Thursday, July 18, 2013

Kubrador (Jeffrey Jeturian, 2006)

Amelita collects bets for an illegal numbers game called jueteng. She walks around the neighborhood and cajoles people to put in their bets. She knows it is wrong but this is the only way that she can bring food for her family.

Actress Gina Pareno nabbed the lion’s share of the best actress trophies from award-winning giving bodies this in 2007. She portrayed Amy, a bookie shackled to the illegal numbers game. She is one of the millions of people dependent on jueteng. They are in local parlance called ‘anak ng jueteng.’

Amy earns 15% of her daily jueteng collections. She invests part of her earnings to stock up goods for her sari-sari store. Her husband is the one manning the store while she makes her rounds.

Every day she prays that she won’t be caught by the police. Bail is set at 10,000 pesos. Her boss usually pays for her bail each time she gets in trouble. These acts of kindness put her at the mercy of the boss.

Numerology plays an important part of Amy’s work. She helps her clients choose numbers base on their experiences. Bad luck means number 13.

A death in the neighborhood puts Amy’s networking skills into action. A priest contacts her to collect donations for the burial expenses of the surviving family. She remembers her son who died serving in the military.

The film showed frequent appearances of the spirit of the dead son. He is shown massaging the head of his tired mother. He guides her when she gets lost in the labyrinthine alleyways of her neighborhood. He saves her from a bullet.

This film is a solid work by the director. It deserves all the acclaim it received from international film festivals and local critics. It is a courageous film showing the wide reach of jueteng.

Major government officials and the church are portrayed as major benefactors of jueteng. A scene from the film showed a jueteng cashier putting thousands of pesos to envelopes addressed to a certain J.V. and a certain Fr. The letters J.V. can mean ‘Jose Velarde,' alleged alias of the deposed President Joseph Estrada. Meanwhile, ‘Fr.’ stands for church officials who take dirty money and keep quiet about it.

Kubrador is a prime example of ‘real time’ films espoused by scriptwriter Joel Jover and his mentor Bing Lao. A ‘real time’ film puts emphasis on a place. The excellent camerawork traced the paths taken by Amy in her daily rounds. The film showed the neighborhood that fosters illegal gambling such as jueteng. The narrow alleyways seem to imprison the bookies. The only way a debt-ridden bookie can get out of the gambling-infested place is through death.

* original online posting in 2007

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