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Ignorance is bliss in Brillante Mendoza’s Manoro (2006) September 5, 2007

Posted by Richard Bolisay in Asian Films, Cinemalaya, Noypi.
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Originally published in Digital Buryong on July 30, 2007

English Title: The Aeta Teacher
Director: Brillante Mendoza
Cast: Jonalyn Ablong and the Aeta community in Angeles, Pampanga
Editor:
Charliebebs Gohetia

The hustle and bustle of city life makes us forget the significant things right in our fingertips. Most of us, urban dwellers, are clamoring about how undeserving we are of the presidential candidates during the 2004 Elections and the manipulation of news stories from various media sources. But apparently, we are just thinking about ourselves. While we are having a hard time in choosing which animal to vote, some people don’t even know how to read and write.

Sentimental? Preachy? Yes.

That’s what this film is not about. Steering away from didacticism, Manoro succeeds in roughly presenting a story full of nuances without losing its purest intention. The film does not avoid sentimentality — actually, it needs it. But as Jonalyn’s day unfolds and the people in her community needs her liitle know-how to write the candidate whom they wish to vote or whether voting is even necessary at all, sentimentality is vested into our hands as an audience. Behind its simplicity, Manoro is a statement of aversion — to both our political system and our almost-dying-but-thank-god-it-was-saved film industry in general — a feat rarely achieved by most independent and “indie-indiehan” movies made in the last few years.

If Brillante Mendoza aims to present an Aeta community in Angeles, Pampanga the way it is, then whoever said that filmmaking is a herculean task for a neophyte? * * * *

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