What would it take for anyone to just up and leave to explore the world-famous wonders of the Philippines? Ice Idanan’s road-slash-drama film, Sakaling Hindi Makarating, answers this quite convincingly: a shattered heart.
Cielo (Alessandra de Rossi), a 27-year-old devastated by her break-up with her fiancé of 11 years, is left with a fat check as severance pay from work and an apartment where she shuts herself off from the world and drowns in her pain. She receives postcards containing wistful poetry and hand-painted sceneries of travel destinations in the Philippines one day, prodding her to go on a mission to find the anonymous letter sender. Armed with a backpack of bikinis and the postcards as her only guide, Cielo takes on a life-changing journey of twists and turns, traveling down South to see the vintas of Zamboanga and going back up North to revel in the pristine beaches of Pagudpud and the sprawling hills of Batanes where she caps off her journey.
As Cielo traverses diverse cultures and the breathtaking beauty of the Philippines, she takes her audience along in her introspection. The narrative could have easily turned out to be the audience’s bane, with the story on the verge of wallowing in its central characters’ broken heartedness and soul searching—but it didn’t. Instead, it capably lays out its big theme on people seeking out destinies and pushing fate. Idanan’s screenplay engages with a world-wise, more inclusive, and insightful message about people going after their big hopes, only to find out in the end that they’re just chasing after the wind.
Moreover, Sakaling Hindi Makarating secures strength in its travel imagery, capturing the fulfilling activity that travelling is. Like Cielo, people who embark on travels are reminded of how small and insignificant their troubles are in contrast to the bigger and more interesting world out there. Plus points for this CineFilipino Film Festival entry for advocating Philippine tourism! The film’s selected locations presents the country in its genuinely picturesque form, effortlessly inspiring anyone to get up and go and bask in the country’s glory—broken hearts not required.
Alessandra De Rossi of gargantuan talent portrays Cielo with perfect restraint, drawing in laughter when she displays sass and candidness, meanwhile inducing tears when her character feels pain. Pepe Herrera who plays Paul, Cielo’s neighbor and confidant, delivers sheer comedy but one senses the wisdom provided by his character to the story. With the narrative economy of cinema, Sakaling Hindi Makarating is able to cover the “big quest” it takes on at the start. It comes full circle as Cielo not only recovers but discovers that she’s right where she should be.
A travelogue teeming with “feels,” Sakaling Hindi Makarating does away with the conceit of emotions, dismissing it with beautiful travel imagery and an engaging metaphorical message that travel is everyone’s destination.
'Sakaling Hindi Makarating' will open in cinemas nationwide starting February 1, 2017
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Spoilers ahead—read at your own risk