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Quing Lalam Ning Aldo is a story of a transgender parent who anticipates the arrival of her son from overseas. While she prepares the entire home, she reminisces the good old days they spent in the kitchen.

Quing Lalam Ning Aldo poster, Cinemalaya 2020 short film finalist

This film centers around the culinary culture of Pampanga. Food became a significant element in the story. Even the scenes depicting the parent’s preparation involve food. This relationship with food is shared among Filipinos. Even non-Kapampangan viewers would relate to the way food is used as a language of love and care in the film. 

One notable element of the film is its cinematography. The film employed clean, cinematic, and advertisement-like images. While such stylistic choice does not sit well either with the film’s theme or its message, it is a great showcase of the technical capability of the filmmakers. In several occasions, the film looked like a coffee commercial enticing viewers to embrace the rural farming life. 

While the premise of the film – a transgender parent wanting to rekindle her relationship with her son – seems interesting, the rest of the story is flat and unengaging. The film failed to emphasize the conflict of the story which would have helped the viewers see the depth of the characters better. Instead, Quing Lalam Ning Aldo chose to paint a happy ending that is neither compelling nor realistic. As the film treats its story like a fairy tale, it glossed over issues that could make a transgender parent-and-son relationship an interesting narrative. 

While Quing Lalam Ning Aldo does not fare well with its fellow Cinemalaya finalists, it is a good watch as it offers a different cinematic look and vibe from the typical indie films we see in the competition. It reminds us of the continuing process of defining and redefining Philippine cinema and of the slowly decaying wall that separates mainstream and indie films.

Quing Lalam Ning Aldo video essay review