Cinemalaya 2018 (Synopsis) Full-Length, Main Competition

Cinemalaya 14
Philippine Independent Film Festival 2018
August 3 - 12, 2018



“Ang mga Bisita ni Mamang” delves into the story of Mamang, an old woman who is hanging onto her memory so she could be with her son Ferdie, an unmarried middleaged man. Both alone, mother and son have no one but each other.

Already at the twilight of her life, Mamang struggles against the senility and dementia of old age, so she can be with her only living son, Ferdie, who she suspects will be accepting a teaching job in another province. However, the more she struggles, the more her condition worsens until she is literally haunted by the ghosts of her past – and what started as visions slowly becomes her reality until she is literally living with these “ghosts” inside her house. As she battles to drive them away from her house, and her mind, she starts re-living her past – her marriage, her childhood, and everything else in between. In the end, though, she is forced to make a decision between staying sane, or letting her mind go, in what has now become a labyrinth of memories.

(Waiting For Sunset)
Genre: Drama
Rating: GP
Total Running Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
An old unmarried couple broke the monotony of their daily lives when the woman’s estranged husband reached out to them, seeking reconciliation and forgiveness.
Teresa and Celso is an unmarried couple trying to survive their mundane elderly life. They try to keep themselves busy. Gardening. Cooking new recipes. Making up petty quarrels. Throwing dinner parties. On the night of their anniversary, they will receive a phone call: Teresa’s estranged husband Benedicto is ill and needs someone to look after him. Teresa and Celso will go out of their way to take care of Benedicto. 

They will encourage him to seek treatment and to live the remaining days of his life. They will try their best to give whatever he needs. However, not all of them are easy to get, especially the forgiveness of his son Chito. This film is about love, companionship, and forgiveness. It is about moving forward by revisiting the past. On the twilight of our days, how do we really wait for the sun to set?

A man called Kuya Wes working in a money transfer company finds himself “in a relationship” with a regular client, a married woman who suffers from marital woes.
Kinilala siya bilang Kuya Wes, short for kuya Western Union. Simple lang at very routine ang buhay. Nakikitira lang siya sa kapatid na may sariling pamliya na. Tahimik lang siya sa bahay na ito, pag-uwi niya, ni hindi niya mahawakan ang remote control ng TV at nauubusan siya ng ulam. Minsan, magluluto ang kuya niya ng pagkain na allergic siya nang hindi man lang napapansin. Hindi siya makareklamo, wala siyang magawa. Kasi he never had the balls to say anything to his kuya. Pero sa loob ng isang maliit na Western Union sa Kamias, siya ang inaasahan ng lahat. He holds the money. Here he is needed. He is important. Kaya naman mahal na mahal niya ang trabaho niya. Highlight lagi sa buwan ni Kuya Wes ang ika-16th dahil sa araw na ito kumukuha ng padala si Erika, asawa ng isang OFW, kasama ang dalawa niyang anak. 

Patay na patay sa kanya si Wes na halos hindi makapagsalita tuwing magtatransact siya. Hanggang isang araw na maputol ang pagpapadala ng asawa ni Erika dahil hiniwalayan na siya nito. Naawa si Wes at nagdesisyon siyang tulungan si Erika at abutan ito ng pera galling sa sarili niyang bulsa. Suddenly, Wes finds himself “in a relationship” na parang surrogate husband. Unti-unti siyang nagbago. Nagkaroon ito ng confidence sa pakikisalamuha sa mga tao. Sa kanyang tingin sa sarili – isa na siyang asawa, tatay at provider ng isang pamilya and he has never felt more needed and more important than before. On the day na nagdesisyon si Wes to finally ask Erika na makipag-date, hindi na nagpunta si Erika sa Western Union. Sa pag-alala ni Wes, maglalakas loob siyang lumabas at hanapin ang bahay ni Erika. Nang matunton ang bahay ay malalaman ni Wes na nagbalik pala ang asawa ni Erika. Sa pangyayaring ito, tila mawawalan ng puwesto muli sa buhay si Wes.

The true story of a young mother who uses story-telling to protect her child from the reality of growing up in prison and the difficult life she endured.
Dakip is a happy four year living in old child who loves playing hide & seek with friends. He is jolly, witty and is well-loved by everyone. He could be considered a normal child if he wasn’t living with his parents in Camp Delgado, a prison for both criminals and rebels during the 80’s. He lives there with his mother,Day and father, Ric. In prison, he always hears of the name Liway. Allegedly, she is a diwata living in the forests of Mt. Kanlaon. His mom tells him the story of this diwata through shadow puppets. But Liway was an ordinary woman, forced by circumstances to flee the mountains where she became the leader of the forest creatures and became a diwata. 

