"Mahirap maging mahirap."
Filipino poet and rock musician Dong Abay once said those words in his song "Mateo Singko." He vividly describes the everyday lives of Filipinos Vice President Leni Robredo would probably refer to as "mga nasa laylayan ng lipunan." Being poor is even harder in a Third World country such as ours that is rife with injustice and inequality.
This is a truth that is painfully depicted on the silver screen by the movie Pamilya Ordinaryo. Based on its trailer, you might've dismissed the movie as "poverty porn"—the way most independent films that tackle these topics are often accused of being. You might also be quick to dismiss it as "the one that stars Coco Martin's less-famous brother." In reality, you'd be doing yourself a disservice doing that because Pamilya Ordinaryo is definitely so much more than that.
The film won Best Full-Length Feature Film, Best Editing, and Best Directing in the recently concluded Cinemalaya Film Festival. Pamilya Ordinaryo is directed by Eduardo Roy, Jr., and stars Ronwaldo Martin and Hasmine Kilip as Aries and Jane Ordinaryo respectively, two glue-sniffing teenage street-dwellers who just had a child together. They decided to name the baby "Arjan," obviously inspired by their names. So other than taking care of a child, they're also obviously ill-equipped to think of a name for your newly caught Pokémon.
Maybe they can try thinking of another name for the baby
some other time when they're not sniffing glue
To say that Aries and Jane are poor is an understatement. There are poor people, like those who have no choice but to live on a diet of pancit canton on most days. And then there are those like Aries and Jane who sniff glue to forget about hunger and resort to robbing hapless pedestrians for a living. Already leading lives that leave little to be desired, their existence is put in further disarray when a seemingly charitable transsexual ends up running away with Baby Arjan.
With no money, no resources, and no idea where to go, the young couple scour Metro Manila trying to look for their baby. Along the way, they encounter people who are sympathetic to their plight, some who really couldn't care less about them, and those who wouldn't think twice to exploit their situation even further.
Pamilya Ordinaryo is hard to watch at times because it's never easy to see people actually living this way. Parang pag nasa kotse ka tapos may lumapit sa'yong pulubi para manlimos. More often than not, you can get away with just ignoring them and minding your own business. "Out of sight, out of mind," sabi nga nila. But this film forces you to see how these people actually live—and it's jarring and disconcerting to say the least. The saddest thing about it though is that you know that this is the everyday reality that you choose to turn a blind eye to. The title of the movie is an obvious reference to Aries and Jane's last name. But while we wouldn't exactly call them an "ordinary Filipino family," their situation is sadly quite ordinary and we all know it.
The Ordinaryo family taking a selfie on a freshly stolen smartphone
The movie, more than anything, is a social commentary on injustices against the poor, females, and homosexuals, as well. When Jane loses the baby, Aries is quick to blame her. While you might think that that's natural because she was the one who lost the baby in the first place, Aries also subjects her to constant physical abuse and humiliation. A few minutes later, you see them walking side by side as if nothing at all happened. This is the norm in their relationship, true, but this is also the norm in a lot of violent relationships in the country.
When they approach "authority" figures of society for help—the media, the police, or even the security guard of the supermarket where they lost their baby—they are met with nonchalance, feigned interest, or even abuse.
Martin and Kilip were perfect for their roles. The two were really able to inhabit the skin of their characters, that after a few minutes of viewing you'd actually forget that these are just actors. Of course, they were made to look like real life street-dwellers, thanks to clever makeup and costume design. But it also helps a great deal that they're not well-known thespians. It adds to the realism of the whole thing because you wouldn't get the same effect if they booked Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo for Ordinaryo gig. You wouldn't see "Aries" and "Jane."
Credit the director for tackling a topic not a lot of people want to talk about. It might not be something that is easy for the audience to consume, but it's a significant part of our way of life and something that needs to be addressed perhaps now more than ever before.
8/10. Pamilya Ordinaryo is a Pinoy indie film that's anything but ordinary. Fueled by authentic performances from the cast, it gives us a long and honest look on the lives of Filipinos who have to struggle just to get through the day.
Rey de la Cruz Jr. likes talking about films as much as he likes watching them. He runs www.reyview.org, a site that provides Filipino moviegoers with reviews written in a voice that is uniquely Pinoy.