Director: Laurice Guillen
Running time: 112 minutes
Synopsis and Evaluation
Perhaps two of the most important aspects in a Filipino’s life are God and family. It’s a disputable claim for some but we are a nation who values relationship with God and relatives a superlative facet of life, above anything else. Most families go to church every Sunday and pray the rosary together every day. Family reunions are a huge deal for us, a mandatory event so to speak. Sons and daughters support their parents almost throughout the remaining lives of the latter, a way of showing their gratitude even if they are not obligated by nature or law. It’s a unique characteristic to us Filipinos, our yearning for company and eternal salvation unparalleled.
Tanging Yaman, written and directed by Laurice Guillen, take these two aspects of a typical Filipino family into an interwoven tale of greed, jealousy, rivalry and redemption. This is a poignant film, perhaps trying too much to be very emotional, about three siblings who are very different to each other. There’s Danny (Johnny Delgado) who went astray during a period in his life, have aged penniless but have a very strong relationship with his wife, children and mother. Then there’s Art (Edu Manzano) who is very successful in his career but distant from everybody else, forcing his own will to everybody. Finally, there’s Grace (Dina Bonnevie) who is living in the US together with her family, transforming into a money-centric monster at the expense of her relationship with her husband and children. At the center of this is their mother, Loleng (Gloria Romero), who later was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Each sibling has his/her own reason; they attempt to sell an 80-hectare land to a commercial developer. Grace and Art somewhat connived to leave out Danny from partaking a portion from the sale proceeds. Danny, protecting their mother, is quite hesitant to proceed with such plan. This triggered a chain of events that motivated each one of them to reflect on what they have become; what happened to each one of them that made them distant to each other not just in terms of physical proximity but also in their relationship with each other. The past was brought out in the open, explaining the reasons why their relationships have been tarnished ever since.
This is a story that will appeal to a typical Filipino. It was weaved and told in a very simple manner, straightforward so to speak, that it directly speaks to us. It leaves an indelible mark to our minds that in spite of everything wrong that we would do, our (immediate) family will always be there for us for guidance and support. Danny, the black sheep, the prodigal son that expended his inheritance to worldly activities, was accepted by his mother with open arms. Art, despite his authoritarian and materialistic qualities was forgiven by everybody, his own family including. And there’s Grace, whose husband Francis (Joel Torre) painstakingly put up with her intolerable attitude ever since they got married.
During the sequence when Rommel (Jericho Rosales) went missing, the whole family gathered in prayer for his safety. This is a scenery directly taken from a typical Filipino family, together asking God for His compassion and mercy; where God is the center of most Filipino households; where everything is conveyed and linked to God’s actions. The whole movie itself is a prayer of Loleng, who prayed intently to God for his children’s reconciliation and peace. This speaks of our trust to God, or to the Christian faith in particular.
While the film is very heartwarming, it suffered from some melodramatic and over-sensationalized scenes. One such scene is the drowning scene of Rommel where an angel supposedly saved him. It’s too artsy and dramatic for my taste. This is a sappy, tearjerker movie that is slightly influenced by a certain element present in almost all Filipino telenovelas. Nevertheless, it’s a good film that is focused, coherent and well-executed that elevated it above telenovela-level.
The Final Word
Tanging Yaman is not a unique film by all means. It’s such a simple film that will manage to touch a viewer’s heart. Nevertheless, it’s a heartwarming tale of a Filipino family trying to set things straight; trying to rekindle the happy moments of the distant past; trying to correct mistakes committed; and trying to repair the tainted bond. Its simplicity might just be its greatest asset.