PEP Guide to Cinemalaya 2017

by Jocelyn Dimaculangan
Aug 4, 2017
Cinemalaya 2017 will run from August 4 to 13, 2017 at the CCP and Ayala Malls cinemas. The entries are (top row, L-R) Ang Guro Kong Di Marunong Magbasa, Ang Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha, Baconaua, Bagahe, (bottom row, L-R) Nabubulok, Kiko Boksingero, Requited, Respeto and Sa Gabing Nanahimik ang mga Kuliglig.

For the 13th edition of the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, moviegoers will get to see a diverse lineup of films adhering to this year's theme: "See the Big Picture."

Cinemalaya 2017 will run from August 4 to 13, 2017 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and Ayala Malls cinemas namely Greenbelt 1 (Cinema 1 and Cinema 2), Glorietta 4 (Cinema 4), UP Town Center (Cinema 3), TriNoma (Cinema 1), Fairview Terraces (Cinema 1), and Marquee Mall in Pampanga.

During the grand launch of the official entries held at the CCP, Cinemalaya Foundation President Laurice Guillen pointed out that they have remained true to its vision: to discover, encourage and support the cinematic works of upcoming and veteran Filipino filmmakers who boldly articulate and freely interpret the Philippine experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity.

The veteran director said in her speech, "We continue to do our share to discover and nurture the new breed of filmmakers through the competition process and through the Cinemalaya Institute."

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Cinemalaya 2017 will screen 9 full-length films:

Ang Guro Kong Di Marunong Magbasa (My Teacher Who Doesn’t Know How To Read) by Perry Escaño
Ang Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha (The Family That Doesn't Weep) by Mes de Guzman
Baconaua by Joseph Israel Laban
Bagahe (The Baggage) by Zig Dulay
Nabubulok (The Decaying) by Sonny Calvento
Kiko Boksingero by Thop Nazareno
Requited by Nerissa Picadizo
Respeto by Treb Monteras II
Sa Gabing Nanahimik ang mga Kuliglig by Iar Lionel Benjamin Arondaing (Philippine Entertainment Portal) reported last June 20 that director Cenon Obispo Palomares withdrew his entry titled Unang Patak Ng Ulan Sa Buwan Ng Mayo. It was supposed to be topbilled by Rosanna Roces.

(Read: Cinemalaya 2017 loses one entry starring Rosanna Roces)

Unlike past editions, Cinemalaya 2017 features 12 short films instead of the usual ten. They are:

Aliens Ata (Maybe Aliens) by Karl Glenn Barit
Bawod (Bent) by TM Malones
Fatima Marie Torres and the Invasion of Space Shuttle Pinas 25 by Carlo Francisco Manatad
Hilom (Still) by PR Patindol
Islabodan (Free Men) by Juan Carlo Tarobal
Juana and the Sacred Shores by Antonne Santiago
Lola Loleng (Grandma Loleng) by Jean Cheryl Tagyamon
Manong ng Pa-aling (Man of Pa-Aling) by E del Mundo
Maria by Jaime Habac Jr
Nakauwi Na by Marvin Cabangunay and Jaynus Olaivar
Nakaw by Arvin Belarmino and Noel Escondo
Sorry For The Inconvenience by Carl Adrian Chavez

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To date, Cinemalaya has supported and promoted the production of 127 full feature independent films and 106 short films. Many of these films have won awards in local and international competitions and festivals. Through the annual festival, Cinemalaya has showcased over 1,000 works by independent filmmakers including full feature films, shorts, documentaries, Filipino film classics, and art films.

The opening film for Cinemalaya 2017 is the coming-of-age thriller Birdshot. It will be shown this Friday, August 4, at the CCP Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater). It will be screened at 7 p.m., following the opening rites at 6 p.m.

