I also didn't see it as an indie film since I'm pretty sure it was shown in a lot of theaters. But then again, I don't really have a clear grasp on what makes a movie indie.

After viewing the movie last friday, I realized that I had a completely wrong impression of the movie. It's not a "bold" film like what my 13-year-old self thought. It illustrates the depressing lives of Filipinos living in poverty, in the streets of Manila, in the breakwater along Roxas Boulevard.

The movie is about the brothers Basilio (Kristoffer King) and Buboy who are from Leyte but are forced to live in the slums of Manila. As they make themselves at home, living in a community along Roxas Boulevard, they meet Pakita (Katherine Luna), a prostitute.

Despite all the humor peppered all throughout the movie, Babae sa Breakwater is a haunting film that reflects the everyday trials of the Filipino poor. What makes this movie so haunting is the fact that no matter how unbelievable or far-fetched some difficulties the characters encounter, they are the kind of things you know happen in real life. The horrors of poverty are sometimes worse than the ones in the movies.

I think this is something people who aren't aware of the situation in the Philippines would realize. There are some things in the movie that would be difficult to grasp outside the Filipino context, such as the kulto acts at the start of the movie. The movie is grounded on the reality of Filipino lives that it's chilling how the story unfolds. Countless of misfortunes happen to the characters and the viewers may start to think that that many unfortunate events can't be happening in real life. Then you remember the things you hear in the news and remember the statistics, and you realize that it might actually be possible. One misfortune after another hits Basilio and Buboy but they shoulder on. Always.

What I love about the movie is the characters' ability to look up when everything is going downhill. This shows Filipinos' resilience in the faces of difficulties. Basilio and Buboy may be swimming in a sea of garbage but as long as they have each other and they have something to eat, as little as it may be, they still have the heart and the energy to smile and laugh and be thankful.

I am not quite sure whether the movie is aptly titled, though. Pakita plays a huge part in the film but I somehow feels like the story really focuses more on Basilio. Then again, Pakita somehow influences most of Basilio's decisions in the film.

I don't really have any qualms about the movie except this one scene that will definitely spoil it for those who haven't watched it yet. Hee. I won't even get into the technicalities of the movie as I am no expert in that field.

I don't think I'll watch this movie again for the very simple reason that it's just too heart-breaking for me. I'm not the type of person who likes to torture herself. But I'm pretty sure it will be watched for generations to come. A gem like this is just too difficult to forget.

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