The social significance of ‘Kita Kita’

By Wilfredo G. Villanueva

The movie Kita Kita from Spring Films and Viva Films. A film by Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo, writer and director. Alessandra de Rossi as Lea. Empoy Marquez as Tonyo. Binibining Joyce Bernal, creative producer and executive producer. Erwin Blanco, producer. Reign Anne L. de Guzman, line producer. Piolo Pascual, executive producer. Arthur Pefianco, associate producer. Scarlet Pefianco, associate producer. Erickson Raymundo, executive producer. Music by Arlene Flerida Calvo. Cinematography by Boy Yñiguez. Film editing by Marya Ignacio. Production design by Thesa Tang. Lamberto Casar Jr. and Immanuel Varona, sound engineers.

“Kita Kita” is shortened Tagalog for “Nakita Kita,” roughly “I Saw You” in English. Alessandra de Rossi is the beauteous Lea. Empoy Marquez is Tonyo, the one who has a face only a blind person can love. Mix them up in accidental ways and you get one of the most chemistry-laden movies I have seen after a long time, maybe since Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.

Shot on location in Japan, the film is after everyone’s heart. “They just want to make us cry,” our youngest daughter said, when I wondered aloud why the movie ended the way it did. I had my doubts about the ending, but when I connected the movie with what’s happening in the country, it makes a lot of sense. The Philippines is never shown. It’s beauty shot after beauty shot of Japan—making the Philippines in our minds pale in comparison—which elicited oohs and aahs from the audience. The story is after all about contrasts, delivering its message of love and hope with charm and efficiency in the face of a world bereft of it. Kudos to the producers who had wanted to show it in last year’s movie festival but backed out to have more time in production. And what a treat they have presented, something for international audiences as the English subtitles suggest. Bollywood and South Korea romance movies are on notice.

Writing and directing credits go to Sigrid Bernardo. She has elevated her craft. Boy Yñiguez wowed us with his extreme closeup and landscape shots. Marya Ignacio’s editing chops made the movie seamless; I found no need to check my smartphone for time or messages. Thesa Tang presented us with a cinematic moment with her intricate origami mobile, among other events. Air Supply’s “Two Less Lonely People in the World” as sang by KZ Tandingan and arranged for the movie by Arlene Flerida Calvo reverberated in the theater to cap the movie, drowning the sound of sniffles. Lamberto Casar Jr. and Immanuel Varona enveloped the audience with ambient sound to make the audience live in setting. Acting was Filipino Proud, with both main characters delivering line after pickup line with verve and confidence.

Lea is a Filipina tourist guide working in Sapporo, Japan. Tonyo is down and out, heartbroken to the point of drunkenness, another heroic Overseas Filipino Worker or OFW like Lea. It happened that in a drunken stupor he plopped down across the street where Lea lived. They meet, guy falls for the girl, girl is not in the mood because she is blind, guy persists, was able to take the girl out on dates, to be her eyes, and they fall in love.

Things are not all right in the world both find themselves. Lea is heartbroken, too, but is beautiful in face and heart. In sharp contrast, Tonyo is well, literally beautiful in heart only. By some quirk of lovely fate, Lea returns Tonyo’s love, and the story takes on a beguiling character, an astounding series of fortunate events that the audience is willing to accept without retching. It is Romeo and Juliet all over again, true beauty given and received in spite of obvious limitations. The audience is enthralled by two people in love, nothing more, nothing less.

Remember I saw the love in AlDub, and how it impacted on us as a nation of disgruntled residents in their own country, and homesick expatriates in other countries—Canada, Hong Kong, the United States, Italy, Japan, and many others. I see the same love in AlEmpoy (Alex, Alessandra’s nickname, and Empoy as an eponymous brand for a love team).

Don’t correct me if I am wrong because love is strong drink, highly addictive. I constantly look for gems hidden in our rags and that night in a movie theater sitting between my wife and our youngest daughter who cried buckets, I saw another gem of a different hue than AlDub’s but definitely something we can be proud of, again.

