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Sinag Maynila 2016   Leave a comment

Sinag

So yesterday I did a marathon of all Sinag Maynila entries. Sinag Maynila is a project close to me since I worked on it in its initial year up until the announcement/selection for this batch (before I left my previous work). I was really interested with the movies this year particularly because I already have a clue with these entries, so to see them translated in the big screen is what made me excited. Anyway, here are short thoughts on the 2016 batch.

  1. TPO (Joselito Altarejos)
    Probably the best in this bunch, Altarejos managed to capture in less than 80 minutes the pain, the process, the aftermath of domestic violence and how this goes beyond the victim and the abuser. Characters weren’t one-dimensional and the use of long shots made the situation linger. If anything, TPO shows how people cope up with this illness and how it’s reflective of our society.

    4/5

  2. Expressway (Ato Bautista)
    Everything in Expressway is flamboyant from its full opening credits to its choreographer stunts. One can make a case that it has a tendency to go style over substance for a paper thin story that’s predictable and excessive, but it was a joyride to see Alvin Anson and Aljur Abrenica navigate through it – the former to get a leading role like this, the latter to totally embrace the batshit character he’s portraying (even if in some scenes, he went full retard). Oh, and for some reason, setting the film during Christmas season somehow added to its appeal.

    3/5

  1. MRS. (Adolf Alix)
    MRS. is a character study for its lead Virignia (what a comeback for the always dependable Elizabeth Oropesa) as she deals with everything happening around her – her older sister wanting to sell the lot of her house, her loyal house helper who’s getting married, her daughter who has joined a cult, her missing child. She’s living in a house situated on a fault line thus her house has cracks and looks old which probably signifies where she is in her life right now. The film contains really powerful moments, and I acknowledge the intent more than I appreciate it. That said, Alix continues to bring out the best in his actors.

    2.5/5

  2. Dyamper (Mes de Guzman)
    What’s exciting about Dyamper is director Mes de Guzman’s humor obviously present in it. When following about the lives of these so-called “dyampers”, the movie is at its peak. The back story of Alchris Galura’s character however, while not cringe-worthy and him totally selling it, felt a bit disjointed than the “dyamper” storyline. It’s not actually bad, but I think there’s a lack of smooth transition between these two parts that’s a tad jarring.

    2.5/5

  3. Lila (Gino M. Santos)
    Philbert Dy summed it best when he said that “Lila feels like a script that Regal rejected.” For what it’s worth, the film was stylishly done and everyone involved seemed so committed with it. That said, not only is the lead character one of the more clueless leads in recent horror film memory, but probably one of the slowest readers… ever? Like if I discovered someone’s thin diary, you bet on it I’m done with it by the second hour, notes and all. Heh.

    1/5

Since the Gabi ng Parangal happens tonight, I’ll offer my personal choices on this batch’s winners. Picture and Directing obviously goes to TPO and Joselito Altarejos. Actor I give to Aljur Abrenica (give or take his really over the top scenes, but playing that annoying young character seems right up his alley). Actress is obviously Elizabeth Oropesa (no contest!). Screenplay and Editing go to TPO, Cinematography is Dyamper, Production Design is MRS, and Score goes to Expressway. Lila probably gets best outfits for Enchong Dee.

Sinag

While we’re at it, I still invite you to watch all five films from this year’s Sinag Maynila. And (heh), avail the Sinag Maynila ePLUS Festival Kit Card because trust me, it’ll save you a lot of money (I think a movie is at Php280 each if I’m not mistaken). Until next year! #SinagMaynila2016

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Cinemalaya X Final Recap   6 comments

After eight days of going back and forth from CCP, I’ve finally finished all 15 films of the New Breed and Directors Showcase categories as well as the 10 short films that comprise the 10th Cinemalaya Indepedent Film Festival. Here’s my final rankings of the films (with my corresponding thoughts on it by clicking the link):

Ranking of the 10 New Breed Entries:
1. Sundalong Kanin (Janice O’Hara) – 4.5/5
2. Dagitab (Gian Abrahan) – 4.5/5
3. #Y (Gino Santos) – 4/5
4. Mariquina (Milo Sogueco) – 4/5
5. Children’s Show (Derick Cabrido) – 3.5/5
6. 1st ko si 3rd (Real Florido) – 3.5/5
7. Bwaya (Francis Pasion) – 3/5
8. K’Na, the Dreamweaver (Ida Anita del Mundo) – 2.5/5
9. Ronda (Nick Olanka)- 2/5
10. Separados (GB Sampedro) – 1/5

