Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ang Kwento ni Mabuti (Mes de Guzman, CineFilipino 2013 Best Picture Winner)

Everybody it seems has a favorite acting highlight of Nora Aunor in Ang Kwento ni MabutiThe veteran actress squeezes pure acting juice from her bag of tricks. She plays a well-loved healer named Mabuti. There is the scene showing Mabuti bewildered with the contents of a heavy burden of a bag. Another memorable scene shows her stealthily entering the house and promptly hiding her bag on an old trunk. Both scenes are dazzling, delicious displays of thespic excellence. 

The little moments though are the ones I treasure. Try to watch Mabuti's facial gestures after every healing session. A dog-eater of a neighbor gets his comeuppance from aggressive canines. The neighbor seeks the help of Mabuti every time he gets bitten. We see Mabuti with her charming smile after every session. There's a big change however with her reaction after treating the neighbor's snake bite. The smile is not as sunny as ever. It must have something to do with her being whisked off her ride and the need to pay fare once more.

Another crucial scene is Mabuti's partaking of the yummy Ilocano delicacy called tupig. She munches them quickly and yearns for some more. She doesn't grab one right away. She waits for the owner to look her way before asking for another piece. This segment sets up beautifully to Mabuti getting hold of a treasure. She seeks to dispatch of the money because it is not hers. 

What would Jesus do? What would you do if you get a windfall of money? Mabuti is put in a dilemma because the money can save her mortgaged land. In the end, she adheres to the basic rule of returning back things to the rightful owner.

Director Mes de Guzman is on a roll. Every film festival entry of his either wins the Best Picture award or nabs him the Best Director award. For the CineFilipino film Ang Kwento ni Mabuti, he gets both awards along with the Best Screenplay award. His stories capture vividly the rural scene in Nueva Vizcaya. The improvised home water system segment is a beauty. The army of insects shoo Mabuti away from going the wrong path. Then, there are those maddening landslides, jueteng, and verdant scenery. I relate deeply with the provincial values of his characters. 

Nora Aunor may not be a Miss World winner or a CineFilipino Best Actress winner, but she brought life to a beautiful winning character. Mabuti is goodness personified. She refuses to accept donations from patients. She shares her snack with a hot-headed bus driver. She radiates with the glow of inner beauty. It is interesting to note that her mother's advice is similar to what the mother of Miss World Megan Young aptly said, 'you can never go wrong with goodness.' Indeed, the kindness and honesty of Mabuti is worth emulating.

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