The best local film scenes of 2018

Warning: The notes from the filmmakers and reviewers include details of important scenes in the cited movies. Read at your own risk.

Scene of the year: The ending (Never Not Love You)

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Json Javier, The Spotless Mind: “In 2018, Antoinette Jadaone declared to the entire country that she had the biggest balls in Philippine showbiz. In an industry where film endings were usually dictated by commercial appeal (read: give fans the happy ending that they deserve!), she made the brave choice of not providing a clear resolution to the (rekindling or doomed?) relationship of lovers Gio and Joanne (James Reid and Nadine Lustre, giving their career-best performances) in Never Not Love You. As writer and director, Jadaone (intentionally?) pushed through with this creative decision even after all the controversies that notoriously plagued the production.

Open endings in romance films weren’t really novel (which merited a few comparisons to Like Crazy), but it is definitely rare for a Pinoy movie especially since it stars one of the hottest love teams (backed by a huge and rabid fan base).

In the film’s memorable final scene inside Joanne’s car, the couple exchange a few words after seeing each other again, but mostly remain silent. Their faces are a mix of emotions (excitement? relief? sadness? optimism?) left to be interpreted by the viewing public. Some perceive it as a hopeful ending where the couple is ready to accept their faults and differences and face new challenges together. Some others (like myself) see it differently with Joanne stuck in a dead-end relationship and even if she still loves Gio, the magic is no longer there. Any interpretation could have worked and that just makes the vague ending even more perfect.”

Antoinette Jadaone, writer/director: “‘Yang eksenang ‘yan ang huli kong kinunan sa pelikula. Sa utak ko, habang sinusulat ko pa lang ‘yung script, alam ko na paano mag-eend ang pelikula – two-shot ni Gio at Joanne, nakatingin sa harap, hindi alam kung magagalak ba o matatakot sa hinaharap. Bago ang eksena, kinausap ko silang dalawa separately. Hindi naririnig ng isa’t isa para pagpasok nila sa kotse at pag-roll ng camera, sakto sa nararamdam nina Gio at Joanne, hindi nila alam ang iniisip ng isa’t isa. Pag nagbabago ng angle ng camera, iniiba ko ang binubulong ko kina Nadine at James, para hindi pa rin nila mahulaan kung paano aarte ang co-actor nila. ‘Yung instruction ko, hindi specific na – ‘umiyak ka dito’, ‘patulo ka ng luha’, ‘ngumiti ka lang’ – mas kung ano ang nararamdaman ng character, ano tumatakbo sa utak nila, ano nangyari bago sila pumasok ng kotse. So ‘yung nangyari sa eksena, bukod sa iyon ang gusto kong mangyari ay interpretation din talaga ‘yun ni Nadine at James bilang Joanne at Gio. Kilala ko sina Joanne at Gio kasi ako ang nagsulat nun, pero sa puntong ‘yun, baka mas kilala na nina James at Nadine. Baka iba pagkakakilala nila. Nagmeet kami sa gitna.

Sabi ko kay Ben, editor ko, gusto ko fade to black ‘yung dulo, ‘yung pinakamabagal na fade to black. ‘Yung parang alam mong mawawala na ang memories unti-unti kaya gusto mo i-extend hanggang dulo ‘yung alaala.”

 

The ending (Oda sa Wala)

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Skilty Labastilla, Pinoy Rebyu: “There is no better way for a film as strange and as bewildering as Oda sa Wala to end the way it did. After packing their things and finally leaving their ancestral abode, Sonya and father Rudy’s beat-up car malfunctions on a provincial road. While Rudy fixes the car, Sonya spots the specter of the dead woman, whose corpse they have just disposed of, walking into the woods beside the road. Sonya naturally follows her and the camera swirls and swooshes around her as she loses track of the specter.

The haunting beauty of this scene, for me, encapsulates the film’s essence, which questions our perceptions of reality (Is Sonya really gradually descending into madness?) as well as makes us reflect on the meaning of our existence. Per Sartre, nothingness carries being in its heart, and we seek to escape the drudgery of our humdrum lives through visions (such as dreams). Viewed this way, then, Oda sa Wala is really Ode to Cinema.”

Armando dela Cruz, Unreel: “The soul-stirring finale of Oda Sa Wala—the third feature film from Dwein Baltazar—is an affecting, confounding, and all the while reassuring coda to an elegiac portrait of sorrowful isolation. It adds to the list of rare moments in cinema that sears an indelible imprint in your being, as unerringly and unsettlingly as Sonya’s turning to a mysterious cadaver for light, among other things that are not there. It’s a scene that begs to be experienced more than once, and in Baltazar’s deft hands allows itself to signify more than one concrete thing. What is lost when something follows Sonya, portrayed with exacting grace by Marietta Subong, is painful and sad. But what is also found in those final moments is an unforgettable meeting of two kindred spirits.”

Dwein Baltazar, writer/director: “Malinaw sa’kin kung anong gusto kong sabihin sa ending ng Oda sa Wala, pero dahil internal ito at intangible, nagstruggle ako kung paano ito i-e-execute visually. On paper iba ang ending ng pelikula, may tanong pa rin sa dulo pero mas nasagot tayo sa kung anong nangyari kina Sonya at Tatay Rudy. Mas madugo rin. Isang bagay na hindi ako sold una palang, na napansin din ng Black Sheep. Isa sa mga kondisyon nila na kailangan baguhin ko ang ending.

Ang mister ko, (Pat Apura) na animator naman -at writer din, ang nakaisip nito. Galing sa kanya lahat! Isinulat at shinoot ko lang. Hindi ko alam kung sa’n niya napulot. Siguro gano’n niya lang talaga ako kakilala, gano’n niya rin kakilala ang Oda.”