Ranking of the 5 Directors Showcase Entries:
1. Hari ng Tondo (Carlos Siguon Reyna) – 3.5/5
2. The Janitor (Mike Tuviera) – 3/5
3. Kasal (Joselito Altarejos) – 3/5
4. Hustisya (Joel Lamangan) – 2/5
5. Asintado (Louie Ignacio) – 1.5/5

Ranking of the 10 Short Film Entries:
1. Asan si Lolo Me? (Sari Estrada) – 5/5
2. Nakabibinging Kadiliman (Paolo O’Hara) – 4.5/5
3. Mga Ligaw na Paruparo (JE Tiglao) – 4/5
4. Lola (Kevin Ang) – 3.5/5
5. The Ordinary Things We Do (David Corpuz) – 3/5
6. Padulong sa Pinuy-anan (Even Villarba) – 2.5/5
7. Indayog ng Nayatamak (Joris Fernandez) – 2.5/5
8. Eyeball (Thop Nazareno) – 2/5
9. Ina-tay (Chloe Veloso)- 2/5
10. Tiya Bening (Ralph Quijano) – 2/5

NEW BREED CATEGORY PREDICTIONS:

1. Best Sound
Will Win: “Children’s Show”
Could Win: “Bwaya”, “K’Na, the Dreamweaver”
Personal Pick: “Children’s Show”

2. Best Original Music Score
Will Win: “K’Na, the Dreamweaver”
Could Win: “Children’s Show”, “Sundalong Kanin”
Personal Pick: “Mariquina”

3. Best Editing
Will Win: “Children’s Show”
Could Win: “Sundalong Kanin”, “Bwaya”
Personal Pick: “#Y”

4. Best Production Design
Will Win: “K’Na, the Dreamweaver”
Could Win: “Bwaya”, “Mariquina”
Personal Pick: “K’Na, the Dreamweaver”

5. Best Cinematography
Will Win: “Bwaya”
Could Win: “Children’s Show”, “Dagitab”
Personal Pick: “Ronda”

6. Best Screenplay
Will Win: Janice O’Hara, Denise O’Hara, “Sundalong Kanin”
Could Win: Jerrold Tarog, “Mariquina″, Real Florido, “1st Ko si 3rd”
Personal Pick: Gian Abrahan, “Dagitab”

7. Best Performance of a Supporting Actor
Will Win: Ricky Davao, “Separados” or “Mariquina” (if placed here)
Could Win: Dante Rivero, “1st Ko si 3rd”, Miggs Cuaderno, “Children’s Show”
Personal Pick: Ricky Davao, “Mariquina”

8. Best Performance of a Supporting Actress
Will Win: Barbie Forteza, “Mariquina”
Could Win: Gloria Sevilla, “Children’s Show”, Ruby Ruiz, “1st Ko si 3rd”
Personal Pick: Coleen Garcia, “#Y”

9. Best Direction
Will Win: Janice O’Hara, “Sundalong Kanin”
Could Win: Roderick Cabrido, “Children’s Show”, Francis Pasion, “Bwaya”
Personal Pick: Janice O’Hara, “Sundalong Kanin”

10. Best Performance of an Actor
Will Win: Nonie Buencamino, “Dagitab”
Could Win: Buboy Villar, “Children’s Show”, ensemble of Separados (God forbid)
Personal Pick: Nonie Buencamino, “Dagitab”

11. Best Performance of an Actress
Will Win: Angeli Bayani, “Bwaya”
Could Win: Aiai delas Alas, “Ronda”, Nova Villa, “1st Ko si 3rd”
Personal Pick: Eula Valdez, “Dagitab”

