Thursday, November 30, 2006


A Delightfully Light-Hearted Drama that is actually a MUST SEE!

By Reymundo Salao

Because Norma must work in the city, she has to leave behind her daughter Ruby in the province with her mother. But when nobody can look after Ruby anymore, Norma has no choice but to bring Ruby to live with her in the house of her employers and the latter's daughter Louise. There, Norma must try to balance who she devotes her attention to: her own daughter or her ward?

It’s no big surprise that INANG YAYA is such a beautiful movie with a quality that can match Hollywood movies, it’s a film from Unitel Pictures, which is known for its topnotch quality movies like “Crying Ladies” and “Magnifico” Over the years of its existence, Unitel is known for gradually breaking the cliché of Tagalog movies. They redefine Pinoy movies, slowly removing its common ugly characteristics such as “baduy”, “corny”, or “kopya”. Instead, they have introduced movies that are beyond the expectations of many viewers. Movies that indeed have originality, art, style, impact, beauty, and depth. When the movie was announced, it was a sure bet that this one will be right on the money. Even though I had free movie passes, I proudly did not use them and paid to watch this movie on the first day. And indeed, INANG YAYA is a champion. I enjoyed the film, with no regrets, and even an urge to watch it again.

The film is directed by Pablo Biglang-awa, Jr. and Veronica Velasco, who also wrote the script. They have both weaved such a wonderful light-hearted drama that does touch the very depth of a viewer's heart and probably generate a more positive kind of tear-jerking. Yes, this film is a tearjerker, but it does not resort to the overused cliché used and abused by other big-studio Tagalog movies. In other movies, they'd have to kill a handful of important characters, subject the protagonist to extreme domestic maltreatment, and make her life a living (oftentimes obviously-fabricated) hell, in order to just call itself a tearjerker. Inang Yaya will have none of that garbage. This movie is a tearjerker because of the real emotions and the simple little dramas of life as a nanny. It taps into issues that any of us might encounter, and give us an impact of a jackhammer, no matter how simple it could be. The conflict of a mother's love towards her own daughter and her love serving as a mother-figure-nanny to her employer's daughter. It never seems complicated, but it carries deep emotional impact. Inang Yaya is tear-jerking in a positive light. It makes you shed tears, not because it has a sad and/or dark theme. It makes you shed tears because of the feel-good emotions that it gives off to its audience.

Right from the beginning, the film has breathtaking cinematography. The scenes in the rural setting were well-polished to make the backgrounds seemingly unintentionally scenic. The set design for the interior shots of the house, which is the main setting were attractive. The camera work was superb, as it is executed with high-definition cameras that made each-second-of-a-shot photographic. There is a very brief underwater scene which shows the prowess of the film's cameras.

The chemistry between Maricel Soriano, Tala Santos, and Erika Oreta is incredibly beautiful. The three characters really stuck it true to the drama of the story with a gold standard performance. Marita Zobel, Sunshine Cruz and Zoren Legaspi also gave good performances. But Liza Lorena's role as a slightly villainous grandma, Lola Toots, gave the movie its balance of darkness. Her role does work, and gives it a similarly realistic touch, not making her too much of an absolute villain of sorts. Maricel Soriano, who is the title character, is indeed brilliant in this movie. I have only seen a couple of her performances in other movies but it is in subtly-plotted drama that she gives all the more deeply moving performances. It is in her slight gesture of emotions that she portrays a character that does connect to the emotions of the viewers. But even though she is the title character, the real superstars of this movie are the two children who both share the love of Norma, the Inang Yaya.

Both young actresses Tala Santos and Erika Oreta are brilliantly adorable, giving a performance of unblinking realism, with Tala Santos slightly more charming than the other because of her more dramatically active and oftentimes funny character. She plays Ruby, the daughter of Norma, who has a stronger and slightly mature personality than her counterpart. Erika Oreta plays Louise, the daughter of Norma's employer, who grew up a rich girl, who is a bit more naive and a bit spoiled, but nevertheless, innocently goodhearted. It's almost unbelievable to find two young actresses that can stir up a chemistry which is highly engaging and delightfully charming to watch.

All in all, I would say that INANG YAYA is the year’s best Filipino movie. It has the slight social relevance, the charm of an entertaining piece, and the drama that can make tears flow. It is balanced by equally excellent visuals, with a cinematography that implies discipline and innovation. The overall direction is well-executed. No sloppy continuity errors and not even the musical scoring may bring it down. And the impact of Inang Yaya is cerebral and extremely emotional. A drama of delight that should not be missed, INANG YAYA is a must see. If you rarely watch Pinoy movies, now is the time to do it. Movies like this are very rare, don’t miss it.

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