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Terror and Eros in John Torres’s Todo Todo Teros (2006) September 6, 2007

Posted by Richard Bolisay in Asian Films, Indie Sine, Noypi.


Originally published in Digital Buryong on August 15, 2007.

Written and Directed by: John Torres
: Olga Aliseichyk, Bughaw Romana, Earl Drilon, Lav Diaz

Todo Todo Teros is groundbreaking.

John Torres’ reconstruction of filmic language soars with beauty and depth – – a magnificence so rare that seeing it evokes a sense of pride. This is the film that every one of us should be proud of. Its narrative voice is our own: the pain of living, the love we are all dying to regain, and the identity we lost for centuries. No other film can tackle malaise, terrorism, and political unrest in such a grand way than it did.

In a scene which I think is the film’s delusional take on the psyche of the Filipinos, Lav Diaz, Khavn, the narrator, and a woman inside a car are sharing stories about the Spanish occupation of the Philippines in the 16th century. Lav recounts the Pigafetta stories that he read, punched with impeccable wit and street humor, and babbles everything he remembers about the book. The other two continue in making side comments while the narrator, his mind far away with the memories he had with Olga, is silent.

As years pass by, we are getting passive. The pain is too much that we can no longer speak, as if the agony of our past flows in our blood. And the next line of generation has no escape.

Remarkably, Torres alludes to Jean-Luc Godard’s early works (particularly Pierrot le fou) without losing his individuality. The way he works on a collage of footage, writes an impressive script filled with painful verses of sublime poetry, and ends it unimaginably – – it is indeed one of the finest films that Philippine cinema has ever produced.

Simply beyond admiration. There’s so much to say about this film that I can’t even pick the right word, the right punctuation, the right argument. This is leftist déjà vu. * * * * *



1. dam-dam - September 17, 2007

huwawwwwwwwwwww…. wordpess na rin siya. patay na ba ang modang buryong?

kamukha ni pikoy yung nasa poster ng teros.

2. lilokpelikula - September 19, 2007

haha. onga kamukha ni juliuuuuuuuuus! nasan na ba si julius? oy hindi pa patay ang digital buryong. alive and kicking pa siya. hehe.

3. Alexis - September 24, 2007

Just a note Richard,
It’s Lav Diaz in the car who recounts the stories told in Pigafetta’s diaries, not Khavn. Khavn is driving and he speaks, but the bulk of the talking is done by Mr.Diaz.
I found this line quite interesting:
“As years pass by, we are getting passive. The pain is too much that we can no longer speak, as if the agony of our past flows in our blood. And the next line of generation has no escape.”
I was wondering what exactly you meant by “passive”, and in what way the “the next line of our generation has no escape”, as well as how all this relates to the film? Does Torres in the film represent “the next line of generation” or do you mean his future offspring?

4. lilokpelikula - September 26, 2007

Hi Alexis, sorry, my fault. Weird, that’s the scene I really, really adore in Todo Todo Teros and I even missed the details. Will have to edit the entry then. Thanks.

I believe we’re getting passive in such a way that most of us rarely involve ourselves in “customs and traditions” we used to do before. Or so to speak, we lost ourselves. But contrary to what other people think, there is still the unique “Filipino-ness” among us that are usually misrepresented by media and critics. Like every culture, we are changing, progressing, and improving. It is just so easy to say that we are degenerating as a nation, “bilang lahing Pilipino,” because poverty, corruption, and economic downfall are very much tangible to our senses, more so to our hungry minds. Also, we are so much burdened by our past that probably the mechanism we tend to follow is just to forget it. Our culture is damaged in such a way that it is self-inflicted, we caused its loss. But I am not feeling sorry about it. Or probably other people are not sorry about it. Or probably almost everyone. We don’t know. The ESCAPE THIS WAY –> sign is just too far from sight. Neither we want to escape nor escape is an issue after all.

As with Todo Todo Teros, the conclusions I made were just out of the metaphors he used. As I suppose you would also agree, he speaks indirectly about our fate, in fact the idea is so vague he’s like doing a collage or a mosaic without so much coherence in mind and voila! they all made sense. It impresses me because he is able to tackle a subject, in its past, presemt, and future, without blatant apprehension and didacticism. So somehow, TTT is also a futuristic film, a sad but honest foreshadowing. Damn pessimism.

Thanks for visiting, Alexis.

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