12. Special Jury Prize
Will Win: “Children’s Show″
Could Win: “Sundalong Kanin”
Personal Pick: “Dagitab”

13. Best Film
Will Win: “Sundalong Kanin”
Could Win: “Children’s Show″
Personal Pick: “Sundalong Kanin”

DIRECTORS SHOWCASE CATEGORY PREDICTIONS

1. Best Sound
Will Win: “The Janitor”
Could Win: “Asintado”, “Hari ng Tondo”
Personal Pick: “The Janitor”

2. Best Original Music Score
Will Win: “Hari ng Tondo”
Could Win: “Kasal”, “The Janitor”
Personal Pick: “The Janitor”

3. Best Editing
Will Win: “The Janitor”
Could Win: “Hari ng Tondo”
Personal Pick: “The Janitor”

4. Best Production Design
Will Win: “The Janitor”
Could Win: “Asintado”
Personal Pick: “Hari ng Tondo”

5. Best Cinematography
Will Win: “Asintado”
Could Win: “The Janitor”
Personal Pick: “Kasal”

6. Best Screenplay
Will Win: Bibeth Orteza, “Hari ng Tondo”
Could Win: Aloy Adlawan, Michael Tuviera, “The Janitor”, Ricky Lee, “Hustisya”
Personal Pick: Joselito Altarejos, Zig Dulay, “Kasal”

7. Best Performance of a Supporting Actor
Will Win: Rez Cortez, “Hari ng Tondo”
Could Win: Rocco Nacino, “Hustisya”, Dante Rivero, “The Janitor”
Personal Pick: Miggs Cuaderno, “Asintado”

8. Best Performance of a Supporting Actress
Will Win: Liza Lorena, “Hari ng Tondo”
Could Win: Rosanna Roces, “Hustisya”, Sunshine Dizon, “Hustisya”
Personal Pick: Sunshine Garcia, “The Janitor”

9. Best Direction
Will Win: Michael Tuviera, “The Janitor”
Could Win: Carlos Siguion Reyna, “Hari ng Tondo”, Joel Lamangan, “Hustisya”
Personal Pick: Michael Tuviera, “The Janitor”

10. Best Performance of an Actor
Will Win: Arnold Reyes and Oliver Aquino, “Kasal”
Could Win: Dennis Trillo, “The Janitor”, Robert Arevalo, “Hari ng Tondo”
Personal Pick: Arnold Reyes, “Kasal”

11. Best Performance of an Actress
Will Win: Nora Aunor, “Hustisya”
Could Win: Aiko Melendez, “Asintado”
Personal Pick: Nora Aunor, “Hustisya”

12. Special Jury Prize
Will Win: “Hari ng Tondo”
Could Win:  “Kasal”, “Hustisya”
Personal Pick: “The Janitor”

13. Best Film
Will Win: “The Janitor”
Could Win: “Hari ng Tondo”
Personal Pick: “Hari ng Tondo”

You can also follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Cinemalaya X Complete Guide   10 comments

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Now that August is fast approaching, it’s time for the country’s biggest independent film festival as Cinemalaya celebrates its first decade this year. Running from August 1-10, this year’s festival, dubbed as “Cinemalaya X: A Decade of Connecting Dimensions”, will once again showcase the power of independent films in providing quality cinema in the country. This year’s 10 New Breed films, 10 short films, and 4 Directors Showcase that are in competition this year are:

(descriptions taken from the press kit available online)

DIRECTORS SHOWCASE:

1. ASINTADO (Between the Eyes)
Director: 
Louie Ignacio
Cast: Aiko Melendez, Gabby Eigenmann, Jake Vargas, Miggs Cuaderno, Rochelle Pangilinan
Plot: In the middle of the preparation for TaongPutik Festival, a young man penniless and in love, takes on a drug courier job that goes terribly wrong.  To save him, his mother now makes the most difficult decision of her life.

2. HARI NG TONDO
Director: Carlos Siguion-Reyna
Cast: Robert Arevalo, Cris Villonco, Rez Cortez, Liza Lorena, Rafa Siguion-Reyna
Plot: A grandfather on the brink of bankruptcy and brings his grandchildren back to the community that made and shaped him, only to find out the place is no longer the same.

3. HUSTISYA
Director: 
Joel Lamangan
Cast: Nora Aunor, Rocco Nacino, Rosanna Roces, Sunshine Dizon
Plot: A foul-mouthed woman fights for her soul in the belly of the city.  Working for a human trafficking agency controlled by a powerful syndicate, she sees no evil, hears no evil.  In a society like ours, you have only two choices – to be a victim, or a victimizer. She makes her choice.

