Thursday, May 20, 2010

amBisyon 2010: Population / Health (Da More Da Meniyer by Erik Matti / Hindi Ako Makatulog ‘Pag Wala Ka Sa Tabi Ko by Jade Castro)

The results of the May 10 automated elections reveal that there is no such thing as a ‘Catholic vote.’ The Catholic Church exhorted its flock to shun candidates who favor the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill. Six bishops supported presidential candidate JC de los Reyes but he ended up with the fewest votes. Another presidential candidate who rejected the controversial bill is Manny Villar. The latter was relegated to a distant third place after being a frontrunner in the early months of 2010.

‘President-in-waiting’ Benigno Aquino III was once a firm supporter of the RH bill. He has since modified his stance to ‘responsible parenthood.’ While Erik Matti’s short film takes a swipe at the Catholic Church’s pro-life stand, the film really zooms in on poor stewardship and irresponsible parenthood.

Matti retells the story of Adam and Eve in a paradisiacal place. The couple ends up being guardians of the Garden of Eden. After Adam’s sexual overture gets rejected by Eve, the horny man takes his case to God. The latter reminds the pair of the commandment to ‘go out and multiply.’ The proliferation of humans takes its toll on food resources.

Whatever your take on the effects of a bloated population on the economy, the well-directed film is a campy, entertaining thing to watch. Part of the fun is seeing Richard Somes as Adam. He is hilarious in the scene showing him ranting against his kids who had devoured leftovers. I also loved the animation scenes incorporated in this low-budget film.

The nation’s health budget is the topic of Jade Castro’s short film. During the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo there was a drop in the budget allotted to health care.

A male call center agent narrates how the lack of health care insurance affects him and his fellow agents. He casually reveals that lots of sex couplings do happen in the call center industry. The stress of working late nights weakens the immune system of employees. A sizable chunk of their salaries goes to purchasing high-priced medicines.

Filmmaker Castro takes a look at possible alternatives to buying expensive medicines at well-known drugstores. There is a growing network of small drugstores offering cheaper medicines. And, if the prices are still too exorbitant for the poor, then Castro subtly suggests people to start growing medicinal plants and herbs at their backyards.

I’m not a big fan of voiceovers but this film does a neat voiceover job. It helps that the voice seems to belong to a friendly male who loved his grandmother.

Friday, May 7, 2010

amBisyon 2010: PSG Pandesal Sardinas Gatas by Jon Red

One of the great things done by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is ordering the renovation of the Malacañan Museum. The ornate museum contains memorabilia of all 14 presidents of the Philippines and showcases art pieces by National Artists such as Guillermo Tolentino and Fernando Amorsolo.

I joined a walking tour of the museum last month. The first few minutes bolstered my preconceived notions of uber-strict members of the Presidential Security Guard (PSG) unit. Owing to my proletarian countenance, I was accosted by a PSG member at the Mendiola gate. He asked me what are my plans in the Malacañan Palace complex. They let me through and I asked another PSG member for instructions on reaching a certain street. I was surprised when he told me to hop onboard his motorcycle and proceeded to take me to my destination. That bit of kindness completely changed my views of PSG people. Mababait naman pala sila. Hindi pala sila mga robot.

Jon Red’s excellent short film is memorable for showing a PSG member in a different light. Lucas is not just any character; he is one of the guys I’ve seen at the Malacañan Palace compound. These are the guys who are tasked with a thankless job. But, despite that, they still care for their fellow Filipinos and country.

The film begins with Lucas telling the story of a child snatcher coddled by a guardian cop. He remarks that the cop should be held accountable for the bad behavior of the child. He adds that people in power and authority doesn’t need to be the best and the brightest. The only requirement is they should not turn a blind eye on evil things.

The beautiful camerawork by Larry Manda captures the mouth-watering breakfast of Lucas. The food is a far cry from the simple fare he eats in his childhood days. ‘That is part of progress,’ says his companion Chef Punsal. Everybody changes for the better. The definition of progress gets a bit of a tweaking from Lucas when applied to the country’s economic growth. The country is indeed moving forward…but towards a pit.

The best political swipe in the film is at the end when the identity of Lucas’ boss is laid bare. Chef Punsal reminds him to take care of their boss. In a nicely executed scene, Nonie Buencamino brings out the conflicting emotions felt by Lucas with regards his job. Lucas insouciantly says ‘Kailangang bantayan.’ The glazy eyes, hunched shoulders, and bowed head reflect resignation from the PSG member.

Kailangang bantayan. Those two words are perfect advice to Filipinos trooping to voting precincts next week. We need to be alert and thwart any evil schemes of politicians. In 2004, scores of people kept vigil at the precinct levels. All their hardships and sacrifices were obliterated because of a mere illicit telephone call by the President.

Let’s do our bit in ensuring a clean and transparent automated election. I’m still hopeful that a clean and honest May 10, 2010 election will be one of the best legacies of the Arroyo administration.

The television screenings of amBisyon 2010 were abruptly halted because of censorship. The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board earlier gave X ratings to two short films. Television episodes containing these X-rated films were subsequently deemed unfit for public viewing.