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By Heinrich Domingo

Life is a gift and those who are gifted with it should eternally feel blessed. But what if this life is not asked for, what if this life was a product of incestuous rape or teenage casual sex? Ang Huling Chacha ni Anita discusses this dilemma alongside the women sandwiched in between. It brings to the big screen a much-debated topic in a patriarchal Catholic society.

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In a far-flung barrio, there lives a community who adores the miraculous saints of Obando, Bulacan. Their lives revolve around believing in the value of life and the importance of their Catholic faith. Every month of May, they would join in a fertility dance to venerate these saints. Anita, a 12-year old girl (played by Teri Malvar) was believed to be a fruit of this dance ritual. All is fine in the humble, quite barrio when suddenly, a beautiful villager returned to the place. She is Pilar (Angel Aquino) and she was rumored to have left because of having an abortion outside town. All the townsfolk hate her except Anita who has developed a deep crush on her. For the whole summer, Anita discovered herself more and the community she lives in.

Ang Huling Chacha ni Anita deviates from the typical coming-of-age stories. It speaks of more than the protagonists’ gender preference and digs deep into issues of being a woman in an unforgiving Catholic society. The screenplay beautifully tells this tale through distorting the time-space continuum, which is a subtle commentary on how issues of women in the past continue to haunt us today. In the film, there is yet to have progress for Filipinas.

From gender identity to roles in society, this film overflows with issues of women. But most striking of its narrative is the discussion on abortion. Although many countries allow abortion, the Philippines does not allow any of its kind. Just like in the story, even abortion by victims of incestuous rape and unwanted pregnancy are ostracized by the community. This movie shows how our country has a long way to go in respecting choices of women.

The performances of the whole cast are, beyond doubt, outstanding. Each of them sufficiently played their roles. Angel Aquino, who is considered to be a veteran actress, showed again her ability to act superbly on any given character.

Ang Huling Chacha ni Anita allows viewers to realize that change is needed to hear more of women’s voices. The society that we currently live in is simply unfriendly to women. Whether this mindset comes from our culture or religion, it must change. And just like Anita’s eventual acceptance in the story, our society might someday learn to respect women’s choices.

4.5 stars

Ang Huling Chacha ni Anita can be watched on iflix. Avail of their  monthly or annual plans now and tell them we sent you!

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