4. THE JANITOR
Director:
Michael Tuviera
Cast:
Dennis Trillo, Derek Ramsay, Dante Rivero, Irma Adlawan
Plot: 
Crisanto Espina, a cop on suspension and under investigation, is tasked to eliminate the suspects involved in a bank robbery/massacre that shocked the whole nation.

5. KASAL
Director: Joselito Altarejos
Cast: Arnold Reyes, Oliver Aquino, Rita Avila, Maureen Mauricio
Plot: Kasal is a slice of life drama of a gay couple whose resolve to stay together is challenged as they attend a wedding.  It also is an examination on how a gay couple navigates through the different institutions in Philippine society.

NEW BREED:

1. #Y
Director: Gino M. Santos
Cast: Elmo Magalona, Coleen Garcia, Slater Young, Kit Thompson, Sophie Albert
Plot: “#Y” (“Hashtag Y”) chronicles the adventures of the members of a generation made universal by the realms of social media, the internet, sex, drugs and alcohol, and the occasional YOLO.

2. 1st KO SI 3rd
Director: Real Florido
Cast: Nova Villa, Dante Rivero, Freddie Webb
Plot: Matapos ang mahigit apat na dekada ay muling makikita ni Cory ang kanyang 1st love na si Third na siyang magbibigay kulay at gugulo sa kanyang buhay bilang may asawa at retiree.

3. BWAYA
Director: 
Francis Xavier Pasion
Cast: Angeli Bayani, RS Francisco, Karl Medina, Jolina Salvado
Plot: Divina is preparing for her daughter Rowena’s 13th birthday when she hears shocking news:  her daughter has been attacked by a crocodile, her body still missing.  As Divina searches for the body of her daughter in the marshlands of Agusan del Sur, she learns a lesson more tragic than her fate:  not all predators are underwater. The film is based on actual events.

4. CHILDREN’S SHOW
Director: 
Derick Cabrido
Cast: Allen Dizon, Gloria Sevilla, Nathan Lopez, Suzette Rannillo
Plot: Children’s Show is a full-length film based on a real life story of children ages 10-15 years old being used by a syndicate for an underground wrestling match.

5. DAGITAB (SPARKS)
Director: 
Giancarlo Abrahan V
Cast: Eula Valdez, Nonie Buencamino, Martin del Rosario
Plot: While the marriage of two professors is on the verge of falling apart, the woman is dragged into a scandal involving a young student.  On the other hand, the man falls in love with his research — a deity (supernatural being) that appears to him as the ghost of an old flame.

6. K’NA, THE DREAMWEAVER
Director: 
Ida Q. Anita del Mundo
Cast: Mara Lopez, RK Bagatsin, Alex Medina, Nonie Buencamino
Plot: When Kana, a young T’boli woman, becomes a dreamweaver, she has the chance to weave together her village’s warring clans.  But, will she give up true love to do so?

7. MARIQUINA
Director: 
Milo Sogueco
Cast: Mylene Dizon, Ricky Davao, Bing Pimentel, Che Ramos
Plot: Unlike the former Philippine First Lady, Imelda is indifferent towards shoes. To her, they are fraught with the bittersweet nostalgia of childhood, one that was marred by a difficult relationship with her shoe-maker father, Romeo.  Growing up, all of hers were handmade by him. Now a mature woman, she takes a pivotal call from the morgue, spurring her search for the perfect pair of shoes for her dead father.  The deeper she searches for the perfect shoes, the more she finds herself.

8. RONDA
Director: 
Nick Olanka
Cast: Aiai delas Alas, Carlo Aquino, Carlos Morales, Angeli Bayani
Plot: A policewoman roams the city of Manila to fulfill her duties as a police patrol and to look for her lost son.

9. SEPARADOS
Director: 
Gb Sampedro
Cast: Victor Neri, Ricky Davao, Anjo Yllana, Jason Abalos, Erik Santos, Alfred Vargas
Plot: Separados is a mostly bittersweet, partly comic, partly tragic saga of six men who have separated from their wives. Based on true stories, their parallel and overlapping tales are framed by a church wedding to a second wife by one of them, who grabs another chance at matrimonial bliss.