Marietta Subong, actor: “Isa ito sa pinaka-importanteng pelikulang ginawa ko bilang artista, siguro dahil ibang suporta din naman at tiwala ang binigay sakin ng aking direktor at mga kasamang artista. Malaki ang pasasalamat ko sa Oda sa Wala dahil napakita din naman dito ang kakayanan ko bilang artista, kaya naman ganon din ang pasasalamat ko sa mga hurado na nagtiwala at naniwala sa pelikulang ito at sa napakagandang pagkilala nila sa Oda. Isa sa pinakatumatak din sakin sa eksena ng pelikula ay ang eksenang kausap ko na para bang totoong buháy na tao ang bangkay habang may luha at nasasaktan ako sa eksena. Salamat, maraming salamat sa inyo at naway dumami pa ang nga kagaya niyo na lubos ang suporta sa mga ganitong proyekto ❤️.”

 

Battle of Tirad Pass (Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral)

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Nazamel Tabares, Pelikula Mania: “It’s the moment Goyo realizes a plan until the last gunshot is fired, Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral‘s Battle of Tirad Pass sequence is big in scope visually and emotionally. Even if we know what will happen to Gregorio and his troops, there’s still excitement, you still feel hope that these characters will make it through. And that’s magic in cinema. You’re with the journey of those troops, you also feel the dirt, the sun and the loss of hope.”

Jerrold Tarog, co-writer/director: “We shot in Mt. Balagbag for two months. The Tirad Pass battle took about 13 days to complete.

Logistics-wise, the challenge was how to bring people and equipment up there and move them around because we weren’t just confined to one space but had to hike back and forth between several hills. The weather was also unpredictable, particularly the fog, which would come in without warning and either disappear just as fast or hang around the entire day. Then there’s rain, sudden heat, mud. A lot of times we’d just wait it out. Blocking was also difficult especially if your camera is positioned on one hill and the actors are in another. It took some trial-and-error and extensive planning to get it all done.

In terms of visuals, the priority was defining the space and relative positions of the Filipinos and Americans. That’s why we shot mostly in wides and only went closer for crucial bits of information and emotion. For the most part, you could see who a soldier was shooting at or where their attacker was shooting from. The final gun fight in Kevin Costner’s OPEN RANGE was a big inspiration.

In audio post-production, we tried to make sure the bullet zings and whooshes were coming from the right direction—not just left and right, but also behind and above (thanks to the Dolby Atmos setup). We gave subtle differences in ambience for every hill and paid attention to the physics of sound. For example, in a long range rifle shot, you see the muzzle flash first, hear the impact and a bit of the whoosh close to you before you hear the distant pop.

It was a great learning experience and experiment, but I don’t know if I’d want to do that again.”

 

“Hindi na kita mahal” (Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon)

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Jay Lacanilao, Jaynormous Mind: “In Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon, when Dante Rivero’s Bene confronts his former wife Tere (exquisitely played by Perla Bautista) about their wilted relationship, Tere, without any hint of spite, tells him that she no longer loves him. A flash of silence covered a jampacked CCP Main Theater little by little turning to sounds of sobs. That scene encompasses so much emotion varying from grief to relief, delicately leaving a mark to everyone in that huge theater.

Carlo Catu’s approach veers away from the trope of melodramatic confrontation scenes. The whole act is rather subdued, yet each pause, quiet sighs from Dante Rivero, and tender composure of Perla Bautista, heighten its impact and emotional pull. Oddly enough, it’s also a bit cathartic.”

John Carlo Pacala, writer: “Nung sinulat ko ang Dapithapon, it was set in Malabon and all of the characters talk in Tagalog. Nung inupuan na namin ni Carlo ang script, tinanong niya ako kung okay lang daw ba na sa Pampanga gawin ang location at gawing Kapampangan ang dialogue. Sabi ko, okay lang naman, pero may mga dialogues ako na kung pwede sana ay i-keep na Tagalog. At isa sa pinaka malaking chunk nung request na iyon ay ang ‘Di na kita mahal’ confrontation scene. At dahil nga gusto kong i-keep na Tagalog ang eksenang ito at Kapampangan ang iba, nag-revamp kami ng characterization at back stories ng tatlong bida para ma-accomodate yung request ko.”

Carlo Enciso Catu, director: “Kahit noong script pa lang sa Cinepanulat – Screenwriting Lab ni Jun Lana, itong Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon ni John Carlo Pacala, itong ‘Hindi na kita mahal’ scene na talaga ang isa sa mga memorable at favorite scenes from our Cinepanulat batch.

Sobrang tagos lang kasi talaga.

Kahit ako gustong gusto ko ‘yung eksena even before mapunta sa akin ‘tong materyal. Kaya naman two years later, nang gagawin ko na ang Kung Paano ang Hinihintay ang Dapithapon as part of Cinemalaya 2018, sobrang laki talaga ng pressure ng mismong eksenang ito para sa sarili ko. Bukod kasi sa I love the scene very much, malinaw sa akin bilang director na isa ito sa mga eksenang can make or break ng buong pelikula namin.

At hindi siya naging madaling i-pull off.

Nataon na nung kukunan na namin ang eksenang ‘to, Tito Dante (Bene) had to leave the set on his cut-off time very strictly. At that time kasi may kasabay siyang serye sa amin. E one cam set-up kami. At wala na kaming paglalagyan ng eksena sakaling i-drop namin dahil limited shooting days lang din talaga kami (7 shooting days).

So kailangan na lang namin bilisan.

Pero dahil gabi na rin at medyo pagod at mabagal na ang buong team, kahit mga artista nakakalimot na ng mga linya dahil sa pagod at puyat, wala akong ibang magawa kundi mag-adjust at maging strong. Kahit deep inside me gusto ko nang umiyak kasi sobrang importante ng eksena na ‘to for me and for our film pero wala, kailangan maging matatag ako for everybody.