Her first son had to be given away because life in the mountains is tough for a mortal. Their story is interrupted when a soldier comes looking for Liway and it is revealed that Day and Liway are one person. Liway was the nickname the media and the masses gave her when she became a commander of the rebel forces in the mountains, a life she has long turned away from. She was legendary for her beauty and tactics but she never truly believed in the politics of the movement. She was a catechist in a religious school, preaching liberation theology to farmers in the Sakada when her house was ransacked by the military. She was forced to flee to the mountains. She didn’t really believe in the communist ideology and remained steadfast to her faith. When her mother died, Day agreed with Ric to give away their first born child so that he will not grow up in the mountains.

A college student, his girlfriend and bestfriend get more than what they bargained for when they decide to learn about the dark days of Martial Law straight from an old retired soldier who may be one of its worst abusers.
To truly learn about the horrors of Martial Law, do teenagers today have to pay the ultimate price? Carlo, an unapologetically millennial college jock, thinks that Martial Law wasn’t all that bad. No one in his family had anything bad to say about it, all he’s ever read are Facebook posts that say human rights violations were exaggerated, and really, it’s all so long ago that he thinks people should just move on. Confronted by a frustrated History professor, Carlo sets out to prove he is right and looks for someone who lived through that period to tell the tale. This leads him to the Colonel, an old recluse living alone in a ramshackle house in Carlo’s neighborhood. The Colonel rarely gets out of the house, keeps to himself and is somewhat ignored by his neighbors. Carlo pays the old man a visit to interview him about what truly happened during the Marcos regime. What he doesn’t know is that the Colonel, is a high-ranking official during Martial Law and one of its dreaded executioners. 

He raped, tortured and killed student activists during the First Quarter Storm and all throughout Martial Law, and has never been held accountable for his actions. Now the Colonel spends the twilight of his years haunted by ghosts from his past, both real and imagined, waiting for some sort of reckoning. That reckoning comes when Carlo confronts him about his Martial Law days, awakening the evil that lurks within the old soldier; a reckoning that puts Carlo, his bestfriend and girlfriend, Jaze and Pats lives in danger. Shrouded in a haze of dementia, The Colonel sees Carlo and his friends as the activist youths of the 70’s and sets out to methodically torture, rape, and murder them. What started as a simple school assignment turns into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, and Carlo and Pat will have to endure every bit of brutality and abuse Marco that happened in the days of Martial Law. They soon realize that malevolence transcends time, and past horrors can just as easily put our present in danger. An intense, claustrophobic and provocative thriller, ML confronts the apathy of this generation towards the abuses and corruption that characterized late President Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law regime. Historical revisionism has distorted our views of the past and has altered our view of ourselves as Filipinos; ML warns us against the dangers of this collective amnesia, and reminds us that getting to where we want to be doesn’t necessitate forgetting where we were. Timely, controversial, and daring, ML will surely be one of the standouts of the 2018 Cinemalaya Film Festival.

(The Sweet Taste of Salted Bread and Undies)
An ill-stricken neighborhood living beside the Manila Railroad gets their dose of miracles from a wandering girl from the South, who violently hurts the sick as her magical way of healing them.
As old and rusty as the Manila railroad, Sal, a lonely panadero suffering from chronic kidney stones, wants nothing but to die. As every woman he loved left him via the Manila train, he too wishes for it to take his life. Sharing his sick, grey life along the riles are his neighbors – a barber with severe pasma, a Carinosa folk-dancer paralyzed by stroke, and a macho meat vendor with tumor in his breast. They all battle for dear life, hoping a miracle comes along the riles. The heavens answer their prayers with Aguy – a 10 year old palaboy. Literally named Aguy (aray in Bisaya) after her mother’s distressed childbirth, she’s left an orphan and is off to live on her own. 

