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Looking in, not just looking back, with ‘Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon’

That everyone will age, and yet not everyone will have lived is what “Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon (Waiting for Sunset)” by Carlo Enciso Catu is trying to capture – i.e. lessons not just in aging but in living, and sharing the same.

This is part of FRINGE MAGAZINE’s coverage of Cinemalaya 2018. Themed “Wings of Vision”, the 14th iteration of the annual indie film fest is said to continue to “discover, encourage and support the cinematic works of upcoming and veteran Filipino filmmakers who boldly articulate and freely interpret the Philippine experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity.” So here’s a closer look at whether the films do exactly that.

The title is apparent – i.e. about aging and even dying. But that everyone will age, and yet not everyone will have lived is what Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon (Waiting for Sunset) by Carlo Enciso Catu is trying to capture – i.e. lessons not just in aging but in living, and sharing the same.

THE STORY

Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon tells the story of an odd throuple: Teresa (Perla Bautista) and her partner Celso (Menggie Cobarrubias), and Teresa’s estranged husband Benedicto (Dante Rivero).

While living a mundane elderly life (e.g. When are the kids visiting?), Teresa received a phone call from Benedicto. He is terminally ill; and – while not asking for her to look after him – thought only of him just as he’s about to die.

Teresa and Carlo then end up looking after Benedicto.

Along the way, they share lessons on love, companionship and forgiveness to move forward.

THE GOOD

  1. Story’s good. Cinemalaya 2018 has a handful of stories tackling aging – e.g. Mamang by Denise O’Hara and Pan De Salawal (The Sweet Taste of Salted Bread and Undies) by Anna Francesca. But this is the one that looks “polished” – e.g. sequential narrative/storytelling.
  2. Stellar cast. If I’m asked to describe in just one word this cast, the word I’d choose is “Experienced.” You can see this in the Perla Bautista’s anguished face when getting bad news; or even in the seemingly nonsensical chats between her character and her partner Celso (Menggie Cobarrubias). It was almost like letting the thespians do what they do best; with the director not needing to do anything anymore but just savor the fruits of his good decision to hire these really good people.
    And then there’s Romnick Sarmenta in a role that isn’t pa-cute. That he “matured” may not be very apparent on his face (he’s aging oh-so-gracefully); but the acting has. Forget the “loud” acting of his heartthrob days; this one knows nuance.
  3. Good camera handling. At least generally speaking.
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THE NOT SO GOOD

  1. The director’s penchant for wide shots was good in capturing the mood – e.g. gloom of the dilapidated bahay na bato (stone-house).
    But this was also limiting in some scenes that – from my perspective – needed close shots – e.g. it would have been interesting seeing Teresa’s face as she was climbing the stairs leading to her former house (where her former husband still lived). It was almost as if the director did not trust that his actors will deliver, so he just showed them from a distance…
  2. There were shots that were too dark. Yes, this may have been intentional to capture “gloom”; but when you don’t know what you’re supposed to be seeing anymore, then there’s an error in that shot already…
  3. Make-up that was too apparent at times – e.g. when Teresa was in bed (seriously, Filipino make-up artists need to lessen their applications when prepping people who are supposed to be sleeping); and when Benedicto was about to die.
  4. Some lines were “leading” (and too telling at that) – e.g. they just talked about not going to the beach; and then (VOILA!) the last shot is by the beach. This narrative could have been injected into the story earlier; instead, it just sounded contrived because of #5 below.
  5. That ending may have looked poetic; but it was also hokey, as if placed there only because of the title (i.e. the literal dapithapon/sunset).
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IN THE END

Perhaps playing with socially constructed expectations re aging – i.e. that it is spent “slowly”, this one is not for those looking for “noise”. Two young women in front of me were busy sending messages though their gadgets from halfway until the end of the film; and one gay guy beside them was attempting to open Grindr. Their gadgets were too bright and garish not to be noticed, breaking the “solemn” mood set by the film.

But for those willing to get lost in this movie, it’s a gem. Forget the saccharine parts; there’s a gem there waiting for sure…

Running time: 90 mins

CAST:
Dante Rivero, Menggie Cobarrubias, Perla Bautista, Romnick Sarmenta, Che Ramos, Ryan Ronquillo, Jacqueline Cortez, Dunhill Banzon & Stanley Abuloc

PRODUCTION:
Director Carlo Enciso Catu • Executive Producer Cineko Productions • Producer Omar Sortijas • Supervising Producer Derick Cabrido • Line Producer Flordeliza Hombre-Milan • Screenplay John Carlo Pacala • Cinematography Neil Daza • Editor Mark Cyril Bautista • Production Design Marielle Hizon • Sound Design Immanuel Verona • Music Richard Gonzales • Location Manager Rhoda Navarro & Rhoda Mercado

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