Cinemalaya 13 in review, Part 3: “Nabubulok,” “Bagahe,” “Requited”


This year’s roster of Cinemalaya independent films is again impressive, featuring a diverse set of directors, actors and narratives. With a larger number of “millennials” this year, the biggest independent film festival centers on the development of new norms for the “indie” scene. More mainstream actors took the helm, developing audience appreciation in the process.

Headlined by sought-after directors and rookies, this year’s theme of “seeing the bigger picture” was represented in an array of contrasting films. The Varsitarian rounds up the eight films in a three-part review.


Actress Gina Alajar stars in Sonny Calvento’s “Nabubulok,” a real-life inspired film following the story of a couple fight that leads to murder. Screengrab from YouTube.

MIRED in dark themes such as murder and infidelity, Sonny Calvento’s “Nabubulok” is a series of intriguing clips that leaves its audience awed.

The story follows American Jason Harper (Billie Ray Gallion) and his three kids’ preparations to flee the country. Jason’s unfaithful wife Luna (Sue Prado), as the early parts of the film suggests, is murdered by the American inside their home, prompting him to expedite the processing of his family’s exit papers.

But the sudden absence of Luna arouses suspicion in the neighborhood. Ingrid (Gina Alajar), Luna’s cousin who lives nearby, is quick to sense foul play and seeks evidence against Jason. Although reluctant at first, Ingrid’s family decides to probe into Luna’s murder.

The film veers away from the clichés of a puzzle-after-puzzle story progression. It does not try to conceal what is obvious but rather exposes them early, without sacrificing overall thrill.


Indie film and theater actress Angeli Bayani portrays a sexually abused overseas worker in “Bagahe.” Screengrab from YouTube.

ZIG Dulay’s “Bagahe” is a fresh addition to the roster of brave local films portraying the struggles of many overseas Filipino workers under their abusive employers.

Mercy Agbunag (Angeli Bayani) suffers a tedious ordeal after abandoning her newborn baby in a garbage bin of an airplane bathroom. As the story unfolds, it is revealed that Mercy is a rape victim, traumatized by her unfortunate experience as a domestic helper.

Investigators pick her up in her home in Benguet. She is later on advised to stay with social workers while her case is being processed and her behavior is observed.

The film, however, fails to relay Mercy’s suffering through her own voice. The narrative is instead told by people around her whose ways happen to be problematic and more concerned with established rules and guidelines rather than Mercy’s welfare.


“Requited” tells the story of ex-lovers Matt (Jake Cuenca) and Sandy (Anna Luna) and their long-overdue bicycle trip to Mt. Pinatubo in Zambales. Screengrab from YouTube.

WRITTEN and directed by UST alumna Nerissa Picadizo, “Requited” is a simple adventure film with some dark scenes and a little drama.

The film begins with Matt (Jake Cuenca) biking through the busy roads of EDSA up to Pampanga, while ignoring calls from someone named Sandy (Anna Luna). The first part of the film is quiet until Sandy catches up with Matt on the road, and the audience later learns that the two are ex-lovers who long ago planned a bike trip to the north.

The two engage in blame games, but end up continuing the trip together anyway.

The film impresses in its technical aspects but there are some inconsistencies in the plot. Overall, it is not bad for an audience looking for a light, adventure-themed film with some comic relief.

Related stories:

Pinoy hip-hop given new light in indie film

Cinemalaya 13 in review, Part 1: ‘Baconaua,’ ‘Ang Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha,’ and ‘Kiko Boksingero’

Cinemalaya 13 in review, Part 2: “Sa Gabing Nanahimik ang mga Kuliglig” and “Ang Guro Kong Di Marunong Magbasa”


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