Birdshot tells the story of a young farm girl who wanders off into a Philippine forest reserve. Deep within the reservation, she mistakenly shoots and kills a critically-endangered and protected Philippine Eagle. As the local authorities begin a manhunt to track down the poacher, their investigation leads them to an even more horrific discovery.

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The mystery-drama film won Best Picture in the Asian Future category of the 2016 Tokyo International Film Festival.

The ten-day film fest will showcase Best of the Festivals (best films from other local film festivals), Visions of Asia (featuring Asian and Netpac-winning films), Indie Nation (a special section featuring independent films), Dokyu (documentaries), Animahenasyon (showcasing best animation), Cinemalaya Institute showcase, Digital Classics, and Retrospective (winning films in the full-length and short film categories of Cinemalaya 2016).

There will be tributes to legendary actress Lolita Rodriguez (who died in 2016) and director Gil Portes (who passed away in May 2017).

To honor Lolita, there will be film screenings of Lino Brocka's Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang and Ina, Kapatid, Anak as well as Mel Chionglo's Lucia.

There will also be a special screening of three of Direk Gil's films: Mulanay, Two Funerals, and Mga Munting Tinig.

The Cinemalaya Campus, a major component of the Festival, will happen during the festival, while the Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video, considered the longest-running independent film competition of its kind in the ASEAN/Asian region, will harvest the best of the best, with films competing in various categories. Pre-selected entries will be screened on August 5 to 7.

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The Cinemalaya Awards Night is scheduled to take place on August 13, 2017, at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater).

For the screening schedule of Cinemalaya 2017, visit:

Here is the PEP Guide to the full-length feature category of Cinemalaya 2017:

1. Ang Guro Kong Di Marunong Magbasa (My Teacher Who Doesn’t Know How To Read)

Writer-Director: Perry Escaño

SYNOPSIS: Set in a barrio in southwestern Mindanao, the film tells about a farmer named Aaquil (Alfred Vargas) who became the educator in their community even though he is illiterate himself. One day, he heads to the city and fails to return. His students then decide to join a rebel organization and learn to become skilled warriors.

CAST: Alfred Vargas, Miggs Cuaderno, Marc Justine Alvarez, Micko Laurente, Lou Veloso, Mon Confiado, James Blanco, Loren Burgos, Kiko Matos, Marife Necesito, Ernie Garcia, Bon Andrew Lentejas, Paul Sy, Alvin Barcelona, Garrie Concepcion, Lianne Valentino, Richard Manabat and Joana Marie Tan

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Director Perry Escaño said about his film: "Ang universal theme ng pelikula namin ay tungkol sa edukasyon. Ito ay makabagong kuwento na tina-tackle ang child exploitation and slavery and at the same time, illiteracy. Twenty to thirty percent na miyembro ng rebel forces ay children na edad 8-18 years old.

"Nai-involve sila sa extortion, terrorism at kidnapping. Nung ginawa ko ang pelikula na ito, sana makita ng ating mga liders, para ma-stop ang cycle ng mga child warriors at mabigyan sila ng pag-asa dahil ang mga kabataan na ito ay dapat nasa eskuwelahan at dapat may hawak na libro, at hindi dapat humawak ng baril."

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2. Ang Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha (The Family That Doesn't Weep)

Writer-Director: Mes de Guzman

SYNOPSIS: Cora searches for the “the family that doesn’t weep,” which people believe has the superpower to bring back lost loved ones. Utilizing all her resources, time and wealth, Cora is desperate to complete her broken family at all costs.

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CAST: Sharon Cuneta, Niño Muhlach, Moi Bien, Kiko Matos, Flor Salanga, Joe Gruta, Cris Villanueva, Richard Quan, Michelle Vito, Philip Olayvar, Alonzo Muhlach

Director Mes de Guzman disclosed, "Ito ay tungkol sa babae na naghahanap ng pagmamahal, pagkalinga. Tungkol rin ito sa isang bayan kung saan may mga mito o paniniwala na atin bang paniniwalaan? Isinulat ko po ito para kay Sharon Cuneta."