Kaya ang game plan namin ay tapusin muna lahat ng mga lines ni Tito Dante. Tapos wide shots. Pero pagtapos nun, as much as Tito Dante wanted to stay to support Tita Perla (Teresa) he really had to go. So kinunan namin ang mga lines ni Tita Perla nang mag-isa siya. At doon ko lalong na-appreciate si Tita Perla for her professionalism and dedication.  Wala akong narinig na reklamo sa kanya kahit pa hinuli namin siya dahil nga sa sitwasyon.

Pero hindi pa rin naging madali i-edit ang eksenang ‘to comes post-production. We had to re-dub some of the lines, maraming version of edits, kanino dapat ibato ang camera sa linyang ito, ano dapat ang emotion ni Teresa kay Bene and vice versa. Naalala ko sobrang habang diskusyonan namin ni Cyril Bautista (editor) sa eksenang ito. Kasi every beat counts. Isang maling beat, masisira ang buong eksena.

Pero ‘yun naman ang kagandahan sa post-production lalo kapag may oras, puwede kang mag trial and error. Mabuti na lang may oras kami. Kaya pati sound design natutukan namin. Kami naman ni Immanuel Verona (sound design) ang nagtuos sa sound design ng scene na ‘to. Sabi ko kasi, gusto ko pati sound design nagku-kwento. Kaya ginamit namin ang tunong ng ulan para sabayan ang emosyon ni scene. Kung susuriin, kasabay ng confrontation na ito ang pagtahan ng ulan. Pagkatapos sabihin ni Teresa ang paborito nating lahat na linya niyang: ‘Hindi ako galit sa’yo. Hindi dahil mahal kita. Kaya kitang harapin ngayon dahil hindi na kita mahal‘, tuluyan na ding tumila ang ulan. At ang susunod na eksena ay ang pagsibol na ng bagong araw at ang pagdating ng dapithapon.”

 

“Good morning, Embassy!” (Signal Rock)

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Manuel Pangaruy, Tagailog Special Presents: “Bago tayo nakadaong sa ‘Good morning, Embassy!’ scene sa Signal Rock, marami muna itong tinawid na bagyo. Puwedeng napagod na rin tayo sa lahat ng nais ni Intoy (Christian Bables) na sagipin ang kanyang sense of community (ang kanyang sariling ‘isla’) o nakikatig tayo sa paglalayag ng inang si Alicia (Daria Ramirez), na sa kabila ng lahat ng mga pabigat na umaangkla sa kanya pailalim ay lumutang upang harapin ang kinatawan ng kolonyalismo (ang isang anak, halimbawa, ay isang OFW o ang pakikitungo sa dating asawa ay may pahapyaw na konsepto ng invasion). Historically, mahirap na hindi makilala ang sarili sa ganitong uri ng kalmadong pagbangon. Nakalugmok pero umaalagwa. Latang lata pero kayang bumuhat ng ‘sandosenang barko. Basang sisiw pero pinipilit maging matayog ang lipad.”

Rody Vera, writer: “I imagined at that point, the Abakan family underwent a lot of stress: After enduring a terrible storm, and having been made to brave the high waves just to meet the Finnish consul in the main island, coming in drenched and cold, Intoy and his parents, despite all this, still strived to make a good impression. I imagine it’s the same pressure we are in when we apply for a visa in embassies of those restrictive countries who assume Pinoys are inherently guilty of something: we fumble and stammer and try our very best to second-guess what these officials want to hear.

When I wrote that scene, I didn’t intend to pull a gag. It was the most logical thing that Alicia (Intoy’s mother) could do. Intoy started it anyway (‘Good morning, Mr. Embassy’), and she just echoed what she thought she heard. She must have thought that’s how you greet people of that stature.

That was written two years before the film’s release. By the time it was screened I could not recall the specific details of what I’ve written. And upon watching it myself, I laughed the first time I saw Daria Ramirez utter that line, like it was the first time I heard it. It sounded so spontaneous and candid. More importantly, it carried all the contexts and the tension we’ve known from beginning up to this point: their anxiety at getting caught, their show of poise no matter how awkward it could be, their educational background, their aim to please or placate, their exasperation and their exhaustion after going through that stormy sea. It was all there in the way Daria Ramirez said it.

People kept asking me if that was written in or improvised and, since I hadn’t had the chance to review the script, I, too, thought it was an ad lib. It sounded and felt like one! Until of course I checked and there it was in the script. But as written, it didn’t sound funny, it didn’t carry that same punch. It took terrific timing and attitude to give that line the impact that made it so memorable. And so yes, it was hers, not mine now.”

 

The ending (Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon)

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Jim Paranal, Third World Cinema Club: “Tumatak sa mga manonood ang huling eksena sa Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon. Ipinakita ang tatlong karakter na nakaharap sa dalampasigan habang lumulubog ang araw. Mula sa eksena na namatay si Bene (Dante Rivero) habang nasa sasakyan, na maaaring maihalintulad sa huling sandali sa pelikulang Midnight Cowboy, ay dama natin ang kalungkutan kahit pa nagkasundo ang mga tauhan tungkol sa kanilang mga buhay hanggang sa pagpunta sa beach. Magka-salungat naman ang huling eksena ng Pahiram ng Isang Umaga at sa pelikulang ito. Imbes na hintayin ang umaga ay mas minabuti ng mga tauhan na takipsilim ang maging pamamaalam ng isang mahalagang karakter. Mahusay na tinalakay ng pelikula ang mga isyu tulad ng pagmamahal, pagpapatawad at nalalabing araw hanggang kamatayan ng tao. Ang dapithapon ay sumisimbolo sa bahagi ng ating buhay kung saan ay lumilipas ang panahon at ang ating edad. Maaari ring simbolo ito ng pagmamahal at kapatawaran kahit pa sa huling sandali ng buhay.”

John Carlo Pacala, writer: “Isa sa mga pinagdebatehan naming eksena ni Carlo ang final beach scene. Sa first draft ko kasi, si Celso at Teresa lang ang pumunta sa beach at nangyari ito matapos mamatay ni Bene. Carlo then asked me: what if tatlo silang nakarating sa beach? So, nag-revise kami ng script para makarating silang tatlo sa beach. And I think that’s a really good decision. This revised ending made the film warmer and more approachable as opposed to the cold and bleak ending of the original script.”

