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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.

Jan 10, 2016

Imbisibol Review: One Of The Best Local Films About OFW's

‘IMBISIBOL’ won several awards at last year’s Sinag Maynila Filmfest, including best picture, best director for Lawrence Fajardo, best actor and actress for Allen Dizon and Ces Quesada, and various technical awards. It is based on a Virgin Labfest play about TNT (tago ng tago) Filipinos working illegally in Japan. First is Benjie (Bernardo Bernardo) who has two jobs. His day job is working in a factory and at night, he works in a club. He becomes miserable when his longtime companion (Ricky Davao) is suddenly arrested and deported back home.

Then there’s Manuel (Allen Dizon), an aging hosto with a gambling problem who no longer attracts female clients and has problems sending money to his family in the Philippines. Last is Rodel (JM de Guzman), a new worker in a lumber yard whose rivalry with an older Filipino worker (JC Santos) ends in tragedy.
There’s a fourth Filipino character, Linda (Ces Quesada), who’s married to a Japanese and is not an illegal alien. She has her own problem as her husband is forcing to evict all the overstaying illegal aliens renting in their apartments as they might get her into trouble, but she just doesn’t have the guts to do it.

There have been many films about the plight of OFW’s film but this is the first one that is shot on location in wintry Japan. It’s done with the familiar indie style of scenes in long takes with very little camera movement. Avoiding to be melodramatic, it feels almost detached, like it doesn’t want to get too involved with the conflicts that the protagonists are going through. But somehow, you can’t help but feel sad for most of the characters and you get this feeling that sometime soon, something bad is going to happen. And it does.

This is not your typical feel good movie. So if you’re just after superficial entertainment, it surely won’t sit well with you. But it's quite technically well crafted and of all the other works of Fajardo, this is the one that we appreciate the most. The acting is uniformly very good, from the four leads to the newcomers recruited from the Filipinos in Japan, particularly the matron who Allen tries to seduce but gets so annoyed with him she dumps him. Allen himself is so credible as the over-the-hill “hosto”, something he has done before as the macho dancer past his prime in “Twilight Dancers”.