Sometime last May, we blogged about Haw-ang, an indie film about a Catholic nun assigned to teach catechism in an Ifugao village but who ended up doing more than that. This is what we said:
After Batad sa Paang Palay, here comes another film about Ifugaos entitled Haw-ang (English Title: Before Harvest) produced by an independent outfit.
We are, of course, looking forward to watching the movie but it seems like it belongs to that tired genre of movies about poor local villagers who have “slow spirits” and who live “little lives” and whose lives will improve only because of the help of an outsider. [Quoted words are from this article which appears to be a press release for the movie.]
We never believed in those kinds of films, they may be well-meaning but they are patronizing and condescending. In fairness, we still have to watch the movie so we are keeping our mouths shut for the moment.
We are now going to open our big mouth because we watched the movie. Our verdict: We didn’t expect to like it but we ended up liking it a lot. It is better than Daan Patungong Kalimugtong (which we also like but we like Haw-ang more) and much much better than Batad sa Paang Palay (which we partly liked and partly disliked).
We still don’t like the “theme” or the main message of the movie, i.e., outsider changes the lives of poor villagers. Why? Because it teaches us to look for outside saviors rather than helping ourselves. Also, this theme is particularly the wrong one to use in a Cordillera context because our environment have shaped us to rely on ourselves and to not be dependent on outside forces. Outsiders, of course, can bring in a new perspective to a remote village but to portray them as saviors is just silly.
Anyway, despite the above quibble, Haw-ang is a very good and well-made film. There are many things to like in this movie such as:
Adorable kids? Check
Use of local language? Check. In some portions.
Movie twists and turns? Check
Good acting? Check
Nice music? Check
Great cinematography? Check. It would be poor film making indeed if one shoots in Ifugao and still comes up with a bad cinematography.
Ifugao rituals? Check. At least dito, they are integral to the story. Unlike in Batad sa Paang Palay where indigenous rituals are shown without any apparent reason.
There’s even some sex and violence for those who like movies of that genre. So folks, this is a good film. Those of you who are in Manila should watch it while it is still showing. The theater was empty when we watched it yesterday.