First, Empoy as Tonyo. A lovable little man with crooked teeth, no chin, undisciplined mustache, endearing smile, quick wit, expressive eyes. He is known as a comedian providing a foil to aspirationally handsome hunks. Forget hunks, at least in the movie. Tonyo has beaten them with rapier-like skill in catching the love of his life with nothing but words of endearment and passion delivered in chewable bits small enough not the drive Miss Beautiful away, but just enough to make her think, reflect, enjoy the conversation, the company, the romantic tension which makes Tonyo want to hug her till her joints, muscles and tissues plead enough. Just the right balance of keeping distance and surrendering to magnetic pull. The two delivered believable performances like synchronized swimmers while keeping their eyes locked to each other to earn romcom gold.

Aah, Lea. Her beauty transports. You’re a teenager again and when she bats her eyelashes, pouts her lips, smirk and smile at the same time in merry teasing, you’re no longer in the theater but half a century away when you were young and crazy in love, hyperventilating—love as brother to death. The wifey said Alex is usually cast as a contravida, definitely not the sweet little thing she is in Kita Kita. Which makes her acting superb and ground-breaking.

Now where does country come in?

Let’s put it this way, Empoy’s Tonyo is as good looking as the drone shots of Manila with shanties cheek and jowl in the Port Area, for shame, Manila being the sixth most squalid, densely-populated, sweaty, grimy city in the world. If Juan dela Cruz were to assume a real person, he would be living in Barangay Baseco in Port Area, (Oh Kolkota of Saint Teresa!) summoning feelings of pity and repugnance at the same time. And Juan dela Cruz would look like Tonyo, charming enough, good company enough, makes you laugh enough, but still, uhm, drop dead unhandsome.

Both Tonyo and Lea as typical OFWs (let’s hear it for our beloved OFWs! Woot! Woot!) deliver the goods in portraying the joy of living in more organized, cleaner, prettier, fragrant surroundings, but still missing Pilipinas, missing the culture where it’s all right to laugh out loud in public (it’s not, in Japan), and where one can abandon thought and decorum and speak in native Tagalog. How she would love to be a first-class citizen in native land, Lea avers. You can almost see Baseco in her eyes as she delivered those lines, probably loathing and loving her country at the same time.

It wouldn’t have been easy to love Tonyo if Lea had full advantage of vision, but she’s temporarily blinded by a stressful event and she couldn’t see Tonyo, so there. Come to think of it, if we were devoid of sight (maybe even the sense of smell), we would find joy and fulfillment walking around in places like Baseco, the pit of the pits, hell on earth.

But Tonyo is a joy to be with, always cracking jokes, never sore. He just keeps on coming at you with his unspeakable love. Which is what every Filipino is, basically. People in other countries I have personally seen are neater and maybe smelling like a shopping mall, but there is simply not enough critical mass to draw laughter, not enough joie de vivre, well maybe because they are rushing to catch something.

We are not rushing. Poverty and deprivation make sure we have all the time in the world to love, and to show it. And when people like Will Villanueva see love, oh how they roll it around in their hearts and live life to the fullest extent possible, and write movie reviews like this.

There is nothing wrong with us. We will always be Tonyo country, unassuming and comfortable in our shoes, never never shy. And we will always be Lea, forgiving, open, not judgmental. blind when in love. We may have several Miss Universes, but walk around and you see Tonyo and Lea in everyone, eking out a living, having fun, holding hands, finding love in unexpected circumstances, a people rocked by natural and self-made calamities but destined to love because we are simply good at it—we were made for it. Maybe our love is misplaced for now as the debate rolls in the land on whether or not Duterte’s world is utopia or dystopia. Maybe we just need to love mindfully. Maybe we’re just saying, hey President Rodrigo Duterte, it’s not that you have pores (come to think about it, he is Baseco), but it’s because you pour on hate. Hate. We are not people of hate. Tonyo through Empoy powerfully says that in Kita Kita. We love love so much that maybe we are taken advantage of, such as what paid trolls did to us in last year’s presidential elections. Oh, how we love undeserving ones, like Bongbong Marcos.

