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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.

Nov 3, 2023



‘SILA AY AKIN’ is a serious potrait of a poor family whose members are all trying to survive amidst the trials and tribulations that a harsh life in the city offers to them. 

Since it’s shown via streaming on Vivamax, it has the obligatory sex scenes, but they don’t detract from the integrity of the film’s core, which is about touching close family relationships amidst dehumanizing poverty.

Ricky Lee is credited for the story, but the full script is credited to him and Mac Alejandre, who also directed the movie. The film is narrated by Marites (Azi Acosta), the first character we see who’s in a bus from Baguio to Manila. She is with JC (Victor Relosa), her live in partner who’s been away from his family for three years.

JC is a hot-headed young man whose volatile temper often gets him into fights. He just had a big conflict with a group in Baguio and to cool things off, they’re now returning to his mom, Celing (Angie Castrence), who lives in a small shack in a slum area in the city where everyone makes an attempt to escape from the pervasive poverty.

Celing is happy to see him and Marites, who she meets for the first time. Living with her is her older son, Pao (Vince Rillon) and his common law wife, Josie (Angeli Khang), plus an orphaned rape victim, Queenie (Ces Garcia), who the generous Celing has adopted.

They are living in penury, but they’re very happy with each other and have no relationship problems. Pao works as a macho dancer in a gay bar and JC eventually joins him. Both Josie and Marites accept the kind of job that their common law husbands do. 

Josie is so understanding she even allows Pao to be in a serious relationship with a gay man, Alan (Gerald Madrid), who wants to take him to the USA so he can later petition Josie and his mom to join him and they can all have a new life in the land of milk and honey.

JC gets into trouble again with the neighborhood tough guys and he puts the law in his own hands when some of them raped Queenie and hurt their mother.

The film starts with him arriving and it ends with him leaving again to hide from the authorities. 

It can be quite depressing, but the film doesn’t end with unrelenting pessimism but with a ray of hope, indicating that no one surrenders despite some setbacks. Life will just have to go on for them and all the other characters. 

There have been films about macho dancers before, like “Macho Dancer” and “Twilight Dancers”, also written by Ricky Lee, but this is the first time the material is told from the point of view of the women in their lives. 

This is a very neorealistic look at life among the economically deprived working class people living at the bottom of society who can hardly make ends meet and do unconventional jobs most people in the upper strata look down upon. 

The film is uniformly well acted by the main cast.

Azi Acosta does a fine job as the narrator. She is touching in her farewell scene with Victor Relosa as they say goodbye to each other. 

Victor proves once again that he is one of the most capable among the new studs today in the Vivamax camp.

Angeli Khang shines in her scene with Gerald Madrid where she asks him: “Bakit mo ginagamit ang America para masilaw si Pao?” 

And Gerald himself does well as the macho gay who is in love with Vince Rillon and tries his best to please him and his family.

Also giving good support is Andrea Garcia as Liza, a bar girl who falls for JC even if she knows that he is already in a relationship with Marites.

It’s a short role but Andrea shines as you’d really believe she’s an amoral lady of the night, specially in that scene where Azi confronts and she says: “O masaya ka na, namura mo na ko?”

But the one who really stands out in the movie is Angie Castrence as the mother.

She was also good as the meddlesome aunt of Elijah Canlas in “Gameboys 2”, but she has a longer role and more exposure here.

In all fairness, she just radiates in all of them, particularly in that scene where she tells the troublesome JC: “Para kang tatay mo.”