Paglipay: A Crossing Beyond Love and Culture

Written by: Edge Aruta

“Paglipay” (“Crossing”) brings more than just a love story, but a better understanding and perspective in the lives of the Aetas and their tradition. The movie was one of the 12 chosen films for Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, which ran from August 16-22 in celebration of Buwan ng Wika.

Director Zig Dulay made an exceptional movie that will really give you the “feels”. You may call it a love story, yet Paglipay also goes beyond that, containing meaningful messages that unfold before your eyes. The film utilizes a lot of wide and bird’s eye view shots to capture the beauty and imagery of the mountains and farmlands. These landscapes also play a role in speaking about the troubles of indigenous people regarding their land. Albert Banzon’s cinematography remarkably uses the sun to highlight the drama and emotions of the film’s imagery.

The film shows the interaction between the straight-haired (“Unat”) lowlanders and curly-haired (“Kulot”) Aetas. This interaction between the two cultures started when the Aetas were forced to evacuate the mountains and live with the lowlanders after the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. Some Aetas went back to the mountains, like the family of Atan and Ani, and some of them stayed and had intermarriages with the lowlanders.

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paglipayPhoto from Paglipay (Crossing) Facebook page

Atan Dimaya, (played by Garry Cabalic) is a 19-year old Aeta boy who helps his father with the slash-and-burn livelihood in the farm. He is also being mentored by his father about the Aeta’s culture and tradition. Atan has a childhood friend named Ani, (played by Joan De La Cruz) an Aeta woman whom Atan is set to marry. In Aeta tradition, if a man is going to marry an Aeta woman, he has to prepare a dowry or “bandi” required by the parents of the woman. Atan was asked to bring two pigs, furniture, farm tool, and P20,000 cash for Ani. Because of the large monetary requirement, Atan had to work extra hard. He went down to the town to sell his farming goods and even looked for various farming jobs to complete the dowry he needed for Ani. And there, he met Rain.

Rain, (played by Anna Luna) is a student from UP Manila who visited the mountains of Zambales to conduct interviews about the “Pilaok” or the intermarriages of the “Unat” and “Kulot” for their thesis. She is with her thesis adviser and her best friend Cai (played by Manel Sevidal). Atan was asked to guide and help the students with their interview. But as he spends more time with Rain, he develops a crush and eventually falls in love with her.

This is the beginning of Atan’s dilemma.


In the film, Atan uses a stick to form a cross to mark a land or territory. A visual representation of the word crossing. Paglipay. A crossing of destinies, perhaps, or of two traditions and ways of life.

A crossing of the unats and the kulots.

However, the question remains. Who is the girl Atan ends up with? Does he choose to obey his elders and continue the Aeta tradition by marrying Ani? Or does he follow the true desire of his heart—Rain?

Don’t miss the chance to find out.