Carlo Enciso Catu, director: “Sa original na script ni John Carlo Pacala iiwanan nina Teresa at Celso ang bangkay ni Bene sa luma niyang bahay, dahil ‘yon ang huling hiling ni Bene: mamatay kasama ang kanyang bahay.

Pupunta sa beach sina Teresa at Celso at lalamunin si Bene ng kanyang gumuguhong bahay sa paglipas ng panahon– kagaya ng panaginip ni Bene. Sa script sobrang gandang basahin nito. Pero nang mag-one on one kami ni JC at tanungin ko kung ano ang gusto niyang sabihin sa ending na ‘to, pati siya hindi niya ma-verbalize. Basta. Ang isasagot niya sa akin sabay tawanan kaming dalawa.

Tapos nung ginagawa ko na ‘yung director’s notebook ko pati pinag-aaralan ko na ‘yung pelikula kung saan napakaraming puwedeng puntahan ng kwento ni JC pagdating sa treatment ng director, nagkita kami nina Zig Dulay at Shane David, mga kapwa ko filmmakers and friends.

Doon sinabi ko sa kanila ‘yung problema ko sa ending namin ni JC. Bukod sa hindi pa namin mahawakan ni JC ang gusto talaga namin sabihin ang hirap din i-mount ng gumuguhong bahay kung saan nasa loob ang bangkay ni Bene.

So brainstorming kaming tatlo.

Naalala ko sabi namin nina Zig ‘bakit mo iiwanan si Bene sa bahay tapos magbi-beach lang kayo?’, ‘ganun ka-atat mag-dagat, iniwan na lang basta?’, ‘kapag iniwan mo dun si Bene, mangangamoy ‘yung bangkay niya, mems, sooner or later madidiskubre. Magiging kriminal pa sina Teresa at Celso!’. Lahat ng ‘to mga nagsusukang utak lang namin habang pinagtatawanan ang mga sarili, pero this somehow pushed us sa puso ng pelikula, kahit pa malinaw naman kay JC na ang original ending niya ay somehow methaporical in its sense.

Shane then suggested: ‘alam mo bakit hindi na lang nila isama si Bene sa beach!’ That’s our light-bulb moment. ‘Tama’, sabi ni Zig, ‘bilang ang buong pelikula mo naman ay tungkol sa companionship na sa huli, ang meaning pala ng pagmamahal ay pagsasama. Tapos dinugtungan ko ‘at literal at metaporikal na sinama nina Teresa at Celso si Bene hanggang sa kanyang huling hininga. At sa kanyang pagkamatay, may bagong layer ng pagmamahalan ang nabuhay kina Teresa at Celso which perfectly fits the poetic meaning of Dapithapon – wakas at simula’, tapos nag-cheers kaming tatlo.

Sinulat na ni JC ang bago naming ending pagkatapos.”

 

“Erna!” (Mamu: And a Mother Too)

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James Espinoza, film reviewer: “As those familiar with gay slang would know, erna refers to excrement, and in the film, one of Mamu’s clients requests that they engage in scat play. Mamu acquiesces for the cash, and the film then proceeds to show in vivid detail what that entails. It’s shocking for sure; no other local film has ever dared to do anything like it. And the shit surely does look realistic. Mamu takes it with a brave face, and thus so must the audience. But a key part of this scene is that despite it being a monetary transaction, it never feels abusive because the customer treats Mamu with respect and repeatedly asks for her consent. At no point does the film pass judgment on either the customer’s fetish that is still widely considered taboo or the prostitute who views it as another day in her job. When the customer asks for Mamu’s name after the act, she proudly says ‘My name is Erna. Ernalyn for short.’ – a sort of joke’s on you that translates as her way of owning the situation. A lesser film would have considered this a character’s low point, but Mamu only sees a sense of achievement, declaring as she recounted the event with gusto to her best friend that ‘My name is Erna. I fuck with no limits. Name it, and I’ll do it.’ The Erna scene encapsulates what Mamu; And a Mother Too is – an unflinching and sex-positive representation of the trans experience, and one that’s truly memorable.”

Rod Singh, writer/director: “Yung Erna scene ay based sa isang story na narinig ko personally during my immersion for a docu film sa Angeles, Pampanga noong 2013. Nakakaloka lang to think kung gaano kalalim yung gagawin ng ating kababaihan to earn. And I know, it’s always more than earning na behind every person’s job is a story. And this scene from my film is basically to say how much a transwoman can do to prove her motherhood. In reality, transwomen tend to do 4x more than cisgender people, parang si Ernalyn. To prove her womanhood and the worth of her motherhood, ganito yung ginawa niya, na I know na gagawin din to ng kahit sinong with maternal instinct, biological mother man or adoptive. This is not just a sacrifice for her eh, it’s a 360 degree turn sa character niya kasi nga established sa umpisa na ayaw nga niya yung customer with fetish.

Also, dito ko din kasi napasok yung pulitika ko. Mamu is reflective sa current political landscape natin. Na there are foreigners who are willing to pay us ‘more’ pero bababuyin ka. Mamu rejected the ‘white guy’ sa umpisa na gusto siyang babuyin. In the end, kumapit siya sa Intsik, na malaking malaki ang ibibigay sa kaniya sa panahon na kailangan niya, pero pinakain siya ng tae. And also reflective din to sa paano tinitignan ng kultura at lipunan ang mga LGBT, na no matter what we do, babatuhin at babatuhin kami ng tae to tell us kung ‘ano’ kami. Pero sorry na lang ano, tinutulak niyo kami para madapa, pero alam naman natin na ang first step sa pag-tayo ay ang pag-luhod — at magaling kami diyan. Matutulak at madadapa kami, mababato o mapapaiyak niyo kami. Pero hindi niyo kami mapapatumba. Yan si Mamu na naging si Ernalyn. Ika nga ni Catriona, silver lining sa everything, kahit sa erna pa yan.

