Nowhere in the world is foreign employment considered as noble as Jose Rizal or Benigno Aquino who sacrificed freedom and life for the common good. The Philippines has in fact made it hip and socially palatable – “Bagong Bayani”!
But since remittances of such OFW’s have somehow kept our country afloat from economic catastrophe, we started placing labels for them.
WHAT IS A HERO
Don't get me wrong, I have the highest respect for their sacrifices. Yet if I were the foreign worker, I wouldn’t give much thought to the affairs of the state. Truth is, if I cared enough, I would never leave my nativeland! I would not seek greener pastures elsewhere!
If I were an OFW, I would work abroad for inherently selfish reasons – not for the common good, but for myself and my family alone! My family! Not others! If that makes me a modern-day hero, then everyone around the world who works for self and family should rightfully be called a “hero”, right? After all, what does that make the Pinoys who opted to suffer through his country’s various upheavals by toiling the local soil – or burning the midnight flame – in the land where he was born? Are non-OFW’s really less of a hero for working so hard to get so little?
RAGE AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN
Director Noriel Jarito spins a tale on the anatomy of “rage” which, according to some of the production’s drumbeaters, is what “Rindido” means. Of course we have to disagree, graciously that is. “Rindido” or “rendido” is a pang-uring panlarawan (adjective) that covers the following: “litong lito”, “lawit na ang dila sa pagod”, “patang pata”. Nowhere is “rage” or “fury” in the realm of the aforementioned. If they wanted a more dramatic title, “Panibugho” would have been more appropriate; a weird-sounding title (much like how obscure "Rindido" is) one that belies depth would have been “Pangingimbulo”. But let’s leave it with “Rindido”. It's all just word play anyway.
Efren (Noriel Jarito) is a middle aged overseas foreign worker (OFW) who, one day, finds himself abruptly unemployed. From Saudi Arabia, he flies back home with just a backpack and a hand-carried brown box. The tortuous way home is littered with robbers so he turns up empty handed, and surprised. He runs across his mistress Lani (Chanel Latorre) locked in embrace with resident plumber Carlos (Vic Tiro). He drops his backpack and sends Carlos away running for dear life, but Carlos’ drinking buddies help the latter until Efren’s beaten into a pulp. Cut to: Efren and Lani in passionate lovemaking. Didn’t he catch his wife in flagrante just a few minutes ago? Now he’s pumping and pouncing away like there’s no tomorrow. No bruising or puffy cheeks expected from someone who just got mauled by three thugs!
After their fervid copulation, the big dramatic moment ensues. Lani implores, “Pag usapan natin ang nangyari kanina, Ren.” Then she weaves a hokey scenario that justifies her misdeeds. That she was coerced by Carlos at knife-point. Then she moronically adds, “Ikaw kasi, ang tagal mong nawala!” But if you listened carefully from their neighbor’s soundbites, you’d hear one saying, “Eh kahahatid ko lang nyan sa airport!” Ano ba talaga, ate? Then Lani goes further (digging herself a grave): “Alam kong mali ang ginawa ko!” You were intimidated yet you admit fault? Something doesn't add up. Now you understand exactly where Efren is coming from if he suddenly runs amok, right?
Fun after getting clobbered! He found out he's been cheated - yet he ends up shagging her. Then he gets her explanations later. Get it?
Told in non-linear fashion, the premise is rather simple. Noriel Jarito who wears several hats (producer, director, script writer, cinematographer, actor) obviously wants his cake and eat it too. The result is a slapdash ouvre that meanders into a myopic character study that doesn’t even bear new insight on the plight of foreign workers, fidelity, or enviable artistry. Each character is cardboard caricature, with a weak level of insight on the inherent motivation of its people. Jarito wears a single facial expression throughout the film; he has this seemingly blunt affect that slightly changes when he closes his eyes during coitus. Let’s not even mention that middle aged Jarito isn’t your typical empathy-inspiring protagonist: Efren is balding, dark and pot bellied - and morose looking! Why he believes he’d make the rightful lead is beyond us, and that doesn’t make it right! Vanity is such a blinding nuisance, it deflects focus.
That Jarito is a real former OFW isn’t a valid excuse for him to play one on screen while the movie-going public is paying for this sad truth. The script seems to be a product of an after-thought with nothing much in between lines. Direction is banal and mostly careless as well. While Efren was on his way to his apartment, imagine one character saying, “Naku, andun pa si Diego. Ay si Carlo pala!” LOL. One friggin line that’s easily editable, but it ends up in the film anyway. In the fight scene where Efren’s victims fall down the floor, you don’t see any gushing blood. Instead they are faded dried up red stains. The only hint of emotion we saw was when Efren was holding his hostage (Lotlot Bernardo), with knife on the other hand. He tentatively says, “Wag kang malikot!” Like he was blowing away a mosquito. Realizing it was too weak a statement, he shouted the second time, “Wag kang malikot.” Which he meant this time around. Talk about conviction.
Vic Tiro plays Carlos (or was it Diego?), Banjo Romero the posture-perfect policeman, and Chanel Latorre as the bitch-in-heat Lani. Unfortunately, a lackluster script meant to highlight Efren leaves these three other characters with docile, albeit one-note performances. The film surreptitiously ends with a baffling shot of the Manila skyline hosting a fireworks display. What that was for is a mystery. An antithesis maybe? But I highly doubt that was the objective.
I don’t see glory (the celebratory "fireworks") in the carnage borne out of someone’s misfortune. And if this were another form of homage to the OFW, someone has to be answerable to its dank mediocrity. In my book, there is no accolade for the adulterer. That he suffers gravely from his unemployment is maybe something that he richly deserves for abandoning a wife and a child. Clocking in at just 1 hour, this film feels like a protracted flicker of an idea more than a film feature. Paying P171 to watch it is like buying that expensive ice cream (Cold Rock Ice Cream in Greenbelt, anyone?), but then you accidentally dropped it on the floor! Ooops!
“Rindido” was one of the five Metro Manila Filmfest indie picks – one of the five that was never shown commercially. This then begs the question: Who were the people in-charge in screening these indies? Are they mentally challenged? Or were the choices drawn blindly by picking lots randomly from a bowl? Once again, shame on you, MMFF organizers! Now I know why these indies were never shown commercially at the MMFF.
WHAT IS PATRONAGE WORTH?
When a moviegoer pays somewhere between P150 to P220 to watch a movie at the cinema, do we owe anything to their well-intentioned filmmakers? “No” is a resounding answer! Do they owe us good cinema? You bet they do! We paid for good cinema. And it isn’t enough that the end-product is borne out of good intentions or anybody’s blood, sweat and tears. Our payment circumvents their hardship, but not necessarily our loyal appreciation. What if we say, such product is a tribute to a long-suffering segment of society (OFWs)? Is patronage equivalent to false appreciation when there’s not much merit worth celebrating for? This is a disservice to the foreign workers - as they are depicted adulterers, unstable, killers! Do we praise a film such as this one? That would constitute infarction against the 9th commandment (Exodus 20:16) - Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Ergo, thou shall not lie! Not just to self but to others as well.
I cannot lie!
Robin Padilla-wannabe Banjo Romero is the policeman caught in a balletically, graciously choreographed fight scene with Jarito. This was gun versus knife! And having known that Efren has already killed several people, guess who died? LOL