Movie: Ang Katiwala

"Ang Katiwala"

Ruben loses his job as a carpenter in a small town in Zambales where he lives with his wife Edna and their 10-­‐year old son, Budoy. Desperate to make ends meet, he accepts a job as a caretaker of an abandoned property in Quezon City. Ruben soon finds out that the previous owner of the house is an important figure in the country’s history.

I must say, I’m very conflicted as to what I want to say about Ang Katiwala.

Overall, I liked it. But for the entirety of the film, I kept expecting ghouls or monsters to pop out without a moment’s notice. Which, I feel, detracted a lot from the message the film wants to say.

Ang Katiwala tells the story of a caretaker who just wants to make ends meet. But as he explores the life of Manuel L. Quezon, the previous owner of the house he’s taking care of, he begins to dream. The former president’s life story is full of trials, but he managed to come up on top. He managed to become president, and went on to become instrumental in the country’s fight for true independence. And as Ruben, the caretaker, absorbs the late president’s life story, he thinks that he can overcome his obstacles too. He starts to believe that he too can be as great as Manuel L. Quezon.

But not everyone is destined for greatness. Some of us are just placeholders, waiting for the time when greatness will arrive.

Now, let’s go back to why I kept expecting monsters to pop out:

The film is dark. Not figuratively dark, it’s just dark. And because the main location (the house), is so old and so empty, you can’t help but feel a sense of foreboding. Every movement of shadow made me narrow my eyes, waiting for a spirit to disengage from a furniture, or for a creature to rise from the grounds of the house. And during one of the film’s climactic scenes, I wasn’t alone in thinking that a bad guy wasn’t just a bad guy, but rather, a zombie. Especially with the actor’s shamble.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the visuals. I love the darkness of the film. I just don’t think it suited the film well, as it nudged viewers (me) into feeling the movie was something else than what it was. Then again, what could have been done to change it? Taking away the darkness would also strip the house of the mystery it holds. So it’s a bit problematic, isn’t it?

But these are just my musings. Why don’t you check out the film for yourself?

Ang Katiwala will still screen at the following venues, date and time:
July 26: 9:00PM – Little Theater (CCP)
July 27: 1:30PM – Greenbelt 3 / 6:15PM – MKP (CCP)
July 28: 4:00PM – Trinoma / 9:00PM – Tanghalang Huseng Batute (CCP)
July 29: 1:30PM – Greenbelt 5

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