flicks and reruns: Tambara


Tambara is an adaptation of Macario Tiu’s Balyan, the 2005 1st Place winner for Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Short Story Bisaya Division.

The story revolves around Lando, an elementary teacher who doesn’t believe in myths and asserts his modern sensibilities, and Datu Pikong, a tribal shaman who uses an imaginary cellphone to reach Apo Sandawa when someone wants to get healed from an ailment.

Lando, being educated, has ceased to acknowledge the tribal beliefs and practices of the Indigenous Peoples. He accuses Datu Pikong of capitalizing on the superstitious belief of the townsfolk and is furious when he sees the shaman take offerings from the people.

Swept by his fury, Lando destroys the tambara (an altar for the deities) when he found it under a Balete tree. Unknowingly, Lando angered many diwatas who want to take his wife and baby as punishment for what he has done. Lando was forced to face circumstances which pushed him to desperately resort to the Balyan only to realize that not everything in this world can be spelled solely with the human knowledge.

In his second full-length feature film after 2010's Mananabang, Orvil Bantayan gets to expand his cinematic vision with a bigger budget (funding grant of about P600,000 from the Film Development Council of the Philippines plus additional support from generous sponsors) in Tambara.

This is evident in the production design of the film, the chapel construction, the bigger crowd scenes the more authentic sets, props, more personnel etc allowing the filmmaker to play more with the film.

The conflict between indigenous sensibilities and modernity has been played out in this movie with a much consistent focus. It does not taper off or wander along other sub-plots as Mr. Bantayan has grounded his film along a straight point threshing out the resolution of the conflict.

It is helped by the fact that the drama of the conflict has been played without too much histrionics or melodramatic flourish nor the pretentiousness of an ambitious indie film. Tambara's main strength is that it is told in a straight-forward manner, easy to digest, easy to understand. sort of  an easy-watching indie film. 

Now if Orvil will make his third film I suggest he focuses on choosing the right actors for their suitable roles. The role of Lando essayed by Paul Carreon seemed too pedestrian for comfort. The pivotal confrontation scenes lacked the emotional power which could have elevated Tambara into the pantheons of great indie films, considering it has such a promising material.

Paul Carreon, was once a member of a community-based
theater group.
Paul Carreon is in some regards a competent actor but I think he was miscasted in his role as Lando. Greg Tecson, the Cebuano actor who gained acclaim for his role in 2010 CinemaOne Best Picture winner Ang Damgo ni Eleuteria, manages to flesh out his spot as Datu Pikong, the Bagobo shaman. But in Damgo... Greg was able to feed from the electrifying performance of Donna Jimeno, in Tambara he was left to his own devices, much of the climax was a little bit underplayed.

Cebuano actor Greg Tecson
Former Mutya ng Dabaw Joan Magtibay gives a much nuanced performance as Lando's wife, her performance provides much promise that I believe she can clinch a role in future indie films being produced here in the city, so are the likes of Sheila Labos,  Roweno Caballes and also Paul Carreon I will not be surprised if I see them in some indie films in the near future.

1998 Mutya ng Dabaw Joan Magtibay                                                                  
In sum, Tambara will not be your groundbreaking seminal indie movie,  But it is a good film,  its highly-focused driven narrative is easy-to-watch and easy-to-like. A noteworthy evolution of a Dabawenyo filmmaker named Orvil Bantayan. 

Tambara is part of the National Film Festival (Sineng Pambansa) part of the 18 films in competition. It would have a theatrical run this June 29- July 1. It would be shown on the cinemas of the following malls; NCCC Mall, Abreeza, Gaisano Mall and SM City Davao. Please do watch this film and also other films in the festival. 


  1. love the synopsis. will keep the date in mind. thanks for sharing!


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