Love in the time of a festival

For most love stories, those that are set in the time of vacations and colorful festivals almost always seem to have that backdrop and atmosphere of a light-comic pop movie, complete with colorful costumes and the festivities of the affair.

But Gugma sa Panahon Sang Bakunawa is more than just your average love story. Writer and director Peter Solis Nery explores themes of morality, economic success, and the struggle to find the balance between the two surprisingly opposing factors in the backdrop of a fictitious festival.

“I’ve always wanted to make a film about any of our colorful festivals, something like a movie to promote Philippine tourism,” says Peter.

Delving deeper into the story, one finds that the main struggle here is between the loss of morals brought on by the Bakunawa Festival (which, apparently, was a festival invented by lead character Matt’s grandmother) and the fact that it has also become a source of employment and success for the people in Isla Pulang Pasayan.

In Gugma sa Panahon Sang Bakunawa, we find Matt, a struggling musician who goes back to his hometown. There he meets a girl by the beach, Dulce Amor, whom he falls in love with. Their love story is set against the colorful Bakunawa Festival.

As Nery’s first full-length 109-minute feature film, Gugma sa Panahon Sang Bakunawa is in the Hiligaynon language with English subtitles. It has seen both local and international audiences, and both parties have received the film with open arms and positive praise.

“We didn’t get the box-office hit status that I expected, but we had a decent run,” says Peter. “Our only big consolation was that everybody in attendance only had praise and admiration for our movie.”

It premiered in Davao City from June 29 to July 5 as part of the 1st Sineng Pambansa National Film Competition. Because of its Hiligaynon language, Peter also felt that it had to be screened in Iloilo City for the appreciation of Ilonggos and Hiligaynon speakers, which was held last September.

Gugma sa Panahon Sang Bakunawa was shown in Singapore last September 9 at the Lasalle College for the Arts, under the facilitation of faculty member Professor Rashid bin Saini. Here, the film was well received by Filipino migrant workers as well as foreigners, despite the limits of its six-day airing.

Just recently, the Film Development Council of the Philippines has recommended the film to the Thessaloniki Film Festival in Greece. It seems as if Gugma Sa Panahon Sang Bakunawa has a lot more achievements to achieve all over the world.

Peter is currently a writer and a nurse based in Los Angeles. His first film is a silent short entitled “Dumangas 2010,” which also has a shorter version released on YouTube. Entitled Dabadaba, the condensed version contains some dialogue.

Gugma sa Panahon Sang Bakunawa stars talents like Eman Abatayo as Matt Luces Feliciano, Priscilla Fontana as Dulce Amor, Jet Alcantara as Emilio, and Madeline Doronilla as Mercedes Luces.

Check out its official trailer in YouTube :


© Gel Galang & Spot Reviews: September 18, 2012