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Vilma Santos as Josie
Claudine Barretto as Carla Baron Geisler as Michael Sheila Mae Alvero as Daday Joel Torre as Rudy Amy Austria Cherry Pie Picache E. Star Cinema Prod. Inc., F. 135 minutes
mo napapansin Nagsisisi at sa isip mo'y Nalaman mong ika'y nagkamali Nagsisisi at sa isip mo'y Nalaman mong ika'y nagkamali Nagsisisi at sa isip mo'y Nalaman mong ika'y nagkamali
Noong isilang ka sa mundong ito Laking tuwa ng magulang mo At ang kamay nila ang iyong ilaw
At ang nanay at tatay mo'y
Di malaman ang gagawin Minamasdan pati pagtulog mo At sa gabi'y napupuyat ang iyong nanay Sa pagtimpla ng gatas mo At sa umaga nama'y kalong ka Ng iyong amang tuwang-tuwa sa iyo Ngayon nga ay malaki ka na Nais mo'y maging malaya Di man sila payag Walang magagawa Ikaw nga ay biglang nagbago Naging matigas ang iyong ulo At ang payo nila'y sinuway mo Di mo man lang inisip na Ang kanilang ginagawa'y para sa iyo Pagkat ang nais mo'y Masunod ang layaw mo Di mo sila pinapansin Nagdaan pa ang mga araw At ang landas mo'y naligaw Ikaw ay nalulong sa masamang bisyo At ang una mong nilapitan Ang iyong inang lumuluha At ang tanong,"anak, ba't ka nagkaganyan" At ang iyong mata'y biglang lumuha ng di
This movie tells the story of Josie who works as a DH (i.e., domestic helper) in Hong Kong. If Filipino dramas are to be judged by the amount of tears shed by the various actors during the performance and by the amount of tears which are expected to be shed by the audience, then this movie can be rated in the five gallon plus category. There is plenty of crying to go around in this movie and most of the actors and actresses get the chance to show off their crying prowess. All this sentimentality is likely to appeal more to Filipino audiences than to American audiences. The film is entirely in Tagalog and English speakers will not understand much of the movie. Nevertheless, there is enough physical action and body language in the movie so that an English speaker can get the basic gist of the plot. I was also assisted by my trusty interpreter (i.e., my wife) who translated some of the more emotional scenes for me. The story begins with the return of Josie to her native land, the Philippines. She has been away in Hong Kong for many years. Josie is middle aged and she has three children. The oldest is her daughter Carla who is a college student. The next is her son Michael who is a high school student. The youngest is the daughter Daday who is in grade school. Michael and Daday arrive at the airport to greet Josie, but she has been away so long that she doesn't even recognize them. She is introduced to them by a longtime family friend. Michael is quite shy to meet his mother. Daday was so young when her mother left that she doesn't even remember her mother.
They return to the family house, which is quite nice by Filipino standards. Friends and neighbors have gathered to hear all about Josie's life in Hong Kong and to receive the obligatory gifts which they know are coming. Michael and Daday don't know how to behave around this seeming stranger. When Josie gives Michael some athletic wear for basketball he informs her that he doesn't even play basketball. Josie is completely out of touch with the lives of her children. Later that night Carla arrives home and gives her mother an icy stare. The stage is set for the remainder of the movie, which centers around the escalating conflict between Josie and her oldest daughter Carla. The other two children at least tolerate Josie's presence but Carla has a deepseated hatred of her mother. The movie employs many flashback scenes where we learn the reason why Josie went to Hong Kong in the first place (her husband Rudy had worked in Taiwan but he became so homesick that he came back to the Philippines; somebody had to earn the money for the family and so the burden fell to Josie). There are a few scenes detailing Josie's life in Hong Kong which turns out to be a living Hell. She works as a domestic helper (i.e., maid) for a wealthy Chinese family (apparently the Chinese have replaced the British as the Brahmins of Hong Kong). She cleans house, cooks for the family, and takes care of the infant son of the Chinese parents. The Chinese family treats Josie as they would a family pet, or perhaps worse. One flashback has Josie calling Carla for Carla's birthday. But just when Carla picks up the phone the Chinese family arrives home and Josie hangs up immediately. She
doesn't want to get into trouble for making a long distance phone call. Another flashback shows the Chinese family leaving on vacation. They take Josie's passport and lock her in the house for two weeks so she won't run away. Although she has enough food to last her until they return she is a virtual prisoner in the house. One wonders if these scenes are exaggerations or if they actually occur in real life. Josie has been careful not to reveal her terrible life in Hong Kong to her family. The salary that she earns as a DH goes to supporting a middle class lifestyle for her family. The family lives in a nice house with plenty of good food. The kids attend private schools. All of this is paid for by Josie slaving away in Hong Kong for a Chinese boss who treats her like a dog. But Carla knows nothing of this. To Carla's way of thinking, her mother is living it up in Hong Kong and cares nothing about them. So one wonders, why doesn't Josie just tell Carla the truth? The movie doesn't explain this anomaly. For example, Carla blames Josie for not returning to attend the funeral of the husband Rudy (the reason for his death is not made clear). But Josie has a good reason. During that time she was locked in the Chinese house with no telephone access. When her Chinese boss returns Josie receives a letter informing her of the death of her husband. She begs her boss to be allowed to return to the Philippines. Her boss refuses. But Carla knows nothing of this. She imagines that her mother intended not to return for the funeral out of spite.
