by Heinrich Domingo
It is time for rural poverty to take the limelight. In this Zig Dulay’s masterpiece, he beautifully tells the story of a poor family set in the backdrop of abundant green rice fields and culturally rich Province of Isabela. He captures the essence of an Isabelino’s life through casting a brilliant ensemble of actors and actresses.
Bambanti revolves around the life of a kid named Popoy (Micko Laurente) and how he and his family’s life changed when he was wrongfully accused of stealing. With his mother Belyn (Alessandra de Rossi), their struggle towards defending themselves is laid bare in the eyes of the viewers through drama and occasional laughter.
The film roots itself on the quality of its casts’ portrayal. It was apparent that the director opt to select non-Ilokano speaking veterans than to experiment on Ilokano speaking newbies. This paid well because aside from award-winning performance of its main casts, all were able to deliver Ilokano lines without the tendency of bastardizing the language.
It would be unfair not to commend Alessandra de Rossi’s show of sheer talent. The audiences have seen her excellence both in cinema and in television but this time, de Rossi went an extra mile when she portrayed a poor widow who tries to fight for her son without any avail. We see the authenticity of maternal love and care as well as the cinematic image of a desperate single mom. With her is the realistic acting of majority of the casts including featured relatives and friends who might not be integral in the film’s plot. All were for the challenge of making the scenes believable.
Another key element is the film’s cinematography. Shots taken in a lamp-lit dining area or those that display the green rice fields establish sympathy from anyone who has been familiar with Philippines’ rural setting. Truly, Dulay’s understanding on the dynamics of Ilokano culture set in Isabela added depth in the story he wishes to tell.
Bambanti is one indie film that the popular Filipino audience must watch. Despite using the voice of the rural poor, the language of poverty speaks to all parts of the country. Inequality brought by division of social classes must be discussed from various perspectives coming from all sides of the country. A toast for Zig Dulay for this outstanding piece of work!
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