Yung shooting nung scene, mahirap. Sa totoo lang nakakaawa si Iyah and sobrang laking bagay na she trusted me sa eksenang ito. Iba’t ibang motivation ang binigay ko sa kaniya to see the pain in her eyes. Wala kasing dialogue dito eh.

Tapos inuna pa namin i-shoot yung montage ng mga customers niyang foreigner, na yung iba dun, talagang mga taga doon mismo so iba din talaga yung pag-handle namin sa eksena. Iningatan ko talaga yung eksena na yun to make sure na hindi ko naviolate si Iyah at yung mga artista. Lahat kami halos nasuka sa preview nung eksena pero ramdam na ramdam ko yung hiningi kong emosyon kay Iyah.”

 

Long tracking shot (BuyBust)

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Emil Hofileña, Emil Reviews Things: “The thrill of a good action scene doesn’t only come from the catharsis of watching simulated acts of violence occur on screen. In the case of Erik Matti’s exhilarating, three-minute unbroken tracking shot in BuyBust, the joy comes from seeing an entire team of craftsmen pull off the kind of magic trick that you can only get from the movies. This scene where officer Manigan (Anne Curtis) fights off a horde of assailants by herself on the rooftops of the Tondo slums is a wonder of direction, production design, and meticulous choreography. It accomplishes some things that even some Hollywood productions are hesitant to attempt: the camera moves vertically as well as laterally, stuntmen and background actors pour in from every hole and crevice, and Curtis performs real stunts on camera. It’s a new benchmark against which all other Filipino action set pieces should be measured.”

Anne Curtis, actor (from media conference): “We did a 5-day rehearsal for one scene. It was a three-minute scene na one continuous shot na pinagpapasa-pasahan lang yung camera ng apat na cameramen. So galing ako sa baba, aakyat ako ng bubong, bababa ako ng bubong, makikipag-away ako sa bubong, aakyat ulit ako sa bubong, hanggang sa malaglag ako sa bubong. And one take yun. So it took us 57 takes to get it right in a span of three days, bago namin nakuha yung eksena. Yung first day namin shinoot to nasuka ako sa hirap niya. Hindi po biro yun, nasuka talaga ako.

Erik Matti, co-writer/director (continuing from Curtis’ answer): The first day akala namin may good take, so natuwa na kami sa first day. When we viewed it completely na wala na sa shoot, hindi pala kami happy. Second day wala kaming good take. Third day, saka pa lang siya nabuo, at 4:15 am.

Because of Anne’s stamina, we were able to do… isipin niyo lang, 3 minutes na akyat, takbo, baba, suntok, sipa, in a scene na puro ulan na dadaan siya sa mga bubong, for 17 takes in one day, sometimes 21, hindi siya madali.

Kung 3 minutes kasi lahat, pag may na-delay na papasok na aaway sa kanya, syempre mamamali yung galaw niya eh. Kasi parang sayaw siya, di ba? Kailangan pagpasok niya sakto may lumalabas or sakto may susuntok sa kanya. Pag naalangan yun – hindi lang si Anne kundi yung mga stuntmen, crowd extras – uulit yun from the top.”

 

Ending and credits (Liway)

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Emil Hofileña, Emil Reviews Things: “The morning after Day (Glaiza de Castro) has been torn away from her son, Dakip (Kenken Nuyad), he searches the prison he calls home, mirroring the hide-and-seek game he plays at the beginning of the film. But just as we begin to accept Day’s fate at the hands of the Marcos regime, the boy finds his way out into open space and back into his mother’s arms. It’s an unexpectedly hopeful conclusion for a story set in a time when hope seemed forfeit.

But Oebanda doesn’t stop here. He gives us a series of closing notes that somehow wind up becoming Liway’s most emotional moments. Through nothing but white text, he inspires immense joy and satisfaction, telling us how the titular commander continued her fight and how some of the money reclaimed from the late dictator was used to make this movie.

And then Oebanda reveals that the little boy we were just watching is none other than the director himself. As the words ‘Directed by Kip Oebanda’ are flashed on screen, Liway transforms into an ode to the freedom that parents get to pass on to their children, to the sacrifices made so that we may continue telling our own stories today. It single-handedly affirms cinema as a valid means for self-expression, protest, and social change.”

Kip Oebanda, writer/director: “There is a systemic and well-funded effort to discredit the personal history of the victims of the martial law. The powerful want to hide the national shame of a democracy that abruptly embraced dictatorship. This was the main motivation for how we chose to end the film. Prior to the movie’s making, we consulted with various groups that recently organized against this revisionist agenda. I found them feeling dejected and hopeless. It seemed that our country’s moral compass was pointing further and further away from human rights. There were no real victories to speak of at that time. We deliberately wanted to create a film that finds hope despite great adversity, that seeks beauty and humanity in the struggle. We wanted to find optimism in the midst of a brewing storm. In the past, dictatorship was declared and explicit. Today, it is like a thunderstorm in the distance, inching closer to us as we slowly grow either desensitized or deflated. But there is justice in the world. It may take time. It will take sacrifices, but it is worth fighting for. It took us over thirty years to get the stolen money from the dictator’s Swiss bank accounts, give it back to the victims and use it for a better cause – to tell stories so that the lessons of the past may be re-learned. I suspect that people chanted, rallied and cried in the theaters because it has become clear to them that justice is viable and its pursuit, no matter how frustratingly long is never futile.”