When Josie announces that she is home for good and won't be returning to Hong Kong, the sparks really begin to fly. Carla now embarks on a mission of going out of her way to piss off her mother. She brings her boyfriend over to the house where they sleep together. Josie finds them the next morning and she is deeply offended (which of course, was Carla's intention). Meanwhile, Michael has been hiding a secret from his mother. He attends a fancy private school on a scholarship. Unfortunately, his grades have gone downhill and his scholarship has been revoked. His mother must now fork over a large tuition bill to keep him in school. But Michael is afraid to tell his mother this bad news. Also, the youngest daughter Daday plays a trick on her mother in which she invites Josie to eat a meal cooked by Daday only to find out there is a live frog on the plate. It seems Josie can't get any respect from her children. Tensions escalate when Carla decides to run away from home. She hooks up with a bad gang of drug users. She takes on a boyfriend who is a real lowlife scumbag. Josie eventually tracks down Carla and enters the apartment where she begs Carla to come home. They eventually end up in a cat fight with Josie winding up on the floor, decked by Carla. If Carla had been my kid I would have knocked her into next week (but that's another story). Josie leaves disappointed thinking that she has lost a daughter. Soon afterward Carla discovers that her low-life boyfriend has been unfaithful to her. She runs away to a bar where she drinks too much and winds up lying in the gutter stone cold drunk. Luckily
for her, her family finds her and rescues her. By now Josie has had enough. She decides to return to Hong Kong since she can't get any respect from her children. That evening Josie and Carla end up having the climactic fight of the entire movie. Each of them says hurtful words to the other. It is only now that Josie reveals how horrible her life in Hong Kong is. Buckets of tears are shed during this scene and both Vilma Santos and Claudine Barretto engage in a bit of overacting by American standards. Now Carla does an abrupt about-face and begins to appreciate her mother. This turn of events is frankly unbelievable in my opinion and I thought it greatly diminished the credibility of the entire movie. Despite her reconciliation with Carla, Josie proceeds with her plan to return to Hong Kong. After arriving in Hong Kong she receives a letter from Carla talking about recent events in the family. Josie smiles. All is right with the world. Her daughter has forgiven her and vice versa. Huh?, what kind of closure is that? Nothing substantial has been resolved by the end of the movie. Josie is still working as a DH for some Chinese boss who treats her like a dog. Some happy ending! Overall, this was a pretty good movie if you can live with the mediocre ending. It is a cut above the typical Filipino fare. In particular I would like to single out the performance of Baron Geisler who played Michael. I thought he stole the show with his masterful performance. He didn't have a whole lot of lines in the movie but the impact of his facial expressions and body language were very powerful. There
