Cinemalaya 2009: Sanglaan


Cinemalaya is annually held here in the Philippines every July. It aims to promote and develop Filipino independent films. Every year, ten finalists are shown in the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) that were sifted from around a hundred entries. The first day of showing commences on the day of the festival. Laurice Guillen heads this committee. She and the rest of the organizers hope that through Cinemalaya, the filmmakers could freely express and form their own thoughts and beliefs in any given issue or subject without worrying about commercialism.

Cinemalaya 2009 is dubbed as CINEMALAYA CINCO because this is the 5th film festival here already. It was formally opened last July 17 and will run until July 26. The ten full-length films are:

"24K" directed by Ana Agabin
"Ang Nerseri (The Nursery)" by Vic Acedillo, Jr.
"Ang Panggagahasa kay Fe" by Alvin Yapan
"Astig (Mga Batang Kalye)" by GB Sampedro
"Colorum" by Jon Steffan Ballesteros
"Dinig Sana Kita" by Mike Sandejas
"Engkwentro" by Pepe Diokno
"Last Supper No. 3" by Veronica Velasco and Jinky Laurel
"Mangatyanan (The Blood Trail)" by Jerrold Tarog
"Sanglaan" by Milo Sogueco

I wish I can watch all ten because I always want to support Filipino films. However, I have to choose only one because aside from budgetary concerns, the screening schedules are sometimes conflicting and the venue (CCP) is far from where I live. So for obvious reasons that my friends will surely know, I chose Sanglaan. We catched the Sunday screening at 9PM at Huseng Batute Theater. Ticket price is Php100. Students get 50% off.

Sanglaan is directed by Milo Sogueco. The veteran and revered actress Tessie Tomas gives her support in the film as she plays the main character, Olivia, who owns and manages a small pawnshop. It depicted the life of a pawnshop operator who is on the verge of closing down her business for various reasons.For one, her son in the United States has petitioned her; and secondly, because she feels she is slowly losing the battle against the bigger names of pawnshops around her. At the same time, Sanglaan showed the life of many Filipinos who resort to pawning their jewelries and appliances for quick cash and to make ends meet.

Although I appreciated the story overall and the lessons it tried to impart, I felt that there were so many loose subplots and broken scenes that hardly mattered to the central theme. I was looking forward to getting a dose of Milo Sogueco's thoughts about the social impact of pawnshops in the Philippines but instead I received bits and pieces of scenes that went nowhere. After the show, I left the theater quite disappointed.

For me, it would have been a special film that will give the audience a chance to take a closer look at the local pawnshop industry, especially since most viewers of Cinemalaya 2009 are generally well-off and have hardly any experience in pawning. The film could have made the audience understand more how relevant these pawnshops are to the Philippine society.

For what it's worth, you can still catch Cinemalaya Cinco's Sanglaan plus the other nine films until July 26. You can check the screening schedules at

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