But when we do find beauty in love such as Tonyo’s and Lea’s, that’s when we explode like Hokkaido’s field of flowers of various colors in the movie, where AlEmpoy found true love. Oops, getting carried away. Where Tonyo and Lea found true love.

When I see the two in interviews on television, they have got enough chemistry to melt Greenland, but please not in a million years. Keep your heat to yourselves, Alessandra de Rossi and Empoy Marquez. Leave our coastlines alone.


93 Responses to “The social significance of ‘Kita Kita’”
  1. Wil , awesome film review.

    “I constantly look for gems hidden in our rags and that night in a movie theater sitting between my wife and our youngest daughter who cried buckets, I saw another gem of a different hue than AlDub’s but definitely something we can be proud of, again.”

    Can i request a review of a film I saw while there? Wanted to get your personal take on it. See we got this movie while buying a bunch of pirated DVDs while over there, American movies, Chinese action flicks, some Japanese porn, and among our porn stack was this film , with equally salacious cover,

    but it wasn’t porn, not even soft-core, but legit drama, one of those hidden gems you talk about, have you seen it?

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Hi Lance! Thanks for the encouragement. Live Show? Let me look for it. Muslim DVD sellers have thinned on account of Netflix, Go Movies, YouTube. I hope delicious covers can still be found. At the very least you gave me a good excuse for the wifey to dig into the depths.

      • Too bad, those were some really cheap DVDs, Wil!
        I hope you find it, probably best not to watch it with the kids. Looking forward to a review, and if you can point me to similar films like that in the Philippines, ie. gritty, but artistic and attempting to tackle something bigger than the film.

  2. Zen says:

    This is some feel good blog but I like your dig on Digs – … hey President Rodrigo Duterte, it’s not that you have pores… but you pour on hate. Hate. We are not people of hate. Touche and Thanks Wil! 🙂

  3. karlgarcia says:

    I saw the trailer, and I liked the part when Alissandra felt the face of Empoy and imagined him to be handsome, and Empoy said you Are (really) blind.

  4. Harry Tan says:

    Amazing piece, sir WGV! Wanna watch the movie. 😀

  5. Mary Grace P. Gonzales says:

    Will, I like your style of writing. I hope you think about writing a novel and have it published. For sure it will be a best seller. Like sir Edgar and the rest of the guys here, you have a way with words.

  6. alicia m. kruger says:

    Love. In the end, that’s all there is. No regrets, just the love for people who have wonderful souls that are headed in the right direction. Blind beauty or beast regardless!

    And a soul full of venom who throws all rules and guidelines out the window is considered a national treasure to some, an embarrassment to many.

    Reality: Pinoy style.

    ps. wish i could see the film!

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Hi Alicia! It’ll be on YouTube or something soon I think. I’m not reading press releases on commercial success, sad to say. I hope I just missed reading them.

  7. chemrock says:

    You mentioned the herione suffered temporary blindness from an accident. Did she regain her sights, and if she did, what happened to their relationship? The loss of the sense of sight build in her the temperance to be less judgemental. It gave her the ability to ‘see’ things differently from one possessed of all senses. Is there a permanence to her values consequential to the loss of the sense of sight.?

    Seems the loss of one sense helps one to recalibrate their awareness and acceptance of their surroundings, Would the loss of one’s ability to think properly, affected as it were by black propaganda, fake news and attempts at skewing news to normalise unsavoury police activities, temper one’s values. If that were so, I suggest the senses that were lost to 16 M is the sense of smell and sight. We should bring the stench of death and the awful sights of men women and children in their death throes, right into the homes and offices of 16M.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Hi Chemrock! Agree with the second paragraph, but can’t answer the question in the first. Spoiler, bro.

