Flicks and Reruns: The "Finding Yourself" movies
I was invited to an intimate press meet-and-greet with the stars and the director of the movie “Mr and Mrs Cruz” last weekend at the 97.1 Halo Halo Radio station.
Written and directed by Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo, who helmed the monster hit “Kita Kita” Mr and Mrs Cruz stars JC Santos and Ryza Cenon both very promising film and TV stars. JC Santos starred as the stuttering Fidel opposite Bela Padilla in the blockbuster hit "100 Tula Para Kay Stella."
Ryza Cenon is known for her role as Georgina in the GMA afternoon teleserye “Ika-6 na Utos.” She is also well remembered for her role in the 2016 QCinema finalist “Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B.”
“The film is about love, marriage, commitment and finding myself” says JC Santos. Describing the film as different from other rom-coms because the narrative itself is unpredictable and exciting.
Direk Sigrid says the film was born after her trip to Palawan. “Nabakasyon ako dun, sobra ako natuwa, gusto ko magawa ng pelikula (I went on a vacation there, enjoyed so much, I wanted to make a film) about two persons finding themselves.” Says direk Sigrid.
She says after Kita Kita which was set in beautiful Sapporo Japan, direk Sigrid wanted to promote another destination this time in her own country, the current film showcasing the beauty of Puerto Princesa and El Nido in Palawan.
Ryza says the film is very relatable particularly those with dealing with their heartaches.
In the film Ryza plays Angela Cruz, a woman who leaves her husband and goes to Palawan for some soul-searching while JC essays the role of Raffy Cruz who was jilted by his fiancée on his wedding day, who also goes to Palawan to mend his broken heart. The two would eventually cross paths in the country’s last frontier.
Finding Yourself Flicks
Perhaps a millenialesque phenomenon where if one gets broken-hearted one would trail off to a strange beautiful land to escape one’s pain ultimately discovering oneself.
We have seen the success of “Kita Kita” the broken-hearted character of Empoy going to Sapporo or the recent MMFF entry “Siargao” Erich Gonzales playing another broken-hearted vlogger going to Siargao to discover herself. Then there’s another Alessandra de Rossi film “Sakaling Di Makakarating” another pained individual traipsing across the Philippine archipelago.
Other notable “finding-yourself” films include the KC Concepcion-Sam Milby starrer “Forever and a Day.” Where Milby a shoe designer escapes career failure by vacationing in Bukidnon where he meets the character of KC Concepcion. While in 2008’s Star Cinema flick “For The First Time” KC Concepcion escapes family problems and meets the playboy character of Richard Gutierrez in picturesque Santorini, Greece.
The common facet of these films would include characters getting themselves to some strange place far-away from their comfort zone, mostly urbanites going to picturesque countryside or post-card pretty foreign countries. Their primary motivation heartbreaks, family problems, career disappointments or ennui and stagnation.
Most of the characters particularly the newer films such as Siargao and Mr and Mrs Cruz are classified as millenials, this particular demographic extremely lucky that advances in mobility (advent of budget airlines, modern infrastructure such as roads and airports) peace and order and health (The Surigao provinces were known as insurgency strongholds in the 80s and 90s with Siargao and Surigao recently declared as insurgency-free, while Palawan in the past was notorious for malaria) have opened up new wonderful places for people to go.
Also the process of internalizing the locality's beauty and vibe which makes one ultimately forget their heartbreak draws in more with the millenial tourist's "experiential approach" where one would also interact with the local culture as seen in the movie Siargao where the character played by Erich Gonzales gets to interact and strike friendships with the locals.
As with the success of "That Thing Called Tadhana" which created a visitor frenzy to Sagada these films have taken on the task of being tourism marketing platforms for these places.
According to the 2017 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) "millenial" tourists (with the age group of 15-35 years old) constitutes 52% of domestic tourists in the country.
And also based from the Media Factbook (2012-2013) about 70% of the Filipino moviegoers are those ages 17-29 years old. Plus the films's heavy social media presence in the form of teasers and trailers also tend to attract the youth heavy Filipino social media population.
The increasing popularity of these films should entice local government units or regional Department of Tourism offices to come up with efforts to promote filmmaking and film production within their localities which is discussed in detail in my previous blog.
Anyways, are some of my favorite “finding-yourself” films where characters goes off to some strange land to heal, find something and subsequently find themselves and fall in love with someone they met there.
Langit sa Piling Mo (1997 starring G Toengi and Eric Quizon)
G Toengi goes to the United States to search for her long-lost father, there she meets the character of Eric Quizon who helps her in the search across the country. The film was inspired by Lotis Key’s (Eric’s mom) quest to find her father in the United States.
Kailangan Kita (2002 starring Aga Muhlach and Claudine Barreto)
Aga plays a hotshot chef in the United States who comes to Bicol to marry his Pinay model girlfriend in her hometown. While waiting for his fiancée to return to Bicol he meets his fiancee’s sister played by Claudine Barreto. The chef rediscovers his Filipino roots and subsequently falls in love with his fiance’s sister.
Minsan Pa (2004 starring Jomari Yllana and Ara Mina)
Jomari is Jerry a hardworking tour guide in Cebu being the family’s breadwinner. One of his clients is a comely young woman named Luna played by Ara Mina, in one of their trips Luna’s boyfriend (Christian Vasquez) follows her, the man proposes to Luna and they return to Manila. Luna then returns to Cebu heartbroken as her boyfriend has been blinded by an accident and withdraws the marriage proposal. Jerry falls for the conflicted Luna but his feelings are unreciprocated.
Close To You (2006, starring John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo) Bea Alonzo is Marian who has a huge crush on Lance (Sam Milby) her former Kindergarten savior now the lead singer of a popular international rock band Orion. When she learns Orion is visiting the country for a nationwide tour, she drags her bestfriend Manuel (John Lloyd Cruz) to join her quest of reconnecting with her crush, their adventures takes them to Davao City, Dumaguete, Bohol and Singapore.
The Arrival (2009, starring Dwight Gaston)
Known for his gritty realist drama films and horror flicks. Erik Matti also directed this charming light drama about Leo a middle-aged bookkeeper who keeps dreaming about a mysterious woman and a house facade. One day he sees the picture of the house in a barbershop where he learns is located in Murcia, Negros Occidental. Leo leaves his job and his home in Manila to go to Murcia hoping he could find the lady of his dreams there.
That Thing Called Tadhana (2014 starring JM de Guzman and Angelica Panganiban)
Mace (Angelica Panganiban) is a broken-hearted woman who meets Anthony (JM de Guzman) in an airport in Rome. Upon arrival in Manila the two decided to have lunch in a resto and both discover they are equally burdened by their failures and disappointments. During a drunken stupor in a karaoke bar they decide to take a trip to Baguio eventually going to breathtaking Sagada.