Verdict: Essential Viewing

Pinoy Rebyu Score: 4.00 (9 ratings)

Genre: Documentary

Director: Jay Abello

Writers: Jet Orbida, Checcs Osmeña

Synopsis: At the turn of the 20th century, Negrense “hacienderos” (sugarcane land owners) were the richest and their farm workers the highest paid in the country. But in a span of a century, the Negros sugar industry plunged from its proverbial pedestal into its inglorious present state.

Why is the industry in peril? Is it, indeed, a flailing sunset industry?

Filmmaker Jay Abello, a former sugarcane farm manager, offers a glimpse of the island’s turbulent history through dramatic and controversial video: lavish parties of Negros sugar barons, candid interviews with hacienderos, never before seen footage of Negros Island…and more.

Trailer: 

Reviews:

5.0       Lyndon Maburaot (Table Stretcher)

“It is a well-researched run-through to imminent demise of an industry monopolized by few who were in turn one-upped by the late dictator.” (Read full comment)

5.0      Nico Quejano (Cinephiles)

“May be the best film I have seen so far in Cinemalaya. Informative. Exhaustive but engaging. Entertaining but interesting. The story is familiar to me, growing up in Quezon. Must-See.”

4.5       Richard Bolisay (Lilok Pelikula)

Pureza is driven by Abello’s resolute desire to answer a simple question, but along the way it unearths tragedies of the worst kind, a pile of incongruities in the sociopolitical topography of the country eaten by neoliberal trade and neocolonialism, a grave national problem being neglected ever since.” (Read full review)

4.0       Ma. Isabel Ongpin (The Manila Times)

“It is well-done, well written and well-planned, beautifully photographed with an extensive spectrum of subjects and interviews put in focus the search for Truth and hopefully, solutions.” (Read full review)

4.0       Mikhail Lecaros (GMA News Online)

“Given the multifaceted nature of the subject matter and Abello’s disclaimer that Pureza is his personal take on it, the fact that he and his team were able—for the most part—to maintain an even-handed approach to the material is not only commendable, it’s outright remarkable.” (Read full review)

4.0       Skilty Labastilla (Young Critics Circle)

“Director Jay Abello fully utilizes his unique position as a former sugarcane farm manager to examine the place of the sugar industry in Philippine economy, leaving virtually no stone unturned in seeking the opinions of hacienderos, sacadas, and experts on the sugar industry.

The commitment to rigorous research is commendable, though I would’ve wanted to hear more of Abello’s stand on the issue. He could have synthesized the views of his interviewees and reflected on how he can do his part to deal with the problem rather than letting all of them talk for the most part and ultimately leaving the audience with a vague idea on how to proceed. Still, essential viewing.

4.0       Carl Joseph Papa (Whatever, Carl)

“A very enlightening and educational and somewhat depressing look at the sugar industry of the Philippines.” (Read full comment)

3.5       Oggs Cruz (Twitch)

Pureza: The Story of Negros Sugar avoids the pitfalls of being too localized and too inert to be of interest to the casual moviegoer by its earnestness, by the skillfulness in which Abello shapes his arguments, by the sporadic instances when the experiences of the Negros sugar industry evolves into a universal instigation of the caprices of government, the imperfection of economics, and the shallowness of humanity.” (Read full review)

2.0       Tessa Maria Guazon (Young Critics Circle)

“Despite many interesting studies of the relations between sugar production and the building of empire, it fails to foreground the complex position sugar now occupies in global and neoliberal trade.” (Read full review)