Wednesday, August 8, 2018



Born in a prison camp for rebels and criminals, Dakip (Kenken Nuyad) spends his childhood deprived of seeing the outside world. His mother Day (Glaiza de Castro) tries her best to provide some semblance of normalcy through imagination by telling him stories featuring an enchantress called Liway. Her husband Ric (Dominic Roco) thinks it’s a bad idea, but it’s not like they have a lot of options anyway. As more and more citizens begin to march against Martial Law, the family sees a glimmer of hope that they can hold onto for getting their lives back but this is almost immediately crushed as the threat for detained rebels grow ever larger. Not wanting her son to suffer a fate that he does not deserve, Day has to make a quick and hard decision to save his life.

As the credits begin to roll we get the usual epilogue notes common in movies based on real life events. One of them says that a decision to change Dakip’s name is made after his baptism, changing it to just Kip. The next thing you see after this is: Written and Directed by KIP Oebanda.

Everyone in the theater went ballistic. It just hits you, that feeling that you need to partake in the celebration. We all know that this narrative is true-to-life, but perhaps not a lot of people expected it to be this personal. When it dawns on you, what this child went through, and then you realize that he is here alive and kicking, the feeling is inexplicable, like a contagious energy that simply inspires. He literally lived to tell the tale, and did so in such a way that not only his mother, but many of us, will be proud of.

The thing about narratives with smart aleck kids is that it can get borderline annoying. Nuyad almost ends up being such, but perhaps the darkness of the premise just offsets that annoyance. He is that small beacon of hope in this otherwise humorless story, that little ball of innocence that the audience can rally behind to counter the heaviness of the plot.

As for de Castro, this girl has nothing to prove anymore as far as acting is concerned. She is one of those rare actresses who can shine in both indie and mainstream offerings. As the main protagonist of the story, she steps up and makes you feel Liway’s candor, Liway’s guts, Liway’s helplessness. That she was on almost everyone’s list to win Best Actress is not baseless at all, but her real triumph is breathing life into this role and paving the way for this family’s story to be told. Any award on top of that is just a mere bonus.

It has been said time and again that we Filipinos have a very short collective memory. We need not look back all the way to Martial Law. Just look at where the convicted ex-presidents are as of the moment. And that was just when, a decade ago? Movies like Liway end up seemingly propagandist, too political for the common taste. But if we don’t keep history alive by telling the stories that define it, the tales that do not usually make it to the public’s consciousness because the people involved are not popular or don’t wield any power, then how are we to evolve as a nation? This film will not change that. After all, we’re still a nation populated by a lot of idiots. Even then, it’s a start.

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