Time to Teach

In her despair

How can I be cruel with this film? Even I had a hard time finding this little twitty creature in cinemas. Most of the theatres have stopped running the film reel after the first screening – the poor thing. Ay Ayeng is a film directed by Eduardo Palmos which he also wrote the screenplay in collaboration with Liza Lazaro. It was adopted from the novel “Maestra Ester” by Abdon Noviza. The mere presence of the film’s star Heart Evangelista might have helped redeem its flop status locally. Honestly, the film is not entirely a disappointment despite the fact that there is a perceptible limp of flaws in it.

The film premiered in Hawaii and gained a good reception among fellow Filipinos. Now with its screening in Manila, I’m lock, stock and barrel bemused with its promotion. Where are Heart’s solid fanatics? I interviewed the sales lady in the cinema asking her why it was panned out that early. Translated in English, she said: “Sir, no one watched, although the film was good. What's more, Heart was raped in the film!” She admitted having a glimpse of the film and liked it.

Karen (Sheena Joy) returns from Hawaii to her hometown in Mountain Province in the northern part of Luzon. She traces back her roots and wishes to meet her childhood friend Ayeng (Heart Evangelista). Consequently, Ayeng is compelled to comeback to the mountain due to lack of resources for her studies in the city. The entire village supports her dreams to become a teacher but with the arrival of the soldiers headed by Gallo (John Arcilla), the villagers are prohibited to send money. Ayeng is determined to render her acquired skills by teaching the children and women. But the soldiers are bothered with her whereabouts, provoking her to leave the mountain.

The film Ay Ayeng was adopted from a novel, which I may say is powerful in written form. Surely, the novel wants to expose social problems in a certain demography such as lack of education, land grabbing, military abuses and violence against women and children. But, the film had trouble translating the novel within film perspectives and boundaries. I am certain that this literary piece might be provocative at the time it was made. Exposing it decades later will not induce an effect that it fervently wants to convey. Is it just the timing? Although their issues might still exist in present date, but they are mostly tackled in television documentaries, having a higher likelihood of exposure amongst the public.

I admire Evangelista’s courage to play an offbeat character. Although she is conscious most of the time, part of it was dedicated on fixing her hair; still she manages to convince me she is indeed Ayeng. Her exotic eyes and filipina looking appeal may really pass for a mountain lass. She is indeed the star of this film. Jao Mapa as Sadek has minor scenes. Nevertheless, he effectively delivers the true nature of his character. Maria Isabel Lopez as Umay is likewise in her finest form to show her range as a trained actress. Sheena Joy might look awkward in the entire film, but she is supposed to be an outsider. Her first acting foray as Karen might not be her best, but at least, she might have made Fil-Ams in Hawaii laud her for her engagement in the film. But the other non-actors are a real pain in the ass. Most of the villagers are not motivated to act well. Which actually shows the importance of extra’s in the success of the film.

Ay Ayeng is provocative in its own little way. The film is bound to expose something more relevant and contemporary, but it had difficulty doing so. Perhaps it is us who might also not comprehend. In reality, we are bound to live in a land of futility. We are aware of problems that we strongly take no notice of. Ay Ayeng tries to raise people’s consciousness on social problems and to take pride of our Filipino identity. The film agrees that the film itself could not address the predicaments we Filipinos are mostly aware of. But with Ayeng's plight
, I certainly understand.

Charlie Koon's Rating:


cj said...

tnx for the appreciation to heart's endeavor!!

Charlie Koon said...

no, its ok. :)

she made risks, and i would certainly admire her for that. :)

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