HEROES live among us, and usually they start becoming one through simple acts of selflessness and dedication.

Dwelling on social realism, Haw-Ang looks into the story of a missionary nun who becomes a catalyst and an advocate of hope and faith amidst a world of turmoil and conflicts. Directed by indie filmmaker Bong Ramos, Haw-Ang (“before harvest” in the Ifugao dialect Tuwali) is a story of heroism amid the challenges posed by cultural and ideological clashes.

Set in the panoramic Banawe rice terraces, the film narrates the meditation of Ifugao native Dacmay Tangliban as she returns to her native roots after 14 years. The flashbacks show the struggles she shared with Sister Adel (Kalila Aguilos), a nun with a mission to change and uplift Dacmay’s conflict-ridden society. The nun tries to defy the odds in a village driven by tribal conflicts, as well as the clash of the Christian religion with Ifugao culture. Sister Adel does not make headlong progress at first as the Ifugao folk relentlessly give her the cold shoulder. Even Dacmay initially looks at Sister Adel as a meddler.

Slowly Sister Adel’s perseverance pays off. But a further complication occurs when she falls in love with Isagani (Neil Sese), Dacmay’s father, endangering her religious vows.

Eye-catching cinematography aids the movie’s transition from Dacmay’s return to her recollections of Sister Adel’s heroic enterprise. Haw-Ang presents wonderful backdrops and effective character portrayals, making its story genuine. Aguilos stands out as Sister Adel, showing the character’s strength and determination to be a leader among an estranged people. The film is a heartwarming story of perseverance, emphasizing the values of tradition, education and faith.

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Haw-Ang had its world premiere last July 26 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines as part of the 3rd Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival.

It is officially recommended by the Department of Education National Capital Region and will be commercially screened in SM cinemas by August 8. Maria Aurora F. Mon

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