were several times during the movie where I wanted to take the character played by Claudine Barretto and smack her around a bit. I thought the Carla character was a little bitch who needed to be taught a big lesson. I also thought the film missed a golden opportunity to make a political statement about the awful economic situation in the Philippines, which forces millions of Filipinos to leave their homeland and earn a living abroad. Ang istorya ay tungkol kay Josie (Vilma Santos), isang ina na nagtatrabaho sa Hong Kong bilang domestic helper. Ginawa niya ito upang makapagpadala ng pera sa mga anak niya upang matustusan ang kanilang pangangailangan. Binangggit niya na ginagawa nya ito para mabigyan ng magandang kinabukasan ang kanyang mga anak. Bagama't siya ay malayo sa kanila, tiniis nya ang mga pasakit ng kanyang amo at ang kanyang pagnanais na makasama ang kanyang mga anak sa kanilang paglaki. Nagsimula sa isang masayang mag-anak, nagkawatak watak ang buhay ng mga anak ni Josie magmula ng yumao ang kanilang ama na syang kasama nila sa bahay. Dito nagsimulang masuklam si Carla (Claudine Baretto) sa kanyang ina. Nagpadala sila ng sulat sa inang nasa Hong Kong upang malaman ang nangyari at nang sya'y umuwi. Gayunpaman, hindi nabasa ni Josie ang sulat dahil sya ay kinulong ng kanyang amo sa loob ng kanilang bahay nang sila'y lumipad sa Estados Unidos ng isang buwan. Nabasa ni Josie ang sulat pagkaraan ng isang buwan, ngunit hindi pa rin siya pinayagan ng kanyang among umuwi kahit magmakaawa pa siya. Pagkaraan ng ilang taon, umuwi na rin si Josie. Nagawa nya ito dahil itigil na nya ang
kanyang trabaho sa Hong Kong. Nagnanais siyang magtayo ng isang negosyo na kasosyo ang kanyang dalawang kaibigan. Namuhunan silang tatlo ng taksi para ipasada sa kalsada. Masaya ang kanyang pagbalik pagkaraan ng anim na taong pangungulila. Gayunpaman, naharap nya ang matabang na pagsalubong ng mga anak. Si Daday, ang bunso, ay hindi sya kilala. Si Michael (Baron Geisler) ay mahiyain at walang kimi at si Carla, na hindi man lang ginagalang ang ina at iniitsa-pwera lamang. Ninais ni Josie na makuha ang simpatiya ng mga anak sa pamamagitan ng mga pasalubong. Hindi ito tinanggap ni Carla. Sa pagdaan ng panahon, unti-unti nakikita ni Josie ang mga bisyo at karanasan ni Carla, paninigarilyo, tattoo, paghihithit ng droga, panlalalake at paglalaglag ng bata. Dagdag pa dito ang pagkawala ng iskolarship ni Michael na siya pa namang pinakamatalino sa kanyang mga anak. Nabangga pa ang taksing pinundar ni Josie at iniwan siya ng isa sa mga kasosyo niya dahil nagastos niya ang perang ibabahagi sana niya. Sa sunud-sunod na problema ni Josie, gusto na sana niyang sumuko. Pinagtatabuyan siya ni Carla. Lumala pa ang alitan ng lumayas si Carla sa bahay at lalong nalulong sa kanyang bisyo. Nang mawala ang iskolarship ni Michael, nagsimula ng maginit ang ulo ni Josie dahil ang dami na ng kanyang binabayaran. Dahil dito, napahiya sa Michael sa mga pangarap na gusto ng ina niya sa kanya. Lumayas din si Michael. Nagtuluy-tuloy ang kamalasan ni Josie kasabay ng pagkaunti ng kanyang inimpok na salapi para sa kanyang pamilya. Dahil dito, napilitan siyang magbalik sa Hongkong. Isang gabi bago siya babalik sa Hong Kong, napuno si Josie sa pagtrato sa kanya ni Carla. Malaki ang alitan ng dalawa hanggang sa binuhos nya ang lahat lahat ng
kanyang nararamdaman sa mga anak. Sa oras na ito, namulat ang mga mata ni Carla sa katotohanang sya ang sumira sa buhay niya at wala na siyang mapagbabalingan ng sisi kundi ang sarili nya dahil sa pagpapalalo nya sa kanyang bisyo. Ang kanyang paglaki ng walang inang gumagabay sa kanyang tabi ang nagtaboy sa kaniya para magrebelde, ngunit sa kanilang alitang iyon, naintindihan rin ni Carla ang pagmamahal ni Josie sa kanila bagama't malayo sya sa kanilang tabi.