3. Baconaua

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Director: Joseph Israel Laban
Written by Denise O’Hara and Joseph Israel Laban

SYNOPSIS: In a sleepy island village in Southern Tagalog lives a young lass, Divina (Elora Españo), who mulls whether to have her father officially declared dead after missing at sea three months ago amidst the mysticism and realities happening around her.

After a particularly strong squall, the villagers wake up to an astonishing sight--their sea has turned red. Floating on their waters are thousands of apples. No one knows where they came from. Some suspect this is a bad omen from the baconaua--a creature of myth. Few believe it to be a miracle from heaven, while others fear a more sinister source.

CAST: Elora Españo as Divina; Therese Malvar as Dian; JM Salvado as Dino; Jess Mendoza as Pol; Ron Lord as Li Yiquan; Isaac Cain Aguire as Loloy; Anna Luna as Nica; Erlinda Villalobos as Aling Lora; Bon Andrew Lentejas as Caloy; Bembol Rocco as Mang Danny; Jeric Raval as Col. Abdullah; Suzette Ranillo as Mengga

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"Ang Baconaua ay inspired ng memory nung bata pa ako," admitted director Joseph Israel Laban. "Tumutok ako sa 3 magkakapatid. It's essentially a coming-of-age drama and how they deal sa mga problems nila."

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4. Bagahe (The Baggage)

Writer-Director: Zig Dulay

SYNOPSIS: Bagahe explores the life of an OFW, named Mercy, who is suspected of abandoning a newborn child in a trash bin of an airplane toilet. The film shows what happens to her while being investigated.

CAST: Angeli Bayani, Arnold Reyes, Shamaine Buencamino, Boots Anson Roa, Racquel Villavicencio, Bing Pimentel, Sue Prado, Matt Daclan, Chanel Latorre, Natiliegh Sitoy, Menggie Cobarrubias, Erlinda Villalobos, Alvin Nakassi

Zig Dulay summed up his film by saying, "Ito ay tungkol sa OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) na sumailalim sa isang imbestigasyon na hinahanap ang babaeng naghulog ng sanggol sa basurahan sa loob ng eroplano.

"Sa kasagsagan ng imbestigasyon, dun natin malalaman ang katotohanan tungkol sa kung anong klaseng ina ang babaeng naghulog ng sariling anak at sa kabilang banda, kung paano rin naging ina ang mga social institutions na dinaanan niya."

5. Nabubulok (The Decaying)

Writer-Director: Sonny Calvento

SYNOPSIS: Luna (Sue Prado) goes missing. Jason Harper (Billy Ray Gallion), her American husband, is suspected of killing her. As Jason intends to leave the country, circumstances conspire to avert his plan.

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CAST: Gina Alajar as Ingrid, JC Santos as Rommel, Jameson Blake as Paul, Elaine Yu as Leni, Lito Pimentel as Albert, Jerom Canlas as Rocky, Sue Prado as Luna, Krystal Mejes as April, Dannah Cardoza as Ann, Jojo Riguerra as Benjie, Lao Rodriguez as Roel, Raul Morit as Kapitan, Billy Ray Gallion as Jason

Director Sonny Calvento explains: "Ang Nabubulok ay naka-sentro sa pagkawala ni Luna Harper [Sue Prado]. Ito ay isang story kung paano nag-react ang community sa first time nilang na-encounter na krimen sa town nila."

He told that his suspense thriller is based on a true story.

"It happened to a colleague from ABS-CBN. It happened to his relatives in Antique ten years ago.

"Pero sa story ko, inadjust ko na para mas modern."

Hollywood actor Billy Ray Gallion is best known as Randy Nations in the U.S. series Lost. He is cast as the father of the character of Jameson Blake in Nabubulok.

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6. Kiko Boksingero

Director: Thop Nazareno
Writers: Denise O’Hara, Ash Malanum, Heber Justin O’Hara and Emmanuel Espejo Jr.

