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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Aug 5, 2013

Nuwebe Review: Jake Cuenca & Nadine Samonte Ill Advised To Do This Badly Realized Indie Flick

BASED ON the true story of a 9-year old who’s impregnated by her own father, “Nuwebe” has a very promising material but, unfortunately, Director Joseph Laban fails to mine it well. There are so many things that went wrong in transferring the story on the big screen. First is in the casting. The parents are Jake Cuenca and Nadine Samonte, both very fair mestizo and mestiza. Their child is played by Barbara Miguel, a dark-skinned girl who looks more like she’s just 7 than 9.

They’re supposed to be very poor. Nadine works as a housemaid but her hair is dyed with streaks of brown. The movie starts with Jake working in a slaughterhouse and pigs are actually shown being butchered on the big screen. He’s fired by his boss for filching some pork he intends to serve in his daughter’s birthday party. On his way home, he invites everyone he sees to attend the party and you’d wonder what they’ll serve as he only got a few pieces of pork to serve to them.

Jake is a drunkard and has the habit of masturbating, so it comes as a surprise when he turns out to be a pastor in a barong delivering a homily. But he’s delivering his homily inside a Catholic church, the domain of priests, not pastors. Jake should be commended for being adventurous in playing various kinds of roles but he’s ill advised to do this project that certainly won’t help forward his career at all. Ditto for Nadine who’s doing her first indie film and is shown giving a blow job to an unknown actor.

At first, Nadine can’t accept that her daughter is pregnant and insists that the “nuno sa punso” is just putting a hex on her. What’s funny is that the mound of the “nuno” is movable, travels around, and even gets inside their “bahay kubo”. There are so many other innocuous, ridiculous things in this movie, like that teenage girl in the home for unwed moms who tells Barbara that she should just have enjoyed what her father did to her, as she herself is having sex with her own dad.

The movie is really a mess and the girl who’s supposed to be a victim is not even sympathetic. She’s given lines that cannot be uttered by a 9 year old girl, like “kung pagpapatawad ang basehan nito, hindi ito matatapos.” And the acting of Barbara is so such hardcore soap and not at all natural, especially in her monologue scenes where she talks directly to the camera.

The most crucial element of the story is not even tackled: how Jake did it to his daughter. She’s just pregnant right away. An opportunity missed indeed as the act of rape is supposed to be the most horrifying element in the film and yet they choose not to see or refer to it at all.