  8. “How she would love to be a first-class citizen in native land, Lea avers. You can almost see Baseco in her eyes as she delivered those lines, probably loathing and loving her country at the same time.”

    Feeling like a second class citizen in our own native land. It used to be because we were colonized by foreigners but we had been free of foreign masters for decades. Nowadays, the first class citizens are Filipinos. They lash out and lord over the socially, politically and economically deprived second class Filipino citizens instead of getting them unstuck in the ruts.

    It is comforting to see the American public come out with torches and pitchforks for the outrageous, vulgar and potty-mouthed Scaramucci. It is disconcerting to see Filipinos applaud an outrageous, vulgar and potty-mouthed leader. Most diaspora Filipinos love PH but loathe the unchecked behavior of some of its citizens.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Hi Juana! insightful comments as always. Between loathing and loving, I am amazed that we still go on and collectively look for things that are lovable about us. Filipinos as second citizens. Hmm. I always tell my wife we have a silent caste system in motherland. Sad, but we go on loving just the same. Bahala na ang Diyos sa mga tila mapang-aping kababayan natin.

  9. The age of innocence will probably not return.

    Childlike joy has given way to a very teenage rage with many, directed at the wrong people.

    Wonder what the next stage will be, as people slowly discover they have fallen not for pores and Visayan jokes, but for a truly unspeakable.

    • popoy says:

      IBRS there is this yarn I like telling long ago as management trainor to sleepy trainees: entitled “Kita ko, Kita Ko” of a lady cheating her husband and her pet parrot squealing on her. It was not a blissful loss of innocence but a sensuous loss of morals. Anybody heard that one?

    • Bill In Oz says:

      We watched the trailer. My lady loved it… And glowed with joy at seeing and hearing her own people on screen…

      How striking that it takes place in Japan not the Philippines : that they are living in beautiful Hokkaido in the least populated part of Japan.. And live the life of ‘ordinary’ people without the the Philippines overwhelming issues of extreme poverty, over crowding, slums and drugs, death and crime.

      I think this is may be the underlying message of this film : that Fiipinos can live their lives this way and still be Filipinos, loving, laughing and caring.

      • popoy says:

        Bill, And why not a Romeo and Juliet doing a walk about in Darwin’s outback? Being factual or cynical: it seems right and original for filmmakers to do it in beautiful Hokkaido and not in the squalor of Manila demonstrates a fantasy form of ESCAPISM. Done beautifully by twist and turn by one’s religion and the cleverness of reason.

        • DJ R. says:

          There’s a valid storytelling reason, beyond escapism, for setting the film in Japan: it’s just that what happens in the movie wouldn’t work well if the two leads were surrounded by Filipinos. Throughout the movie, Tonyo and Lea are isolated; unlike your typical mainstream Tagalog rom-coms where the guy always has a best dude and the girl has a troupe of cheeky BFFs, in Kita Kita, Tonyo and Lea only have each other. And that’s believable because they’re OFWs in a relatively remote are of Japan, and it allows their romance to blossom unhindered.

          Idea not mine; refer to The Knee-Jerk Critic:

          • I’m sure from a movie making perspective, there’s a tendency when going on location to go to great places to visit, hence why almost every Disney show will go to Hawaii, it’s a good excuse to combine work and play for cast and crew.

        • Bill In Oz says:

          Popoy,, we’ve done lots of walking here.. There is lots of beautiful outback close by…
          My lady’s Facebook page has lot’s of photos..And she is always looking for more places to photograph with a selfie..
          But “Darwin’s Outback ” ? Excuse me. Darwin did come to Australia in the 1830’s as part of the great 3 year voyage around the world. But he stayed just 6 weeks, mostly in Sydney…From memory he made a couple of expeditions on horseback to check out the wildlife. He made the comment later that the Australian fauna & flora are a ‘Second, separate creation”..And Australian fauna & flora gets no substantial mention in his books on evolution…

          By the way, the fauna & flora of the Philippines is also unique and deserving of protection. I remember decades ago on Mt Mayon being shown a young Eucalyptus type tree which is only found the Philippines and completely unknown in Australia.