 

Shana is everyone in the bar (Kung Paano Siya Nawala)

nawala

Macky Macarayan, Death of Traditional Cinema: “The ‘Shana is everywhere’ sequence serves as the film’s beating heart, not only with its masterful editing and direction, but because it bookends the story before taking it to darker territories. The scene opens as Lio (JM De Guzman) and Shana (Rhian Ramos) enter a packed bar, where UDD’s ‘Anino’ plays in the background. All of a sudden, Shana begins to cry, perhaps as a culmination of all her baggage, and Lio, despite his own personal woes, offers to take some load off Shana. They kiss, in a non-glamorized romcom manner, but rather a slow and passionate one, and soon, Lio begins seeing Shana everywhere – as a random chick in a nearby table, as the bartender, and even as the singer on stage. It is a visual cue, that Lio, who has trouble remembering faces, can now recall the one face he wants to remember. The scene is both hypnotic and heartfelt, which would also be a foreshadowing of sorts for later events.”

Aloy Adlawan, co-writer: “I don’t remember exactly how the scene came to be. But it’s a reference to an old romantic device or trope at some point in the narrative of movie’s love story where a lead character starts falling in love hard with someone he/she sees his/beloved everywhere, as a form of externalization. Kung Paano Siya Nawala was of course the perfect material to use the device in its most literal sense and still make it work to its figurative degree.”

Joel Ruiz, co-writer/director: “This scene was the take-off point for the entire film. It was swimming in my head before there was even a plot. It’s very much about how, when you’re in love, everyone and everything reminds you of that person; you see them everywhere. The actors embraced the scene completely and the performance of JM and Rhian you see onscreen is the first take. I remember it was so hot in that bar that it was difficult to breathe, but, without words, the two acted the hell out of that scene. The whole set was hushed, and it was one of those rare instances that I felt that what we just shot was magic… and these two actors get 100% credit for it.

Incidentally, although I wrote this with Up Dharma Down’s song ‘Anino’ in mind, we shot the scene with a different song and performer. In post-production, Armi Millare, who is also our scorer, and I decided that ‘Anino’ was a better fit. They recorded a special version of the song for us.”

 

Fourth wall break (Kuya Wes)

wes2

Nicol Latayan, Tit for Tat: “Kuya Wes is a character that reminds us of someone we personally know, probably an officemate who does more than what was expected of him at work, or a friend who sacrifices and is selfless towards his family. Sometimes it can also be us – tapping our inner good vibes and hoping that channelled optimism will translate into something – or in the case of Kuya Wes, someone – special.

But as Kuya Wes has shown us, optimism will only take you so far. In the film’s highlight scene, we see an impressive long tracking shot following Kuya Wes walking – disappointed, confused, angry, not knowing where to go. It is when the happy pill has ran its course, the positivity bubble has already popped, and the reality has finally slapped him in the face. He’s on the verge of a meltdown and the audience is curious what he will do. He walks some more, turns around, looks at the camera and breaks the fourth wall. I find this scene particularly impressive not only technically, but because it signifies Kuya Wes’ entire character – he’s the type of person mostly overlooked and taken for granted, whose identity has been replaced by what he does and that scene highlights him at his most vulnerable.”

James Robin Mayo, director: “One of my favorite scenes sa Kuya Wes ay yung breaking the fourth wall scene. Simula nung ginawa ko yung The Chanters, I told myself na I will put a piece of my heart in all the films na gagawin ko. And honestly, aaminin ko ngayon, when I interpreted the script of Denise and Heber, I based it from my experiences.

Kuya Wes was inspired from an ordinary person who just simply appreciates everything and looks at life positively. But for me, it is the story of the mask that we use from time to time to cover the emptiness in our lives. It’s called love. We love because we become happy, we are happy because we are loved. Sadness is not the opposite of happiness. It is the absence of happiness. You can find happiness everywhere. You just remove the mask, be yourself, be kind rather than be right. Commit mistakes and right the wrongs. Live life the way you wanted to as long as you don’t harm anyone.

In Kuya Wes, etong scene na ito yung ‘piece of my heart’. Eto yung moment na napagod na si Kuya Wes, kinonfront na niya lahat, yung ultimate love niya, yung kuya niya, yung sarili niya and finally, ako, tayo… tayong mga manonood. Sure kasi ako na at this point of the film, may judgement na tayo kay Wes. Either natatangahan tayo sa kanya, o naaawa. Or pwede ring both. Im sure, may ilang audience na bwiset na sa kanya. This scene is the beginning of his realization na he’s worthy and may value siya. Kaya after ng scene na ito, mapapansin mo visually, malaki na yung space niya sa screen. And when he had the final conversation with Erika, mas malaki na ang space niya. And kahit don sa ending, iniwan niya tayo sa loob kasama si Erika habang pinagmamasdan natin siya sa labas. Mirror ito ng first frame ng film kung saan si Kuya Wes naman ang nasa loob at tinitingnan niya tayo. If you’ll look closely sa first scene, he’s directly looking at the camera. Napansin na niya tayo sa opening scene pa lang, and conscious na siya sa sarili niya from the very beginning.

We all just want to be happy just like Kuya Wes. Malayang maging masaya nang walang panghuhusga whether yung happiness mo ay maliit, malaki, posible or imposible man. Dahil minsan ang pagiging masaya sa maliliit at simpleng mga bagay ay desperate act to survive in this lonely life.”

