cinemalaya x


“Every shoe has its own story.”

A fan-made movie poster of one of this year’s New Breed Full-length films in Cinemalaya X, Maruquina; a film by Milo Sogueco, starring Mylene Dizon as Imelda.

This entry is one of my favorites alongside with Dagitab. It’s nostalgic, it’s cliche-free and it really just hits the spot. 

Kudos to the director!

Dagitab / "Sparks" (2014)

Drawn Like a Moth to a Flame

Director: Giancarlo Abrahan V
Writer: Giancarlo Abrahan V
Starring: Eula Valdez, Nonie Buencamino, Martin del Rosario

One could say that life is a candle and love is a flame. In youth, our light is bright. We burn strong with vigor and we love fervently. And when we love, our light shines twice as bright as two flames unite. But time passes by and the wick grows short. Sometimes, our flame flickers and the darkness slowly consumes us, putting a widening void between us and the ones we love. We start to feel alone, and in our fear of loneliness, wouldn’t we long for someone to ignite us once again?

In “Dagitab”, we see how this gnawing unhappiness can push two people apart as they both search for what can bring sparks back into their lives. After twenty years of marriage, Jimmy (Nonie Buencamino) and Issey Tolentino (Eula Valdez), both professors from the University of the Philippines, start to feel the distance growing between them. They remain a functional, affectionate couple, but they are slowly sinking into the lifelessness of their marriage. Perhaps it’s their tamed lifestyle lacking any adventure or the belief that they’ve “dropped out of life” that causes the strain in their relationship. Or maybe, it’s the unresolved frustrations and unfulfilled desires. Either way, they are both growing inward, consumed in their own loneliness and unmindful of the suffering of the other. So alone, they search for what can bring back their own happiness. Jimmy journeys off to the mountains for his lifetime research, in pursuit of a legend that may or may not be real. But in truth, he is tracing his footsteps back to the past. In the process, he opens up old wounds. Meanwhile, Issey, tired of putting her brain before her heart, finds rejuvenation in the arms of a young student Gab Atienza (Martin del Rosario). As one is obsessed with an old love and the other loses herself in a new one, they both try their hands at a life that could be (or could’ve been) theirs – one that is uninhibited and un-conscientious, a life without each other.

The film unfolds like a novel and every now and then, I feel like I am reading a book. With a 2-hour runtime, it takes its time to fully explore the characters’ emotions. The narrative is reasonably paced and never dragging but it maximizes the lonely sceneries and the long, deep conversations. “Dagitab” is effectively atmospheric. Its wonderful cinematography draws emotions of regrets, nostalgia, and desolation. It isn’t shy in using symbolisms and visual metaphors. The very first scene shows the face of a buried woman, her skin soft and white but covered with slithering worms. The story also introduces a supernatural element from the beginning, as Jimmy reveals that he is studying the legend of an “engkanto” (a nymph/deity) named Bulan. This may arguably be an unnecessary subplot but it is smoothly woven into the narrative and gives the film a transcendental, uniquely Filipino quality. But obviously, the film’s motif is fire. The element makes its appearance in different forms: from the sudden spark of a lighter, to the slow burning of coal, to a grand display of fireworks, to the dying ember of a cigarette, and finally, to the silent but surprising and beautiful glowing of the fireflies. These images mark the emotional changes the characters go through, reflecting the thoughts they protectively keep to themselves and from themselves.

“Dagitab” explores the complexities of relationships, poetically scrutinizing the different shades of loving and longing. Their gradations can be seen best in the breathtakingly captured and melancholic beach scene: Issey and Gab lying side by side on the sand as the waves of the sea hit the shore one after the other. Gab’s voice narrates his essay in the background, “she was somewhere between family and stranger.” This moment, which brings them so close together, somehow primarily depends on them being so far apart. While they had to “meet halfway” in a kind of love that “dances between rainfall and summer,” their tangential relationship is overshadowed by a greater void. For after the sun has set, a blazing, impassioned spark can only keep the darkness at bay for so long. 

Undeniably, the low-key acting is one of the finest points of the film. Seldom is pain and sadness portrayed with such restraint but compellingly. Nonie Buencamino and Eula Valdez convincingly portray a ‘normal’ marriage while still displaying their characters’ loneliness in their general lack of vigor, their fearfulness, and in the fleeting quality of their moments of happiness. They give life to two realistic but rarely seen characters in Philippine cinema – intelligent individuals who are rather articulate in expressing themselves to each other but are not quite in touch with their own fears and reservations. They make the story relatable and genuine by depicting a believable relationship where emotions are constantly being negotiated, where each one opens up and then holds back. 