          • Darwin (the city) is absolutely the most heated and humid place on the planet, I think. Miserable place. You dump pork, veggies and soup mix out the third story window and by the time it hits the pavement, you have sinigang.

            • NHerrera says:

              🙂 🙂 🙂

              BTW, I love sinigang, but with Bangus now, for my age. But I ask the wife to make Pork Sinigang with the usual Liempo fat now and then — well, we have to go sometime. As someone posted in TSH, sorry I can’t recall who, the problem with all this healthy living thing is that one day one will die from NOTHING.

            • popoy says:

              JoeAm if I may, it is there that a Fil-Ozzie Physician told me during a picnic in the park that he observed the Pinoys living abroad will have as many organizations as there are families and will usually have conflictive relationships, suspiciously tribal in origin. It was there also that I observed beautiful mestizas product of white inter-partnerships with “Abus” (pls pardon the used of that word). I guess JoeAm we, our bodies will have different reactions to extreme cold and heat.

              As we can cook eggs and whatever on the sidewalk of New York and Darwin’ summers while we enjoy the freezing winds in Melbourne, the minus 50 C in Alberta. When it is summer in the Big Apple it’s winter of rains and floods in New South Wales and Queensland.

              In the Visayas, islands surrounded by the sea, ribboned by white, red, gray and light brown beaches; heat reflected and bounced by the mighty noon day sun makes one feel the drip drip down of sweat in one’s legs and backside. The heat and cold travel not from Jaipur desert to Muzzorie of India’s Himalayas; the heat and cold spread not from sea to shinning sea, but percolate and circulate in paradise Visayas in the middle of an ocean’s turbulence. Been there sweating and shivering with the locals in them lovely places.

              • Bill In Oz says:

                Dying of nothing ? Ummmmm It might be the best option N’Herrrera.. :- (

              • Ah, you are waxing poetic today, popoy, fun to read and feel. The Visayas are sooooo alive with landscapes and seascapes and skyscapes, a region where the planet’s global weather patterns collide to make each day a surprising delight, always beautiful. Even the jet engine screech of Yolanda falls into its proper place as a right proper and spiritual banshee. The only place with even more dynamic beauty that I’ve visited would be the Patagonia region of Chile. It’s a great place to go for walks if you lean 45 degrees into the wind.

            • Bill In Oz says:

              At the wrong time of the year Darwin is awful.. October to March is wet season and if not raining 100 humid..Not nice.. But from April through September I am told it is lovely : warm dry days and mild nights..

              By the way Joe, ‘Nose to Tail’ eating is bug now among the low carb/paleo type people.

              And PS to N’Herrera : that saturated fat will not kill you : another myth from the 1950’s with no evidence to back it up.. The science has ben done for decades to back the isea that saturated fats kills us. None of the science could prove anything. It’s bunk !

              • NHerrera says:

                Ok, that is a relief, but now I have the alternative of going kaput in the hospital dying of nothing — see Lance’s post below. 🙂

          • Here’s the actual quote, NH.

      • “And live the life of ‘ordinary’ people without the the Philippines overwhelming issues of extreme poverty, over crowding, slums and drugs, death and crime.”

        I agree , Bill… too much idyllic scenes is dangerous IMHO, hence why i think “Live Show” (or other similar movies), less idyllic but realistic and tackling real issues, need more viewing. If you’ve not seen it, watch it, Bill , more films like this IMHO is what the Philippines needs.