 

INDIVIDUAL BALLOTS »

Ace Antipolo    

  1. The Abakan family meets the Finnish Consul (Signal Rock)
  2. The Ending (A Short History of a Few Bad Things)
  3. Pinang’s child dies (Liway)
  4. Home invasion (Ma)
  5. George and Primo’s jeepney scene (The Hows Of Us)

Archie del Mundo

  1. The first time Anne Curtis and Allan Paule scooped a dead body out of the water in Aurora
  2. The first time the team realized they are trapped in Buy Bust
  3. The Dream at night in Musmos
  4. The final scene in Double Twisting Double Back
  5. The final scene in Distance

Armando dela Cruz        

  1. Oda sa Wala’s final scene
  2. Kuya Wes’ final scene
  3. Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon’s scene at the beach
  4. Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral – The Battle at Tirad Pass
  5. BuyBust’s final scene – Claiming the narrative

Bernard Santos

  1. Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral Tirad Pass Battle Scene
  2. Atom Araullo and Cherie Gil Confrontation Scene in Citizen Jake
  3. Shaina Magdayao Torture Scene in Ang Panahon ng Halimaw
  4. Anne Curtis 3 minutes long take action scene in Buybuyst
  5. Kathryn Bernardo’s breakdown scene in The Hows of Us

Carlo Antonio Cielo

  1. Last scene + CBB, Mga Anak ng Kamote. Was stunned in my seat when the credits rolled. Even more than Katrina Halili’s sudden appearance in the theater. End of an era. And a closure.
  2. “Hindi mo ‘to kaya. Matibay ‘to” Maxine Eigenmann’s death scene in We Will Not Die Tonight. Didn’t even have to roar to be heard. Just solid badassity.
  3. That shot of the Digma ng Rosas pipol walking against the sunlight in Alimuom. Serves as turning point for Pinoy alternative cinema (wherein direk Keith and ma’am Sari were among the pioneers) from the mysticism of the ‘70s-’90s into the more sci-fi context of ‘10s metaconcerns. The early ones were full of shots like that, so it’s nice to see a reframing of that naturalist/revolutionist aesthetic.
  4. When Ramil got shot and everything took a turn for the worse in We Will Not Die Tonight. Also it’s most feral, vicious, post-Tokhang moment. The karambola of it all.
  5. “Lodi ang tibak!” Final song/CBB. Ang Ultranationalist Kong T’yong. Dug this more than those scenes combined (it’s such a tribute to woke zennials sniff), but it’s a bunch of lyrics on the screen, so it barely counts as a ‘scene’. It gets in the list because it’s a demonstration of desktop cinema, emulating the cheap Youtube lyric video to show the shallowness of activism these days, with regards to media ‘strategies’ and notions of mileage. Which the movie criticizes with its own activism – rather, self-criticism.

Den Lebantino 

  1. Conversation at convenience store (Never Not Love You)
  2. Car scene – ending (The Day After Valentine’s)
  3. Kitchen scene – morning after love scene (Meet Me In St. Gallen)
  4. Ending (Oda sa Wala)
  5. “Nanlaban po ang suspect scene (Buy Bust)

DJ Ramones      

  1. The reading of the poem ‘Panawagan’ (Gusto Kita with All My Hypothalamus)
  2. Sonya in the forest, in the poetic ending (Oda sa Wala)
  3. The play in the town plaza narrating Goyo’s life, cutting to Goyo’s recollection of the Battle of Kakarong de Sili (Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral)
  4. The closing shot of Tanabata’s face, reacting to something unseen (Tanabata’s Wife)
  5. Wena’s daughter saying “You’re mad at me” (All Grown Up)

Ed Ramirez

  1. Never Not Love You ending
  2. Oda sa Wala ending
  3. Erna moment in Mamu
  4. Ricky Davao being fisted in Fisting
  5. Juan Miguel Severo’s character admitting his envy of Kathryn Bernardo’s character in The Hows of Us

Emil Hofileña   

  1. Liway – the ending
  2. Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral – Pasong Tirad
  3. BuyBust – the long tracking shot
  4. ML – the Colonel’s family arrives home
  5. Hintayan ng Langit – the ending

Emil Nor Urao  

  1. Erna (Mamu; and a Mother Too)
  2. Paghatid ng tosino (Pan de Salawal)
  3. Hindi na kita mahal (Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon)
  4. Biggie Chen (BuyBust)
  5. Beastmode Teri Malvar (Distance)

Fidel Medel      

  1. The ending (Never Not Love You)
  2. Jesse and Celeste parts way after their 2nd meeting (Meet Me in St. Gallen)
  3. Confrontation between father and son (Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon)
  4. DoReMi scene (Paglisan)
  5. Manigan and Yatco being attacked by housewives and gay men carrying improvised weapons (BuyBust)

Fred Hawson    

  1. “Good morning embassy” scene (Signal Rock)
  2. Battle of Tirad Pass scenes (Goyo)
  3. Rooftop shootout scene (Buybust)
  4. Final song number (Miss Granny)
  5. The reveal of director’s name (Liway)

Gerald Cajayon

  1. Interrogation scene in Ang Panahon ng Halimaw (the first scene where they sang the La La La~ tune)
  2. Ending of Sid & Aya
  3. Embassy (Signal Rock)
  4. Obeng and the mannequin (Gusto Kita With All My Hypothalamus)
  5. Day singing Himig ng Pag-ibig (Liway)

Irvin Contreras 

  • Tirad Pass, Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral
  • Meeting Biggie Chem, BuyBust

James Espinoza

  1. Final scene – Never Not Love You
  2. Erna scene – Mamu; And a Mother Too
  3. Last phone call – Signal Rock
  4. Goyo’s death – Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral
  5. Dakip climbing the tree – Liway

Jay Lacanilao     

  1. Tere tells Bene that she no longer loves him (Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon)
  2. Ghost follows Sonya in the forest — Finale (Oda sa Wala)
  3. Opening scene/Quiapo Montage (Gusto Kita With All my Hypothalamus)
  4. Celso and Tere rest in the beach with Bene’s dead body — Finale (Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon)
  5. “Nanlaban ang suspek” cut to a birds eye view shot of the aftermath — Finale (BuyBust)

Jay Rosas

  1. Final shot in Never Not Love You
  2. Final scene (“back to the womb”) in Dog Days
  3. Daria Ramirez’ “Good morning scene” in Signal Rock
  4. Final scene in Oda sa Wala
  5. Singing in the jungle/bonfire in Liway

