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“Anong Kwento Mo? (What’s your story?),” the Cinemalaya Film Congress dares to ask in 2008. With 10 new digital full-length feature films, another 10 short films and more than a hundred other films in exhibition, Filipinos independent filmmakers take center stage and MEGA is present to give you a taste of their alluring tales this month.

Text by: Carren Jao
Published: MEGA October 2008

Filipina screen legend, Anita Linda, plays Adela, a former radio talent hoping to celebrate her 80th birthday in the company of her loved ones. A rapt audience journeys through the course of a day with Adela as she gradually- and with utter dignity- unfolds the story of her life one scene at a time.

Directed by Adolfo Alix Jr., a two-time Cinemalaya finalist for Donsol in 2006 and Kadin in 2007, Cinemalaya’s opening feature film unfurls much like its leading lady, slowly and almost imperceptibly building towards its climax as a cast of characters played by such familiar showbiz faces as German Moreno, Ricky Davao and Iza Calzado help bring to life this lady’s poignant tale. Will her loved ones make it to her side on this momentous day? One can only sit and watch in anticipation.

This Cinemalaya 2008 winner for Best Film is a tale of two Jays- one, called Jay Mercado, is a victim of a gay hate crime, while the other – Jay Santiago (Baron Geisler)- is the producer documenting the incident. As Jay Santiago delves into the story behind Jay Mercado, he is drawn deeper and deeper into the secret life and love of his subject. Based on Director Francis Pasion’s Grand Prize winning script in the 2007 Cinemanila FDCP International Film Festival Scriptwriting Contest, the audience is forewarned - what is revealed is not necessarily the truth.


Outside, World War II rages on and battles are being fought all over the Philippine islands, and, somewhere in Davao, a piano concert is held. Concerto is the tale of a Filipino family’s uneasy friendship with a group of Japanese officers camped nearby.

Former military commander Ricardo and wife Julia’s son, Joselito, is able to speak Japanese and becomes the bridge between these two cultures, while their two daughters Nina, an aspiring concert pianist and musically gifted Maria navigate their own biases and preferences as they face these Japanese officers. Based on Director Paul Alexander Morales’s own family history, this film eloquently depicts how beauty and compassion perseveres even through the cruelties of war.

Baby Angelo
An aborted baby found in the dumpster of a meager apartment complex becomes the catalyst for the tenants’s own self-introspection. As the investigation on this heinous event progresses throughout the movie, audiences eventually see that the lives within the apartment complex mirror that of the unborn child – full of broken dreams and stunted potential. Written by Joel Ruiz, a previous Cinemalaya Short Film victor, and Abi Aquino, winner of numerous Creative Guild and Lia Awards, the film challenges audiences to review their own state in life held starkly against the lives portrayed on-screen.

Namets, the Negrense word for yummy, truly is such- a delicious tale of romance brewing between Manuel (Christian Vasquez) and Lourdes (Angel Jacob) amidst the gently wafting smell of Negrense food. Director Jay Abello, a veteran of last year’s Cinemalaya, returns with this colorful and rollicking tale of love using the visceral element of food. Joined by Negrense celebrities such as Peque Gallage and Joel Torre, Namets leaves audiences craving for a little sweet indulgence and romance in their own lives.

A tale of environmental woe in Mindoro is told through the eyes of two children paid by illegal loggers to smuggle wood to the lowlands. As their clandestine journey on the river riding only on a river raft advances, their ignorance of the world’s crafty ways slowly fades away.
A world dictated by ideologies and materialism slowly unravels before them and they find their way of living and values tested. With musical direction by Filipino music legend, Joey Ayala, Director Tara Illenberger weaves a tale of socio-environmental consciousness set in the wilds of Mindoro leaving audiences wondering about their own compromises with regards to their way of life.

At some point in our lives, we are asked the question, “What would you do if you knew this was your last day on earth?” While others might answer with a scoff, the cancer-stricken young woman in 100 ruminates and sets about accomplishing her final tasks before Death brings down the curtains of her life. Top-billed by Mylene Dizon and supported by today’s most exciting performers- Eugene Domingo, Tessie Tomas, TJ Trinidad, Ryan Eigenmann, and Simon Ibarra among others- Cinemalay 2008’s Best Director Chris Martinez takes us through a journey of human mortality alternately joyful and heartbreaking.

Huling Pasada
Agot Isidro brings her dramatic prowess to fore as she plays Ruby, a prolific writer, abandoned wife, and mother to Gabriela, played by Sabrina Man. As she writes about a taxi driver playing father to a scruffy street rat within the metropolis’s concrete jungle, the line between reality and fiction blurs and her own story becomes hopelessly intertwined with that of her tale.

My Fake American Accent
Stonefree’s “On Hold” thumps and resonates in the background of this light-hearted comedic film as the lives of several Technical Support Call Center Agents ensconced in the Ortigas Business District unfold. Sporting pseudo-American accents, they indulge in 6 a.m. inuman sessions while battling irate Americans and carefully navigate their less-then-normal sleeping hours and personal lives.

In a small provincial Rizal jail, a knife in the kitchen goes missing and the lives of inmates Ricardo and Miyong irrevocably change. Ricardo and Miyong unknowingly spend an uneventful morning contemplating Ricardo’s plan upon the end of his jail sentence that day; little do they know that the innocuous loss of a kitchen knife later in the afternoon would overturn their lives and jeopardize Ricardo’s chances of freedom.

The music of the violin becomes a universal language, healing wounds and enabling teacher Ariel and student Onyok to recover their voices as human beings in Boses. Ariel, an accomplished violinist rediscovers his humanity while teaching Onyok, a mute seven-year old abused child in a shelter. Though the cathartic power of the music, a friendship blooms and real human interaction sans pretenses and traumas ensue. Unspoken emotions are powerfully revealed through the voice of the violin in this moving tale of healing woven by Executive Producer-Director Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil and Writers Froi Medina and Rody Vera.


wanderlust junkie said...

incidentally, Tara Illenberger's Brutus recently won best Asian Film at the recently concluded Brussels FilmFest. :-)

Carren said...

Wow! Thank you for the additional information :) And, such good news too!

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