Punches with a Simple Message
Another film that I thought won’t appeal to me, but to my surprise—it did the opposite, and it’s Direk Maryo J. delos Reyes’s ‘Bamboo Flowers’. Having said that, I could dare say—it is one entry in the recently concluded Sineng Pambansa National Film Festival All-Masters Edition that is a must-see.
Aloy Adlawan beautifully crafted three stories that narrate the lives of various characters in the province of Bohol, as its main setting. Though in its simplicity—it did rock. De los Reyes’s work is not presented in a complicated manner; and it did combine commerciality and with deep sensibility.
The film opens with Ma’am Berta’s (Irma Adlawan) story, who pursued a simple lifestyle along the Abatan River, but is having a hard time due to her aging father’s (Spanky Manican) health conditions. She has a son named Omel (Ruru Madrid), who volunteered to work in Tagbilaran City to support the family’s growing expenses, particularly on his grand father’s medical needs.
The second story is about Sandra (Mylene Dizon) who decided to go back to the coastal town of Anda with her 10-year-old son Eric (Yogo Singh) in tow. Moving back to her hometown after the death of her husband—has further complicated her relationship with her son. Both were nursing the trauma from witnessing a suicide act.
And the third story revolves between the lovers—Dolores and Luis (Max Collin and Orlando Sol). Both dreamt of working abroad after they graduate in their respective studies—she as a tourism student and he as a nautical student. The lovers found themselves in a test. Luis couldn’t manage to graduate while Dolores met a foreigner who lured her to getting into marriage and promised her with a greener pasture.
Among the three sub-stories, I found the first one more relevant and realistic. The third one idealistic and the second as melodramatic.
Irma Adlawan and Spanky Manican performed their respective roles with great sensitivity. In fact, the young actor, Ruru Madrid gave a promising performance, too. Omel’s journey as one of the contestants in a talent-reality show titled ‘Protégé’ came as an easy platform for him to showcase his commercial appeal. Delos Reyes made me shed a tear in the scene where Omel bade goodbye to his grandfather. The lovers played by Max Collin and Orlando Sol were also outstanding. They all have their moments and even if the writer chose a ‘happy ending’ for them, which is actually the premise of the film—still it felt good to see them together in the end. The one with Mylene Dizon didn’t stand out. I felt Dizon’s acting weren’t given much highlight or I was just the one who couldn’t feel the struggles of the character[s] in this sub-story.
Direction-wise, Delos Reyes did well in painting a rural life in Bohol. Watching the film is like being there—experiencing first-hand the beauty that awaits the people who get to visit the said province. He was also effective in making a simple statement with his film—“When the flowers bloom, the bamboo dies.” It is liken to the passage in scriptures in the letter of Paul to Galatians (chapter 5: 22-23) and the gospel of Matthew (chapter 7:16a): “In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” and “By their fruits you will know them.”
Though treated in a secular way, Delos Reyes’s background did shine through as a former seminarian and punches with a simple message to his audience. He doesn’t mean to substitute what the priest[s] would do on Sunday homilies, but his film attempted to convey a more apt lesson—one can choose to live a simple, contented, but fulfilling life and leave behind an inspiring legacy to the next generation.