She wanders from South to North, in search of a home. Aguy possesses an extraordinary gift – the ability to heal. When she sees someone in pain, she hurts them – by slapping their faces or punching their chests or anything violent - and they get healed. With a series of miracles, Sal and his barangay begin to experience life again. After inviting Aguy to stay in his bakery and forming an endearing bond, Sal wishes not to die anymore,but to get healed so he can take care of Aguy like his own daughter. But as Aguy is able to heal Sal’s sick neighbors, for some reason, she cannot heal her Tatay Sal. While Sal is at the peak of his pain, urinating with blood, Aguy realizes the only way she can heal him. With her heart breaking, she bids him farewell and rides off the Manila train. Through this sacrifice, this ultimate pain, Sal finally gets healed. That night, the heavens cry with him, a minute-long rain of crystalline salt pours all over Manila. After experiencing one miracle after another, life along the rilesI is off to a new start. Sal re opens his bakery, the aroma of freshly baked pandesal spreading over saline Manila.

(Unless the Water is Safer than the Land)
Dalawang batang Muslim naiipit sa gitna ng hidwaan ng kanilang mga angkan ay pagtatagpuin sa gitna ng kagubatan. Sa pitong araw na pagsasama sa gubat, matatagpuan nila ang kaligayahan at pagmamahal sa piling ng kalabang tinuring nang kaibigan.

Sa gitna ng walang katapusang kaguluhan sa Mindanao ay maiipit at mamumulat ang mga musmos sa karahasang dulot ng digma. Ngunit pumapaloob dito ang mas malalim pang gusot na nakaugat at nakabaon na sa sistema at kultura ng mga Muslim na tinatawag na “Rido”. Ang “Rido” ay salitang Maranao na karaniwang ginagamit sa Mindanao na tumutukoy sa matandang alitan ng mga angkan. Ito ay nailalarawan sa pamamagitan ng isang serye ng pagganti na gumagamit ng karahasan upang maghiganti sa isang pagdusta o kawalan ng katarungan – maging tunay man o palapalagay lamang.


In the Philippines, a photo of a young girl carrying a big rock and threatening to smash a car’s window amidst rush hour traffic made round online. She was high on rugby and was demanding for alms. The viral photo was even picked up by broadcast media and reported in evening news nationwide. This is her story. Maya, an 8 year old student from a remote province, is just walking home from school when school service stops beside her to ask for directions. She kindly answers with the intention to help. In return, the woman in the school service offers to take her home, and she innocently agrees so she can reach home faster. That is her one big mistake. To Maya’s horror, the service doesn’t stop at her place. 

And despite her pleas to be released, the driver would not listen to her. She soon realizes she has been taken, along with the other kids who are already ‘living’ inside the crammed school service. Maya finds herself hours and hours away from home, in a land foreign to her – the City of Manila. By dusk, the children are dropped off along the national highway so they can start working and begging for alms. 

Someone watches them from afar to make sure they don’t escape. Through the eyes of Maya, we see the conditions of these kept children, along with the other children living in the streets. All day long, they run after people, cars, buses, and jeeps, just to ask for money. They do things not fit for their age in exchange for a few coins. They do all kinds of tactics just to survive and just to have a better life. And everyday, it’s like chasing their dreams and freedom – it never happens. It is never close enough.

Genre: Drama
Rating: PG
Total Running Time: 100 minutes
Liza returns to the family that she abandoned 5 years ago and suddenly everyone is struggling. Struggling to stay civil. Struggling not to reopen old wounds. Struggling to stay together even though a secret from the past will always keep them apart.
Liza is still drowning in grief from losing the love of her life when she receives a visit from the most unlikely person—her husband, who she left for another woman five years ago. With no questions asked and no conditions, Anton invites her back to his and their two children’s lives. Liza hesitantly returns to her family. She feels out of place in what used to be her home. The guilt she carries around prevents her from making a real connection with her children. Their refusal to talk about the real reason that she left does not help improve their situation either. The length of Liza’s stay challenges the relationship of Anton with their children. Their eldest daughter, Karla, obviously resents Liza – especially when Liza finds out that Karla, too, is in love with another girl but can’t seem to come to terms with it. As the tension in the house rises, Liza contemplates leaving again and just let her family continue on with their lives without her. But Anton does not let Liza go. He knows how deep her pain is from losing Jen. He understands how much she needs to be surrounded by people who love her, whether she’s ready to be loved or not. Liza chooses to stay. The gravity of this man’s love for her is incomprehensible, but she is grateful. She stays and hopes that one day she’ll be able to offer him something more than just gratitude.

The Lookout is a story of love, betrayal, and revenge through the eyes of Lester Quiambao, a gay hired killer who has a score to settle from his past.

The Lookout tells a story of Lester Quiambao, a gay hired killer, whose abusive relationships in childhood propels him into a life of crime and depravity and compels him to betray Travis Concepcion, the man he loves, in order to exact his revenge.


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