If there’s one film that truly proves that the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival roster is nothing like the usual fare we’ve been programmed to get, it’s Sunday Beauty Queen.
First of all, it’s a documentary, the only entry in this format. That means there are no actors, no script, and no stylized production design. It’s as raw as you can get.
Secondly, it tackles and fuses seamlessly in sincere storytelling two major passion points of Filipinos worldwide: (1) self-sacrifice for the family, and (2) beauty pageants.
It follows the lives of several Filipina domestic helpers in Hong Kong who work 6 full days a week. Each one has her own story to tell. But it’s not your typical OFW sob story.
Director Baby Ruth Villarama’s ode to her mother who was once a domestic helper herself, is an expose about the struggles, pains, and issues our hardworking kababayans continue to experience there. But beyond what many other OFW-themed movies have already told and retold, this film lets us in on a very different side of their lives in Hong Kong—the glittery world of pageantry.
The beauty pageant, which is staged during Sundays—their day off—becomes a spectacular backdrop to each of the characters’ unique stories.
This MMFF 2016 entry provides the excitement and humor that sustain and engage the audience, and more importantly, a great counterpoint to the melodramatic, even depressing realities the characters face offstage.
Villarama also masterfully parallels the characters’ struggles to win in the beauty pageant to their struggles to win in life for their families back home. It is a testament to how dauntless the Filipino is and how much he/she is willing to give to achieve his/her goals. And as we see it unfold before our eyes, we can’t help but be endeared with the characters.
Despite getting just a peek at how they live their lives as OFWs abroad, it’s hard not to develop an instant affinity with them.
That’s what’s great about Sunday Beauty Queen. It doesn’t preach. It simply humanizes a very familiar issue in a heartfelt and sincere way that is able to connect to our core. You don’t have to be an OFW or have a family member who’s one for you to feel what the movie is all about.
In the end, it’s really about hope, that in whatever adversity, the Filipino spirit will prevail beautiful and strong. And during these trying times, that’s the kind of inspiration our country most certainly needs.
Sunday Beauty Queen is definitely a must-watch for lovers of pageants, lovers of Hong Kong, OFW families, and everyone who believes that we deserve real quality movies during the MMFF.
Ed's Note: The 'PEP Review' section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial team.