If you are a non-Pinoy movie snob , or just a movie snob who has interest in watching international films, I’d rather recommend you watch the movie than read this book. It is considered one of the best Filipino films of all time. In fact, it won the Viewer’s Choice Award for the Best Film of All Time from the Asia –Pacific region in the 2008 CNN Asia Pacific Screen Awards beating out nine other films voted by thousands of film fans around the world. *
The movie may be falling out of fashion, but it is still immortal among Filipinos, particularly among the generation of my parents . I do not know if the young Filipinos in this generation are familiar with this. When I was young , it was one of the common old movies shown on TV every Lenten Season here in the Philippines.
One of the unforgettable lines that marked us and are even parodied by comedians until now is:
“Ipinatawag ko kayong lahat dahil may gusto akong ikumpisal.
Nitong mga nakaraang araw, sa loob lamang ng napakaikiing panahon, parang naranasan natin ang pinaghalong langit at impiyerno. Maraming sakit ang gumaling, maraming tao ang bumuti at nagkaroon ng pananampalataya.Pero nakakita rin tayo ng kamatayan, ng epidemya, ng pagpuputa, ng krimen at panloloko.
Kapag may masamang nangyayari’y sinisisi natin ang sumpa. Isinumpa ang Cupang. Itinaboy kasi natin ang maysakit noon. Kaya ganoon. Kapag may mabuti namang nangyayari, sinasabi nating ito’y gawa ng langit. Gawa ng Birhen. Gawa ng himala.”
( I summoned you because there is something that I want to confess to.
These past few days, within just short period of time, we have experienced heaven and hell alike. Many sick have been healed, many people have been changed for the better and had faith. But we have also seen death , epidemic, prostitution, crime, and hoax.
When there is something bad happens, we put the blame on curse. The Cupang was put on curse because we drove the sick man away before. On the other hand, when there is something good happens, we claim that it is created by Heaven. an act of the Virgin, a miraculous act.)
And the last part of Elsa’s script which moved me to the bone:
“May ipagtatapat ako sa inyo.
Walang himala! Ang himala ay nasa puso ng tao! Nasa puso nating lahat’ Tayo ang gumagawa ng himala! Tayo ang gumagawa ng mga sumpa at ng mga DIyos!
Hindi totoong buntis ako dahil sa himala! Hindi totoong nagpakita sa akin ang Mahal na Birhen! Walang himala! Hindi totoong may himala! Tayo ang gumagawa ng himala! Tayo ang gumagawa ng mga sumpa at ng mga Diyos! Walang himala!”
( “There is something I want to confess to.
There is no miracle! Miracles are in people’s hearts, in all our hearts!It is not true that Virgin Mary appeared to me! There is no miracle! It is not true that there is miracle! We are the one who make miracle! We are the one who creates curses and gods! There is no miracle!”)
The woman in the book cover is the Philippines’ Super Star , Nora Aunor. She played in the movie as Elsa. This role is said to have redounded her to fame prior to her movie Minsa’y isang gamu-gamo, Once a Moth, which has another winning lines:
“My brother is not a pig! My brother is not a pig! Hindi baboy ramo ang kapatid ko, kundi tao!tao!”
I found the movie impressive and interesting. First, it can be understood in the context of religion and science. For instance, Elsa ( Nora Aunor ) admitted at the end of the story that she had lied all along , that there is no miracle. She just made up the things people in the barrio thought of as the effects of heavenly providence. She disabused the mind of the people that miracle does not come from heaven. Second, the settings, the locations, are matched with the theme. It was taped in a desert somewhere in Ilocos Norte. It was remote from the civilization. It was just a backward barrio located near a widely stretched sand dune, where superstitions were still observed. Therefore, the movie must illustrate that religion is illogical, influenced by mysticism. Third, it also paints a portrait of faith-healing,capitalism, morality, and poverty.
The story was written by Ricky Lee, considered as one of the best writers in the Philippines.
The movie was directed by Ishmael Bernal who was heralded as National Artist of the Philippines in 2001.
The book is a compilation of the behind-the –scene pictures- pictures of the cast and other people behind the movie, some trivia , how the idea of the movie was brought up. It also has the original scenes and scripts that were edited , particularly Elsa’s lines.
The things I did not know about the movie:
- It has been a 64 dollar question who killed Elsa? You can find out in the book that the hand holding a gun has a symbolic meaning.
- Some producers hung back from more than 3 million pesos budget. At that time, it was a big money.
- Charo Santos, the President of the TV network , ABS-CBN Corporation, was the executive producer of the movie . Indeed, she is one of richest women in the Philippines.
- This is the first Filipino film to be nominated in the 1982 Berlin Film Festival.
- I confirmed that Nora Aunor was in the habit of smoking when she was still a super star. (Just saying)
Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it. )
Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himala