10. SUNDALONG KANIN
Director: 
Janice O’Hara
Cast: Nathaniel Brit, Ian de Leon, Marc Abaya, Gardo Verzosa
Plot: Set during the Japanese Occupation, four friends (Nitoy, Benny, Carding, and Badong) aspire nothing more than to become soldiers fighting the Japanese… until they are confronted by the realities of war that threaten to destroy their families and their friendship.

SHORT FILMS A:

1. ASAN SI LOLO ME? (Sari Estrada)
A mother tells her young son that his grandfather has turned into a goat in order to cover up the grandfather’s death.

2. TIYA BENING (Ralph Quijano)
Left by her daughter to a caregiver, an old lady with Alzheimer’s suffers as her bedroom burns during the night.

3. MGA LIGAW NA PARUPARO (J.E. Tiglao)
Miriam is up for a surprise from her husband after a rift caused by the flirty text message of someone named Alex.

4. THE ORDINARY THINGS WE DO (David R. Corpuz)
When everything material and immaterial is stripped off, what remain are souls united by and in love.

5. PADULONG SA PINUY-ANAN (Eden Villarba)
A man attempts to find himself and the meaning of home while lost in another country.

SHORT FILMS B:

1. INDAYOG NG NAYATAMAK (Joris Fernandez)
A struggle between a painter and his work.

2. LOLA (Kevin Ang Tan)
It’s Christmas time, and a grandmother spends a quiet afternoon tending to the family chores. But the arrival of an unexpected visitor brings with her some deadly consequences.

3. NAKABIBINGING KADILIMAN (Paolo O’Hara)
Nakabibinging Kadiliman is about two physically challenged sisters trying to find a way to live a normal life.

4. INA-TAY (Chloe Veloso)
A beautician named Elvis (also known as Elvira) finds out one day that he has fathered a bouncing baby boy and is left with the challenge of single parenthood.

5. EYEBALL (Thop Nazareno)
A vain man is out to meet a woman he met on Facebook for the first time. While waiting for her, he comes upon a naive guy whom he teaches his ways on attracting women. But the vain may need to learn some more.

Aside from that, the out of competition films ranged from Sineng Pambansa entries such as Maryo J. delos Reyes‘ Bamboo Flowers and Peque Gallaga’s Sonata to local premiere of  Ronnie Lazaro’s Edna. There’s also repeat screenings of last year’s top films via Lav Diaz critically acclaimed Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan, and Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo. Since Cinemalaya is celebratings its tenth year, a look back of some of the festival’s earlier films will also be in the schedule this year including Mike Sandejas’ Tulad ng Dati, Clodualdo del Mundo Jr.’s Pepot Artista, and Jerrold Tarog’s Sana Dati to name a few.

In order to help you fix your schedule this year, I’ve uploaded a table of the CCP schedule for this year arranged per day. Hope this helps!

August 2

August 3

August 4

August 5

August 6

August 7

August 8

 

August 9

As for the Ayala malls schedule:

Aug 2

Aug 3

Aug 4

Aug 5

Aug 6

Aug 7

Aug 8

Aug 9

Aug 10

You can also check the official Cinemalaya X Facebook fan page for more details.

See you everyone at the CCP next month! 🙂

You can also follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

8th Cinemalaya Film Festival Review: Part 2   6 comments

Here’s the second part of my Cinemalaya reviews. Don’t forget to come over at the CCP to catch the movies for yourself. The first part covered Mga Mumunting Lihim, Kamera Obskura, Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino, and Kalayaan. You can check them out here. Now, here are four other movies that I’ll review:

THE ANIMALS
Director: Gino M. Santos
Starring: Albie Casino, Patrick Sugui, Dawn Balagot
Competition: New Breed

A day in the life of three upper class teenage students who attend a party that will forever change their life. Jake (Casino) is the host of the biggest party before high school ends, Trina (Balagot) is his klepto girlfriend, while Alex (Sugui) is his brother who is applying to a high school fraternity.

