I can’t tell if I like this movie, or if that’s just the feminist in me talking. Before this movie, I saw Oros by Paul Sta. Asia, and Bwakaw by Jun Robles Lana. Both were very good, but after I saw this, I couldn’t talk about anything else. As sad and misleading as it may seem, Aparisyon did not contain any monsters, or ghosts, or aswangs. I was a little disappointed at that because I was expecting a horror movie at the beginning, but when you see the film you’ll understand that it did not need flashy effects or Sadakos to make your adrenaline rush.
Aparisyon is about nuns who live in an isolated monastery, 1971, a year before Marcos ran the Philippines. It’s about Lourdes, a young novice who just moved into the monastery. The movie is not very word-y, it took time to show everyday life in a convent: waking up, praying, doing chores, praying, sleeping, praying. It showed how heavy life in there could be, I could actually feel myself going insane in the theatre and repeatedly telling my seat-mate “I wouldn’t last a week in there.
Because, really, will you last inside the white walls of that monastery without having anything else to stare at and without questioning anything or knowing anything of the outside world? Lourdes is warmly welcomed by the monastery’s Mother Superior, Sister Ruth, along with her right-hand, Sister Vera. She gets assigned to her own chores and lives peacefully, without question, in the monastery. Lourdes befriends Sister Remy, the monastery’s extern and eventually they are asked to do the same chore together: buying supplies from the city.
That is a big task to these nuns because they are supposedly to remain inside the monastery to not be led into temptation of any kind. Secretly, Lourdes and Sister Remy help around the city and its meetings about rallies regarding Marcos. One night, the two nuns were on their way back to the monastery from a meeting that took a little too long. On their way back, the two got ambushed by three men. Sister Remy managed to escape and ran for help, unfortunately Lourdes wasn’t so lucky. Lourdes got raped. Sister Remy, wanting to defend her friend, took the time to ask Mother Superior if she could track down the suspects and bring them to justice.
Mother Superior and her right hand, unfortunately, decided to remain silent. They closed the doors to any detectives or press that had leads to the incident and only needed Lourdes’ testimony to sentence the suspects to jail, and continued to tell themselves that “What may have occurred happened for a reason. All we have to do is pray. ” They continued to tell themselves and to everybody else that there was nothing they could do and there is nothing else to be done. Imagine this, a nun who has offered her body and soul to her God gets raped by three men and is not going to receive any justice for the act.
What is prayer without action, I ask? Shouts to the void? Laziness? Refusal to act due to Fear? If that is prayer, then I’d rather not pray. Those are not my kind of prayers. Not surprisingly, Lourdes got pregnant. She does not want the child, of course. Who would want the child of the man who raped you and beat you up? Who would want the child of the man who took away your future and broke your soul? Not her. But the decision was never hers in the first place. The Bishop tells Mother Superior that God would not like to kill the baby, so they must keep it regardless of what Lourdes wants.
Remy, of course, defends her friend by saying, “But she’s the one pregnant, not the Bishop! ” (I would just like to point out that at this moment in time in the theatre, people were clapping, and I was most-likely the one shouting and cheering loudest. ) I do not want to write the ending. I’d like you to see the movie on your own. It’s an amazing movie. It’s a movie about silence, censorship, rights or lack-of rights, justice or lack-of justice, action, lack-of action, and Faith… or is it lack-of Faith? Sometimes there is a very fine line between good and evil. Sometimes it’s clear and distinct, but sometimes it’s just not there.
The cinematography was amazing. The lighting was right, and the angles were perfect. The acting of the cast was simply phenomenal. One thing I absolutely love about this movie is Jodi Sta. Maria’s acting. You will see the brokenness in her: The brokenness of a rape-victim. And people would laugh at her tears and say that “it’s overrated. ” But it’s not. It’s perfect. Because when people see rape, they see the sex and the struggle during the act, but they never see the victim afterwards- how she copes with the days just wishing she wouldn’t wake up the next morning, staring at the ceiling thinking about what she’ll be doing with her life.
They never show the aftershock. They never show the real pain, which is not in the act of sex but in the regrets that come later. Another thing I adore about this movie is the friendship between Lourdes and Sister Remy (Mylene Dizon). If that was not love, then I do not know what is. She betrayed her in that moment, yes, to ask for help. But she asked for forgiveness and she forgave her. And sometimes you don’t need a whole monastery of nuns doing your chores to make you feel better, sometimes you just need a couple of slaps to a bad friend and a hug. I should tell you though, the feminist blood in me simply boiled greater after this movie.
January 9, 2018
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