Sincere and contemplative, watching “Dagitab” feels like reading a piece of literature. It is pensive and moving but never heavy, not forgetting to entertain with its heartfelt comedy. “Dagitab” reminds us how, in life and in love, we can be as fragile as little moths in the darkness. Like these tiny creatures, which in their solitude are drawn to the most promising flame, we yearn for that one dazzling spark. And in our wild impulses, we may come too close, hurting ourselves in the process. But sometimes, it’s the faintest light that keeps shining on. As Issey points out to Jimmy – who notices the fireflies gathering around them – “Nandyan lang naman yan. Hindi naman yan mawawala.” (It’s always been there. It never goes away.) As darkness settles, they remain still, perhaps letting a realization sink in: sometimes it’s the patient, placid kind of love that lasts. 


Enter the world of the late 19th century Philippines, a Spanish colony in Asia chained by the convoluted union of church and state, where a revolution is set to brew, where firebrands seething hot long for change in the status quo, and where women long to be educated, no longer wanting to be under the whims of religious superstition.

Known in Philippine history as “the Women of Malolos,” these women would not have been immortalized had it not been for the Ilustrados–educated Filipinos in Spain–particularly Marcelo H. Del Pilar, who convinced Jose Rizal to write an entire article in La Solidaridad, the Ilustrado’s news organ in Spain, in praise of the Filipina women who insisted on wanting to be educated and establishing a school. They went to great lengths, even bravely protesting when the Spanish friars (who wielded political power) convinced the Spanish governor-general to reject their request. This was completely unheard of in the Philippines, and I dare claim in Asia as well. For even in uncolonized parts of Asia, women were known to be relegated to the sidelines. In their persistence, these Filipina women won their case, being granted permission to study Spanish. Seeing this achievement, the Ilustrados saw them as inspiration in their campaign for Filipino equality in the Spanish royal court.

Which is why I’m so glad to promote this film that I’ll be able to watch in Cinemalaya X (I missed the show on ANC last May). I encourage everyone to buy tickets to this wonderful film. Aside from the great set design, regalias and music, the film is filled with history that makes us proud of our women. 

The film was produced and written by Nicanor Tiongson and directed by Sari and Kiri Dalena.

Just watch the trailer! See details below:

Date: Saturday, August 9, at 6:15PM
Venue: Dream Theater, Cultural Center of the Philippines 
Tickets @150 pesos. 
For tickets, call the CCP Box Office at (632)832-3704 
For inquiries please email


Hello guys! It’s been a while since I’ve said something here. 

As y'all know, last week was Cinemalaya’s 10th anniversary in hosting a prestigious indie film festival here in the Philippines. And as they celebrate it, comes a whole new line of full-length new breed films, and director’s showcase films as well as short features. 

The 1st poster attached along with this blogpost is one of the short films that belongs to a cluster of short films (Shorts A), Asan Si Lolo Mê? , a film directed by a UP graduate, Sari Estrada. I made this poster a while back while she was still doing her thesis in UP, and was surprised that it was one of the finalists for this year’s Cinemalaya; and finally, yesterday, it won the best short film.

I was lucky enough to have made two paintings/posters for two short films that were finalists for Cinemalaya X. One was entitled Mga Ligaw Na Paruparo, directed by J.E. Tiglao.(2nd poster).

Both were really really awesome films so props to the directors.

To have these two works hanged along the Cinemalaya poster gallery was already too much to handle. I was really freaking out to see these two beside each other so I took a “selfie”

External image

And yesterday, a news came to me saying that one of these two made it to the top 3 best posters for this year’s Cinemalaya X, my poster for Sari’s film, Asan Si Lolo Mê?



because it actually happened. My poster, a finalist and one of the top 3 best posters for Cinemalaya. I was too basic to handle the spaz. HAHAHA! I went rushing to my mom, ugly crying, telling her the news that I surprisingly made it as a finalist. Asintado got the prize for the best poster, but it didn’t matter because seeing my posters hanging on the walls of CCP is already something, and having one as a finalist is already gold for me. 

As i’ve tweeted yesterday, it’s a milestone in my freelance painting hobb. And I would like to give my thanks to the directors for trusting me with their movie posters. Thank you so much, you guys. God bless your beautiful, colorful, and cinematic souls. 


Cinemalaya X: Surreal / dream come true!

It’s my first time  to attend a Cinemalaya event at CCP, thanks to my friend Ernest for buying us tickets (in advance. because it’s sold out agad haha) for the gala night of #Y. :)

And I can’t explain my emotions really, I think I’m floating that time hahahaha. I was so happy because you know “fan girl”. hahahahaha It’s really a dream come true to see Benjamin Alves in person. Gusto kong sumigaw sa sobrang tuwa. Seryoso. Hahahahahaha 

With Benjamin Alves (Omgee. Love yeww), with Jacob Benedicto (he’s so cute in person!! Starstruck ako. hahaha) and Alex Medina (hihihi). I just have to cover my face because I look so haggard. Wahahahaha =))

The #Y team. Too bad I didn’t have the chance to take a picture with the cast, especially with Slater Young and Elmo Magalona. And Elmo is such a cutie and hottie, new crush ko na sya. hehehehehh =)

But yay… I have a picture with the Director of #Y! Huhuhu Gino M. Santos (my dream boy), so stunning!! <3 <3 Congratulations Direk Gino! I loved and enjoyed the film (superb), and I love you (present tense)! Hihihi :’)

Thanks so much Ernest and Abigail for making this Cinemalaya X experience possible! :)


&& I also want to watch 1st ko si 3rd and The Janitor and the Kasal, but the budget wouldn’t allow me to, and CCP is a bit far from here. huhu But I swear, next year I’ll try my best to attend and watch all the Indie films, Cinemalaya XI! And see you again soon, Direk Gino! ♥



A while ago at Trinoma with Mico (again) to watch another Cinemalaya movie entitled #Y featuring Elmo Magalona.