Jim Paranal

  1. Confrontation between Nina Manigan (Anne Curtis) and Biggie Chen (Arjo Atayde) in Buy Bust
  2. Tanabata (Miyuki Kamimura) and Fas-Ang (Mai Fanglayan) arguing about their child’s name in Tanabata’s Wife
  3. Three elders waiting for sunset in the final shot of Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon
  4. Shana’s (Rhian Ramos) emotional moment in a bar, backed up by a soulful rendition of UDD’s song “Anino”. Moreover, Lio (JM De Guzman), who was suffering from face blindness, realized that he has finally found solace in Shana as he sees her face in every woman present in the bar in Kung Paano Siya Nawala
  5. Liway’s final scene and end credits

John Tawasil     

  1. Ending of Never Not Love You
  2. Ending of Oda sa Wala
  3. Scene at the bar in Kung Paano Siya Nawala
  4. Fourth Wall Breaking Scene in Kuya Wes
  5. Opening burning scene in Musmos na Sumibol sa Gubat ng Digma
  6. Long take in Buybust

Jonathan Ang   

  1. Erna! – “Mamu; And A Mother Too”

Json Javier

  1. Vague ending in the car (Never Not Love You)
  2. Breaking the fourth wall (Kuya Wes)
  3. Dakip looking over the wall, view not seen by the audience (Liway)
  4. Sunset ending (Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon)
  5. Confrontation scene (Distance)

Kevin Oliver Tan

  1. Goyo and Remedios dancing while Joven reads Goyo’s letters – Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral
  2. Nina Manigan’s 3-minute continuous action sequence – BuyBust
  3. Goyo drowning/premonition scene – Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral
  4. Teresa giving Bene a soft bath – Kung Paano Hinihintay Ang Dapithapon
  5. Wes’ heartbreak scene – Kuya Wes

Macky Macarayan          

  1. Bar scene, UDD’s “Anino” plays, JM de Guzman tells Rhian Ramos to share some of her burden with him, then he sees Rhian’s face everywhere, Kung Paano Siya Nawala
  2. Daria Ramirez saying “Good morning, embassy!” in Signal Rock
  3. Bribery scene involving lechon manok for Kapitana (Star Orjaliza), ASUANG
  4. Dakip sees the outside world for the first time, while riding a van, LIWAY
  5. 3D cinema scene, Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon

Macoy Delociento          

  1. Teri Malvar confronting Iza Calzado | Distance
  2. Fight Scenes | BuyBust
  3. Anthony Falcon putting the mannequin’s hand to his face | Gusto Kita with all my Hypothalamus
  4. Battle of Tirad Pass | Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral
  5. Dakip’s speech | Liway

Manuel Pangaruy

  1. “Good morning, Embassy!” in Signal Rock
  2. Car scene/Last frame in Never Not Love You
  3. Sunset scene in Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon
  4. Dakip listening to Liway’s song
  5. That extended rooftop fight scene in BuyBust

Matthew Escosia            

  1. The ex-lovers’ admission of regret and what-ifs in ‘Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon’
  2. The last scene of ‘Oda Sa Wala’
  3. Lechon manok and baboy argument in ‘Asuang’
  4. The surprise visit of the colonel’s family in ‘ML’
  5. Entire passion play in ‘Pag-ukit sa Paniniwala’

Mayk Alegre     

  1. Raining salt (Pan de Salawal)
  2. The ending (BuyBust)
  3. The ending (Tanabata’s Wife)
  4. Battle of Tirad Pass (Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral)
  5. Social media (Asuang)

Nazamel Tabares            

  1. Closing Text of ‘Liway’
  2. Tirad Pass Battle in ‘Goyo’
  3. Sonya walks into the Forest in ‘Oda sa Wala’
  4. Intoy was informed by her sister that they won the case in ‘Signal Rock’
  5. Joanne and Gio in the car as the film fades in ‘Never Not Love You’

Nicol Latayan    

  1. Kuya Wes, Kuya Wes breaks down the fourth wall
  2. Never Not Love You, ending
  3. Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes, Wives confront their husbands at Ma Mon Luk
  4. Oda sa Wala, Sonya’s meltdown confronting the corpse
  5. Pan de Salawal, musical number in the middle

Paul Castillo

  1. Kung Paano Hinihintay – Cutting Hair scene
  2. Ang Panahon ng Halimaw – Talampunay Blues scene
  3. Oda sa Wala – family dancing scene
  4. Buy Bust – One shot scene
  5. Citizen Jake – final confrontation

Robert Cerda    

  1. First after church mass Scene/Sequence- Signal Rock
  2. Last scene close up of Tanabata’s Face – Tanabata’s Wife
  3. Scene where Caloy stares at someplace while the gown she selected for Aileen hangs in his house
  4. ARIA – marching/training of a HUK platoon while Pining’s group sing.
  5. Angelica Panganiban’s character and Mimi (her cat’s) conversation – Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes

Skilty Labastilla

  1. “Hindi na kita mahal”, Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon
  2. “Himig ng Pag-ibig”, Liway
  3. Cris and Oreng dance, Paglisan
  4. Sonya tearfully confronts corpse, Oda sa Wala
  5. Everyone in the bar is Shana, Kung Paano Siya Nawala

Tristan Zinampan

  1. Paglisan’s Dream Serenade
  2. Oda sa Wala’s Staircase Scene sans Marietta Subong (the one where it’s all sounds before the big reveal)
  3. Never Not Love You Final Scene
  4. Kuya Wes scene set to Shirebound and Busking’s Waltz of Four Left Feet
  5. Billie and Emma Firewoman Scene

Wowie Lagman

  1. Perla Bautisa tells a hopeful Dante Rivero that she no longer loves him without any hint of spite in Kung Paano Hinihintay Ang Dapithapon
  2. Dad helps his son make a merman costume in Sa Saiyang Isla
  3. Emotional confrontation between Gina Parreno and Eddie Garcia when she finds out she’s leaving purgatory and let out all the emotions she’s repressed for years in Hintayan Ng Langit
  4. Therese Malvar’s breakdown scene in Distance
  5. Pokwang and her friend Sol’s coffin getting thrown out of the funeral parlor in Sol Searching
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