SA PAGPATAK NG LUHA NI MA’ROSA
Muli na namang napabilang at napailalim ang manonood sa pisikal na kapaligiran at piniling tanghalan ng cinema ni Brillante Ma. Mendoza. Ito ay cinema ng mga bagay na nakahuhuminding at apokaliptiko sa pagsisiwalat ng mga katotohanan sa kasulukuyang takbo ng buhay.
Cinema rin ito ng minutiae (mga pakete ng droga at Magic Sarap noodles, baryang sukli, kalendaryo ng Divine Mercy, ads sa billboards, lechong manok na pinagpiyestahan ng mga pulis sa presinto, atbp); ng nakaraan at ng kasalukuyan (korapsyon ng lahat sa lahat, pagdura sa batas at kapwa, pagtalikod sa mga aral ng kasaysayan); at ng kababawan, kanipisan, o kaiklian ng mga kondisyon ng buhay ng tao. Higit sa lahat, isang cinema ito sa pinagtatanghalan ng pagsusuri at pagtistis ni Mendoza nang paulit-ulit sa mga pangyayari sa labas ng buhay ng isang tao, pamilya, at komunidad upang isiwalat ang hinihinging bago at malikhaing para-paraan ng pag-unawa, pag-iisip, o pagmumuni-muni sa realidad upang ang manonood ay makatuklas ng halimbawa ng pagtimbang sa kanyang sariling paraan ng pag-iisip sa buhay at kung paano magiging makabuluhan sa kanyang kapaligiran.
Ganito ang nais gawin ni Mendoza sa paglalantad ng makulimlim na kulay ng realidad sa kanyang pelikula, at maging ng pinakamadalim na yugto ng salaysay ng buhay ni Rosario Reyes, a.k.a. Ma’ Rosa (Jaclyn Jose), pusher o tulak sa kanyang kinabibilangang komunidad sa isang masikip na tirahan sa lunsod. Maybahay siya ni Nestor (Julio Diaz), elektrisyan at pangunahing parokyano ng neggosyo ng asawa. Apat ang anak nila.
Sa isa na naming manigning na palikula ni Brillante Ma. Mendoza, inilahad niya ang lagkit ng putik na nakakulapol sa buhay ng mga tauhang kumikita at nabubuhay sa pagbebenta ng bawal na gamut, at kung paanong sa pagtagal ng panahon, ang putik ay kumakalat sa iba hanggang sa umabot sa punto ng pagkahuli sa kanila ng pulisya, na putik din pala na walang kapantay ang higpit ng kapit.
Sa pambungad ng eksena pa lamang, ibinunyag na ang namamayaning kultura, kapital, katawan at lenggwaheng pundasyon ng buhay na iyon. Pag-hassle sap era ang perokupasyon, bunga ng kakulangan ng marami sa kakayahan magtrabaho nang pormal, pagdidilihensiya ang kinauuwian ng paghahanapbuhay. Short-changing o pagkupit ang praktis hung hindi man lantarang pagnanakaw. Kendi lang ang iniabot na tip ni ‘Ma Rosa sa batang tumulong sa kanyang kumuha ng taxi. Ibinaba naman siya ng driver nang malayo-layo pa dahil sa putik sa kalsada. Pagdating naman sa bahay, natuklasan niya na kulang din sa isang lata ng corned beef ang ibinigay sa kanya.
Magpapatuloy ang ganitong kalakaran ng buhay hanggang sa arestuhin sina ‘Ma Rosa at Nestor sa sakdal na pagiging pusher. At dahil sa mabigat na ebidensiyang nakuha ng kapulisan laban sa kanila, pinatawan sila ng halagang P200,000 nang humingi sila ng areglo. Sa tulong ng lahat sa apat na anak (sumabak pa sa prostitusyon ang isa) nakalikom sila ng “pambigay” sa kapulisan subalit kulang ito ng P50,000. Sa pakiusap ni ‘Ma Rosa, pinayagan siyang lumabas upang buuin ang balance. At pumatak ang luha niya sa pagkaunawa na hindi na angkin ng Pamilya Reyes ang buhay nila.
THE NORMALCY OF ANARCHY
Brillante Ma. Mendoza’s Ma’ Rosa examines a harrowing night in the lives of Rosa Reyes (Jaclyn Jose) and her husband, Nestor (Julio Diaz), who are caught by the police for drug possession during a raid in their sari-sari store in a Manila slum barangay. Rosa and Nestor are hauled off to the police precinct where they are asked by enterprising policemen led by Chief Sanchez (Baron Geisler) and his trusted leechlike interrogators Castor (Mark Anthony Fernandez), Sumpay (Neil Ryan Sese) and Olivarez (Mon Confiado) to pay a reduced amount off P50,000 in exchange for their release. Fearing their safety after witnessing a bloody and brutal treatment of Jomar (Kristoffer King), another drug dealer in the hands of the police, Rosa and Nestor ask for pardon but the police invoke the heavy penalties of the law they violated.