As for starters, I love how the treatment focused on the three characters themselves. Movies about a certain generation has been done many times before, but I specifically notice the energy that the film displays in the characters, scenes, and dialogue in the movie. The aforementioned energy is what makes the movie interesting. I also liked how it’s as raw as one can get, and while some scenes can be very predictable, it depicts the truth that lies beyond the characters from puking in toilets, nipslips, and blabbing drivers of rich kids. The parting shot of the film is probably my favorite; it was expected yet it still stays with you and stays true to what the title and the story of the film suggests. Also, Albie Casino, Patrick Sugui, and Dawn Baalgot are revelations in the film and contributed a large part with the depiction of their characters. While it is very easy to accuse that Santos is all style no substance with this one; however, I particularly liked various things about the movie which showed his potentials as a filmmaker.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

BWAKAW
Director: Jun Lana
Starring: Eddie Garcia, Rez Cortez, Soxy Topacio, Beverly Salviejo, Gardo Versoza
Competition: Directors Showcase

Rene (Garcia) is an old gay man living alone. His only companion is his dog Bwakaw. He has been waiting for a long time, anticipating his death until he  finds both a surprise and a new reason to live.

I’m not a fan of previous Lana works, but I dare say this is his best film to date. I’m a big sucker for films dealing with a person’s loneliness, and I think that the film’s strongest suit lies beyond the writing of the character of Rene. Rene is alone and longing; he is anticipating for his death yet he seems to start a new life when he finds his first love. He does not believe in God, but he leaves his will to a priest. It is with this strong characterization that makes Rene a human being, and that was translated well from the screen to the audience. Somehow, I think that the movie is too long, though it balances comedy and drama perfectly that one won’t really get bothered by the long running time. Eddie Garcia showed no sign of aging when it comes to his performance, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins awards for it. The surprise though is the very good supporting cast from Rez Cortez to Soxie Topacio to my favorite Joey Paras; it shows that while it’s an Eddie Garcia vehicle, the movie can still accommodate the greatness of the rest of the cast. Both funny and touching, I find this as one of the more enjoyable entries of this year’s filmfest.

Rating: 4 / 5

MGA DAYO
Director: Julius Cena
Starring: Sue Prado, Janela Buhain, Olga Natividad
Competition: New Breed

Set during America’s favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, Mga Dayo features three different stories of women all dealing with their green card. The first one is a hotel cleaner who petitioned her 88 year old Mom to come liver with her in Guam because her mother wants to see America. The second one enters a fixed marriage with a friend just so she won’t be sent back to the Philippines. The third one is a journalist writer who is currently dealing with a broken heart.

For a movie that contains three different stories (not interrelated with each other, aside from the common theme that they all have issues with their green card), it’s not easy to totally be invested with which is which. However, it is pretty surprising that the movie ended quickly, and the revelation scenes of their fate did not leave that much of an impact as what was expected. There were really moments that will get you, opening the way for you to understand but once you start to do so, it suddenly ends. The saving grace of the film are Prado’s and Natividad’s performances, but overall, this leaves you a feeling that there’s still something that can be further covered, but it did not do so.

Grade: 2.5 / 5

ANG NAWAWALA
Director: Marie Jamora
Starring: Dominic Roco, Felix Roco, Dawn Zulueta, Buboy Garovillo
Competition: New Breed

Ang Nawawala tells the story of Gibson Bonifacio (Roco) who stopped speaking when he was young, and now that he’s back in the country for good, he deals with his broken family, and having his first attempt at love.

Let me start by saying that this is my favorite in the New Breed category films. This film does not require you to be critical of the technical aspects or the script or the acting, but more of tugging your heart with the emotional investment that you’ll feel for the characters in the film. The music served as a critical and necessary addition in exposing and understanding Gibson and the situation that he has been into. This is in no way a pioneer or even groundbreaking in terms of tackling the theme of family and love, but it leaves enough impact once the lights appear at the end of the film. I also like the portrayal of the family with Buboy Garovillo as the passive yet understanding and Dawn Zulueta as the aloof and strict mother. Annicka Dolonius gives a great breakthrough performance, but it was Dominic Roco who holds the whole cast altogether. He is heartbreaking, optimistic, and shy all rolled into one, and Roco exuded all of it in the movie. Once you leave the theaters, you can’t help but smile and get carried with Marie Jamora’s charming effort. Definitely a must see.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

There you have it. Next up: another batch of four Cinemalaya movies. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter: @nikowl