Pinakita kasi yung trailer ng #Y nung pinanuod namin yung Cinemalaya movie na “KASAL” last Friday and I instantly said to Mico that we’ll gonna watch that movie this Sunday kasi mukhang maganda. 

And hindi nga ako nagkamali, sobrang ganda nga nung movie. A really must-watch Filipino film indeed. But unfortunately, last screening na ng #Y kanina because till August 10 lang kasi ang Cinemalaya. Sad.

Lahat ng cast sa movie were really in character. Walang puchu-puchu na pag-acting. Especially Coleen Garcia from being sweet and sassy in Showtime to being a bitchy friend on this movie. Sobrang hot lang din nung Kit Thompson. Hehe. Wew.

Sa sobrang ganda ng movie, nagpalakpakan yung mga tao sa loob ng sinehan nung natapos (including me and Mico). Bihira lang mangyare ang ganun right? It just shows how great the movie is. 


New high tech café and lounge enhances the Cinemalaya experience

Guests of the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival and Competition can now view trailers of past Cinemalaya films using high-tech Sony touchscreen laptops, headsets, monitors and projectors at the Cinemalaya X lounge at the CCP Main Gallery (Bulwagang Juan Luna).

Cinemalaya, which is billed as Cinemalaya X and celebrating is 10th anniversary this year, is now ongoing at the CCP and Ayala Theaters at Greenbelt, Alabang Town Center, Trinoma and Fairview Terraces until
August 10, 2014.

The Cinemalaya X lounge at the CCP is a new feature of the Cinemalaya Film  Festival and Competition. It is a cafe-cum-viewing room where interactive multimedia displays will allow visitors to view trailers of close to 100 Cinemalaya films produced in the past ten years.

A special section of the area  will allow VIP’s to view the 2014 competition films on demand.

The Cinemalaya X Lounge offers coffee and treats from Gourmet Café. It was set up and designed by students of the Philippine School of Interior Design (PSID) using furniture from DTI-CITEM. Free wifi may also be enjoyed by visitors to the venue.

The Cinemalaya X lounge is sponsored by Sony, DTI-CITEM, PSID and Gourmet’s Café.

Quick Review: The Janitor

It follows the journey of an ex-policeman who was demoted due to an incident in his work.

Dennis Trillo plays a man who is starting up a family together with his pregnant wife and their soon-to-be son. 

He was placed to train security guards as a compensation from his superior. Following a bank robbery which took away ten lives, they were assigned to hunt the people involved in the crime. 

Meant to reflect the process of justice in the country, the film captured it well with a haunting effect. Making it more memorable are the means people are willing to take in order to make things in favor to them; even if it is to twist the truth.

This film might as well be a sign that there is still hope for the action genre in the local movie industry. The action sequences were almost at par with the films made by our neighboring countries such as The Raid. The story does not get left behind either as it was creatively established how one incident can affect the lives of people around.

When everything is at mess, there is nothing left to do but to fix it all up. It is after all, the task of The Janitor.

The Janitor is an entry in this year’s Cinemalaya. 


Cinemalaya X opening Salvo happen last Aug 01, 2014 at the main theater of CCP.

The Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival is a film festival in the Philippines held annually during the months of July and August at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Its aim is the development and promotion of Filipino independent films. The film festival is organized by the Cinemalaya Foundation, with the support of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and Econolink Investments, Inc.

Quick Review: 1st ko si 3rd

A story about a woman who has just retired from her work. Now that she has got all the time for herself and her husband, she has to find ways to take her mind off her daily routine. 

With it, she took time to pamper herself; get along with her friends; and rekindle an unrequited relationship with a boy from her teenage years. Now that she is in her prime and married to another man, she is conflicted with what she has now and what she could have been with.

A romantic tale which reminds us that first love never dies yet gives us a painful lesson that we can’t always get what we want.

Nova Villa and Dante Rivero perfectly embodied a happy, old couple who have endured both the happy and challenging times. Nova Villa is a pleasant surprise as I she detached herself from the usual roles that we see her on TV. From her struggle with technology, to her bittersweet farewell to her work, to every subtle look at her husband, and to every regret whenever she is reminded of Third- it’s all believable.

Love defies everything but not every story gets an ending. Some even takes a lifetime to get a closure.

1st ko si 3rd is an entry in this year’s Cinemalaya.