        • Bill In Oz says:

          Lance my remark was said in an approving way…not disapproving way. The film is meant to be inspiring and romantic…I suspect tha this most Filipinos aspire to live a life in such surroundings and not in the dirt & grime with over crowding, slums, death and drugs…
          In a country where such things are commonplace escapes are needed and wanted and enjoyed…

      • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

        Hi Bill! I always thought you were badass, a tough customer, but do I discern a certain tenderness? Hahaha! Go watch the movie to feed your inner Filipino.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Hi Irineo! It’s still good that we can talk like this and try to understand unfortunate events. As long as we care, we can share.

  10. popoy says:

    There was a proposed piece for a movie of a modern Romeo and Juliet written in Balita Toronto a few years ago which suggested to be starred for a come back by now in their best acting years Richard Gomez and Dawn Zulueta. Thought then it was a high “politically correct” one as conceived of a rekindled resurgent hot love of a pretty Lady Senator and a rags to riches handsome Provincial Governor. Knowing a country’s politics how it was then and now, it would have been more real life than a fantasy of Romeo and Juliet. But who knows if it would have won praises from a trying hard masses.

    I like to see Kita Kita the movie hoping it will be in Netflix soon and I admire the review as written here in TSOH the idea of love conquering physical blindness by mental cognition really says: LOVE CONQUERS ALL. The faults in this my comment may be obvious since I have not seen the movie nor read Wilfredo’s excellent rendition of it word for word.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Hi Popoy! Word for word, Popoy. I command you! Hahaha!

      • popoy says:

        In military communications, only generals and their commanders (wives) end their comm by command of; lesser ranks uses by order of. I don’t have the time to read word for word, your one minute takes me four minutes to do or cogitate. I like to avoid the varied meanings evoke by every word. I am verbose as it is now. If depends on the target whether one needs use a shotgun or a single shot sniper rifle.

  11. popoy says:

    This link is not to diminish but amplify the impact in TSOH of Wilfredo’s excellent piece. This is reality, a coin’s other side of fantasy.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Thanks for the link, Popoy. Enjoyed it immensely. You wonder, how can a group of sisters project such love and devotion coming from a country that seems devoid—even incapable—of such sentiments?

      • popoy says:

        You are welcome WGV, I look at their mother’s face which made everything that’s good in the link so Filipino, so worthy of admiration.

  12. NHerrera says:

    Trust Wil among us to be the best and untiring gold panner, unselfishly sharing with us those big nuggets of gold — lifting our spirit with love stories at these times when we need upliftment. May I be a nationalist and claim that Empoy and Lea’s story can only be a Filipino love story?

    • NH, maybe the comedic aspect or lifestyle (ie. OFWs in foreign country) of all this is culture-specific, but i’m sure handicap-to-normal love stories is a sub-genre of love stories in general.

      But what’s interesting IMHO is , is this sub -genre new? did Hollywood create it? or has it been around since the Greeks? I’m not familiar with literature on handicap love (either orthopedic, senses, or mental); the book that comes to mind immediately off the top is “Lolita” but that was more on age gap (and sex drive) than handicap.

      As far as movies, the most recent I saw was “Me Before You” quadraplegic , for deaf “Children of a Lesser God” , for blind though, all i can think of right now is “Daredevil”.

      This is definitely a sub-genre of love stories, how far it goes in story-telling history i’m not sure. But the appeal i think is in the suggestion that love is blind (literally in this case). That when you match 2 uneven couples, there’s something that’s there that binds them. What it is has to be love is the assumption… but i’m more interested in why there is this appeal in the first place, NH, ex. what happens if Lea

      suddenly gets her sight back, and wants to upgrade to a richer more handsome Empoy? Now you get to the love-tested genre of love stories (like “Indecent Proposal”, “Moulin Rouge” etc. etc.). As for a mashing up of these 2 genres, handicap-normal & love-tested , i think “Theory of Everything” Steven Hawking’s story comes closest.