SYNOPSIS: After the death of his mother, the 11-year-old Kiko was left alone with his nanny Diday and tries to reconnect with his estranged father George, a has-been boxer. Filling the gap of the time lost, the father and son bonds through their shared love for boxing.

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CAST: Noel Comia Jr., Yul Servo, and Yayo Aguila

Thop Nazareno described his movie by saying, "Ito ay istorya ni Kiko na naiwan sa kanyang yaya dahil namatay ang kanyang ina. Sa panahon ng kanyang pangungulila at kalungkutan ay hahanapin niya ang kanyang ama na hindi niya nakilala. Nang makita niya ito, sa proseso na ito ay makilala nila ang isa't isa."

It will be recalled that Noel Comia Jr. joined The Voice Kids Season 3.

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7. Requited

Writer-Director: Nerissa Picadizo

SYNOPSIS: A dramatic biking love story with splashes of adventure, Requited is about Matt (Jake Cuenca), a disease-stricken biker who wants to conquer a treacherous terrain on one final adventure that pitted him against nature and Sandy (Anna Luna), the woman he desires.

CAST: Jake Cuenca, Anna Luna, Richard Quan, Rommel Luna, Anne Marzan

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Director Nerissa Picadizo narrated, "It's a story about a man with Parkinson's disease but he wants to journey from Manila to Mt. Pinatubo despite his situation. In his biking journey, Sandy (Anna Luna) insisted on coming along that complicates Matt's last plan as their five-year unrequited relationship unfolds.

"Very special itong film na ito coz it's a personal story. When I was writing it, there was one actor who kept popping in my mind: it has to be Jake Cuenca."

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8. Respeto

Director: Treb Monteras II
Writers: Njel de Mesa and Alberto Monteras II

SYNOPSIS: An amateur young hiphop rapper named Hendrix and a grumpy veteran poet named Doc cross paths during a stand-off between riot police and squatters. Both are compelled to interact and deal with each other’s problems, healing the wounds of the past and having a new perspective on writing their respective verses.

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CAST: Abra as Hendrix, Dido de la Paz as Doc, Loonie as Breezy G, Chai Fonacier as Betchai, Sylvester as Payaso; Nor Domingo as Fuentes, Kate Alejandrino as Candy, Brian Arda as Mando, Thea Ystaroza as Connie

Director Treb Monteras II described his film by pointing out: "Ito ay tungkol sa isang binatilyong rapper na naging drug runner. Magbabago ang buhay niya nang ma-meet niya ang isang beteranong makata na si Doc."

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9. Sa Gabing Nanahimik ang mga Kuliglig

Writer-Director: Iar Lionel Benjamin Arondaing


The film is about a priest and an altar boy who are at a crossroads after a woman confesses to killing her friend due to marital jealousy. Though bound by the unbreakable vow of the Seal of the Confessional, they are also haunted by their conscience to seek justice for the murdered woman. Meanwhile, the murderer is also torn whether to surrender herself to the authorities or not.

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CAST: Angel Aquino as Magda, Jake Macapagal as Fr. Romy, Jess Mendoza as Lester, Anthony Falcon as Rene, Ricky Davao as Hector, Sam Quintana as Nonoy, Mercedes Cabral as Dolores, Mark Dionisio as Victor

Director Iar Lionel Benjamin Arondaing said simply, "Ang pelikula ay tungkol sa isang kumpisal. Dahil sa kumpisal na ito, nahahati ang estado at relihiyon."


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Cinemalaya 2017 will run from August 4 to 13, 2017 at the CCP and Ayala Malls cinemas. The entries are (top row, L-R) Ang Guro Kong Di Marunong Magbasa, Ang Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha, Baconaua, Bagahe, (bottom row, L-R) Nabubulok, Kiko Boksingero, Requited, Respeto and Sa Gabing Nanahimik ang mga Kuliglig.
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