Belyn and her son Popoy tread along the outstretched embankment from the rice fields to the town center. Together, they head towards Manang Martha’s house where Belyn serves as a washerwoman. The long walk to the big house has been part of their weekly practice. Only, this usual routine changes when Popoy is asked one day to come over Manang Martha’s house for an interrogation. She announces that her daughter’s golden watch is missing and the town seer pointed out that a male stole it.
However, Belyn stands firm to her faith that her son cannot do such a misdeed. On the course of the search for the golden watch and the suspects, Belyn’s name gets involved as a culprit. Suspicions and heated blames are brought up to the village authorities only to put them to worse entanglements. Rumors of the two stealing the watch spread around the small village.
Rigorous investigations for the missing watch also entail the painful quest for the truth. But in a system of well-crafted lies, truth proves to turn irrelevant. Belyn’s family remains in deep waters—the townsfolk continue to believe in false accusations, and her attempts to protect her son from disgrace are a crime in everyone’s eyes. In the end, Belyn’s family will be discriminated against and be deliberately avoided. People will keep out of their way as if they were real-life scarecrows of society.
Bambanti is an Iloko term which means alay-ay in Filipino, or ‘scarecrow’—a handcrafted human-like farming instrument that is devised to alarm birds, insects, or anything that poses threat to rice and corn crops.
It is written and directed by Zig Madamba Dulay and an official entry to Sinag Maynila Film Festival which is a collaboration project between Solar Entertainment and acclaimed director Brillante Mendoza.
As someone who worked with Zig in some movies, I would say that this is his most well-crafted movie yet. I have observed how the director worked on every detail conscientiously and with patience, as if we weren’t bound by shooting time (yep, even budget).
I also got the chance to be part of the project as script supervisor where I was tasked to ensure the authenticity of the dialogues. The movie is set in a small town in Luna, Isabela where Ilocano is the mother tongue. As such, the actors had to learn the language. Luckily for me, the casting director found actors with a gift with words, and I did not have a hard time coaching them. They threw Ilocano and Filipino lines together and still mindful about which accent should be stressed on which language. They enunciated well, joked and cursed in Ilocano like the locals. But more than speaking Ilocano, I commend the actors (Alessandra de Rossi, Shamaine Buencamino, Julio Diaz, Delphine Buencamino, Erlinda Villalobos, Kiki Baento, Abegail Edillo, and Micko Laurente) for such an ingenious portrayal of their characters.
Segue: I’m happy because this is the first project that I worked ‘with’ Jessica Zafra (subtitlist) even if we didn’t see each other and she doesn’t have an idea who the hell I was. But still (!!!)
“Bambanti” is the kind of movie that Isabelinos would enjoy watching. The director, Zig Dulay made way for spaces, took good advantage of tensions. It was rather subtle, without being a drag or imposing. It has a simple plot, set in a simple vilage in the province, and the director needed only that. The film would not rob you the liberty to think and make speculations about who stole the goddamn watch; and perhaps towards the end, you’d find yourself as a minuscule part to the story.
I am writing this to invite you to watch and not to glorify the project. If it were my purpose, I could have just easily linked several reviews of the movie by acclaimed film critics. I assure that watching it is worth the effort, time, and money.
I am inviting you to watch “Bambanti” and the other participating films in the Sinag Maynila Film Festival: “Ninja Party” by Jim Libiran, “Swap” by Remton Zuasola, “Imbisibol” by Lawrence Fajardo, and “Balut Country” by Paul Sta. Ana. Let’s support Filipino filmmakers and the whole local filming industry.
Here is the schedule of the screenings in different SM Malls around Metro Manila.