Written by Francesca Beatrice Sanchez
First shown during the ToFarm Festival in 2016, Zig Dulay’s Paglipay comes back for Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino. The word paglipay translates to “crossing”, a reflection of Atan’s journey throughout the movie.
The plot focuses on Atan Dimaya, a 19-year old Aeta boy who strives to earn money for his “bandi” or dowry in order to marry Ani, a fellow Aeta and childhood friend of Atan. With Ani’s parents setting a bride price of 20,000 pesos, Atan goes to town and sells cassava and banana hearts. This is where his resolve to marry Ani is shaken as he meets Rain, a student from UP Manila researching for her undergrad thesis.
In the movie, Ani and Atan may be childhood friends but it was apparent that Ani did not feel much for her fiance, shown outright when Ani said that at least Atan had a choice when she started to notice the change in him. Rain, on the other hand, is experiencing her own romantic woes when her feelings for a guy goes unrequited. Always hoping and assuming that the guy’s actions may seem like an interest in her, Rain always ends up disappointed. One of the highlights of her character was when Rain goes through an emotional breakdown after a night of drinking and karaoke.
Paglipay also gives us a glimpse on the culture of the Aeta community. The first 30 or so minutes of the movie focuses on their daily life and practices, from the slash-and-burn livelihood of Atan’s father to their own version of a pamamanhikan. “Pilaok”, or intermarriages between the kulots (Aetas) and the unats (lowlanders), are also focused on in the movie through Rain’s research. The film was also able to subtly inject some concerns brought by the mining industry and their capability to destroy the livelihood of the Aetas.
Acting-wise, Dulay’s film gives us fresh faces. Garry Cabalic and Joan Dela Cruz’s acting, who plays Atan and Ani respectively, added to the film’s charm, with both actors being an Aeta in real life. Anna Luna was also able to give life and portray the emotional vulnerabilty behind the friendly and smiling face of Rain. The film was also able to inject some modern humor with Cai’s character, Rain’s friend and partner played by Manel Sevidal.
Lastly, Paglipay’s cinematography alone should give us a reason to pack our bags and explore the Philippines. Every scene was a feast to the eyes as we are shown the simple life and beauty of Zambales.
At first glance, Paglipay may be your usual love triangle story, with a plot that seems predictable to boot. However, the simple premise and light undertone of the movie gives way for its audience to focus more on the cultural and social concerns.
Have you seen the movie? Tell us what you think in the comments.