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By Heinrich Domingo

The story follows the typical life of a young boy who begs on the street. His life is an everyday struggle as he hopes to survive each day. Yet, it was later revealed that his efforts were not only for him. They were meant to serve a larger and powerful group of syndicates.


Katok’s story is not new. The subject of syndicates behind street beggars has been exposed in many films and documentaries. Yet, this short film expands the topic and chooses to focus on a particular story – the usage of katok (knock on the mirror) to dispel street children. This habit is a common practice in the Philippines to mean that a person refuses to give a pleading beggar any alms when approached while in a car. It is a polite way of denying help, an act that means the beggar and the giver are in a common understanding.

Although the film does not aim to give explanation or background on this custom, its narrative is still interesting to see as it extends the act from a mere simplistic gesture to a meaningful metaphor. When the viewers begin to see this habit in a new perspective, the film succeeds.

Simple storyline accompanied by simple visual portrayal contrasted with a complex cultural piece makes this film beautiful. It is easy enough to follow yet in the end forces the audience to think. This combination of elements appeals to a crowd who still wants to be puzzled by cinema without the embarrassing thought of feeling stupid.

Despite being too narrow and simple, Katok proves a long standing short film maxim – ‘Less is more.’ It inspires thinking even beyond its ending.

Directed by: Bob Guarina
CineFilipino 2016 Short Film competition

3.5 stars