Concerned for their immediate release, Rosa and Nestor’s children namely Raquel (Andi Eigenmann), Jackson (Felix Roco), and Erwin (Jomari Angeles) fan out to relatives, friends and clients to raise the needed cash. The children’s efforts fall short and Rosa is instructed to pawn her cell phone to make up for the final balance. After doing so with an Indian moneylender, Rosa stops at a fish ball stall. As she eats, she tearfully gazes at a family across the street closing their own shop.
Throughout the film, Mendoza assembles a collage of multiple forms of commodity exchange. Commodities in the form of goods, services, gifts and money are exchanged in different ways. The film opens with Rosa paying for supplies bought at a supermarket and sharply questioning the change she receives from the cashier. On the streets, Rosa’s clients haggle with her for a cheap buy of her stash. In the privacy of her home, she assesses the street value of the drugs her supplier has brought her in relation to their family budget. In the precinct. Rosa and Nestor negotiate the price of their freedom in the light of their meager income. Rosa is also forced to set up and entrap her supplier in a buy-and-bust scheme in exchange for a possible reprieve by the police. Her children are also shown finding ways to obtain money. Jackson tries to sell a small used television set. Raquel bears the insults of her aunt Tilde (Maria Isabel Lopez) as she receives support for her parents. And Erwin for his part offers up his body to a male patron (Allan Paule).
In those scenes, the film presents exchanges flowing in informal and illicit ways and circulating in an anarchic market. It is anarchic because the exchanges bypass state-established channels and its standardized system of valuation. Since the exchanges occur in an unregulated market, value is principally determined by and subject to the power relationships existing between the parties involving the exchange. The dominant party dictates the value of the exchange as illustrated by the unbridled and matter-of-fact wheeling and dealing by the police with different cases at the station with its dripping ceiling. As police, they can command the value at fluctuating rates. The amount they demand from Rosa shifts from high to low and the final rate in turn deviates from the legally stipulated penalty. For a similar offense committed by Jomar, the police ask Linda (Mercedes Cabral), Jomar’s wife to pay a different rate. By situating this anarchic mode of exchange and valuation in a police station, the film suggests that the anarchic market has become the de facto site of exchange for many people. Lawlessness has been legitimized by those who have sworn to uphold the law. Due to privation and need, people like Rosa and Jomar on one side and the police at the other end are unable to access capital from authorized systems and thus enter the anarchic market of exchange and negotiate its power relations.
Mendoza’s observational approach to unraveling this exploitative world crushing people like Rosa sets the right tone for unmasking the milieu. Although there is an occupational burst of melodrama such a Maria Isabel Lopez’s peachy tirade, the ensemble acting is generally stripped of sentiment thereby enabling viewers to assess in a detached way the interactions of various characters. Jaclyn Jose as Rosa delivers a performance that is subtle and sophisticated in its restraint. She effectively draws the viewer in to ponder on the complexity of her predicament.
While the film through Odyssey Flores’ relentlessly probing camera work graphically exposes the underbelly of this anarchic market, the intended investigative style ends up being a flat survey. The film does little to enlighten and lead the viewer to a new understanding of the corrupt culture’s root causes and driving factors that perpetuate its existence. The potentially complex motivations that influence the characters like Rosa or the police to accept or dominate this world are not pursued or dissected in a thought-provoking or fresh way. The film’s harsh and grim reality is already familiar territory to many ordinary citizens and watching this film pushes them to think of dead-end scenarios that diminish or stifle their sense of agency. Rosa’s drained expression at the end tangibly mirrors the helplessness and vulnerability many experience at the prospect of entering an anarchic market that society has created, cultivated, and legitimized.
MA’ ROSA (2016) Direction BRILLANTE MA MENDOZA; Screenplay TROY ESPIRITU; Production Design DANTE MINDOZA; Art Director HAARLEY ALCASID; Cinematography ODYSSEY FLORES; Editing DIEGO MARX FLORES; Cast: JACLYN JOSE (Rosa), JULIO DIAZ (Nestor), ANDI EIGENMANN (Raquel), FELIX ROCO (Jackson), JOMARI ANGELES (Erwin), INNA TUASON (Jilian), KRISTOFFER KING (Jomar), ALLAN PAULE (Oscar), MARIA ISABEL LOPEZ (Tilde), RUBY RUIZ (Elvie), MERCEDES CABRAL (Linda), MON CONFIADO (SP03 Olivares), NEIL RYAN SESE (SP02 Sumpay), MARK DIONISIO (SP01 Alvarez), MARK ANTHONY FERNANDEZ (SP04 Castor), VINCE RILLON (Japol), TIMOTHY MABALOT (Bong Bong), LUIS RUIZ (Caloy); Produced by CENTERSTAGE PRODUCTIONS; Color/ Running Time 1:50
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