      • sonny says:

        Maybe it’s just plain HOPE expressed as wishful thinking via a romantic bubble? 🙂

        • sonny says:

          I.E. shabu minus the addictive high?

          • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

            Hi Sonny! It happens everyday. It’s real, not wishful thinking. A bubble? Or the very firmament on which the country is built? Shabu minus the addictive high. Right! Endorphins can be triggered by love, food, friends, poetry, music, exercise or physical activity, also by banned substances. Why do people even go to the ugly side of getting high on life?

            • sonny says:

              A big HI back at you, Wil! I know you from the body of comments & blog entries you write, of course. And so among other things I conclude you are a glass half-full kind of guy rather than half-empty. I do understand what’s going on in your review of ‘Kita kita.’ My comment that you’re responding to is more about LCpl’s comment about the romantic movie genre in general rather than your review.

              As a rule I invest less attn reading reviews of movies I have not seen than those I saw. So it is a GO SEE vote for ‘Kita kita.’ By your recommendation, I will see the movie when it comes my way and then come back to your review and compare notes. I am the same way to those who ask my opinion of a movie, always keeping in mind the adage ‘de gustibus non est disputandum,’ i.e. there is no accounting for tastes. Incidentally the only Tagalog movies I’ve seen in the year were BARCELONA and APOCALYPSE CHILD. I rate them both as respectable cinema productions.

              (NOTE: Sorry for conflations that may seem to come across. 🙂 )

              • sonny says:

                PS My ‘golden age’ of movies still belong to the LVN, Sampaguita, Premiere tandem cinema production houses. I don’t have a critical volume of Tagalog works to render judgment on our young playwrights and artists. I defer to the critical eye of Wil for this.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Hi NH! Quota na ako. Nag-comment ka na. Hahaha! Thank you for the love!

  13. edgar lores says:

    1. From the title, the movie is about seeing.

    2. The repeated term “kita” has two meanings. In the first instance, it is a verb, meaning “to see.” In the second instance, it is a pronoun, in the second person form, meaning “you.” I see you. ICU.

    3. As I gather, the ironical conceit in this film about seeing is that the female protagonist, Lea, becomes blind. Yet in her blindness, she becomes capable of seeing something in the male protagonist, Empoy, something that she perhaps might not be able to see if she were not blind. This is so because, usually in our perceptions, we often focus on appearance alone. We fail to see beyond form and thus fail to grasp content, which is substance.

    4. Thus, in becoming blind, Lea is able to go pass the illusion of form and arrive at a perception of the substantial attributes of Empoy. Caring. Sacrificing. Humorous.

    5. As we know, perception is a puzzle. Perception can be contrafactual; it can be illusional or even delusional. We may be looking at the same object but have different, even opposite, impressions. The impressions may differ not only in form but in substance. This is most obvious in the case of

    5.1. Some see his form as prepossessing in its absolute certitude and, consequently, his substance — whatever it is — as something right, right to believe in and to follow.

    5.2. Some see his form as unprepossessing in its absolute inconsistency and, consequently, his substance as something wrong, wrong to even think and much less to perform.

    6. Caveat: it is a mistake to take the old dichotomy of form and content as a single-level binary or even as a dichotomy. The human form, for example, has many a content — bones and muscles and organs – and each element has its own form and substance. Note that substance may refer to material as well as to immaterial content. Function, for example, is immaterial; it is a process.

    6.1. The form and substance of Duterte are not homogenous. He may be right in some of his actions and wrong in others. But not all actions are equal and, on balance, we must give greater weight to actions that cause more harm than good.

    7. Of the five senses, the sense of sight predominates in terms of utility. It is our gateway to the external, it is our primary means of apprehending the world and each other. It is also synesthetic. We not only see with our eyes. We can speak and we can feel others with our eyes.

    8. As it happens, I am bingeing on Japanese films this winter. They are truly aesthetic in form and substance.

    8.1. A year ago, I happened to watch a samurai film “The Hidden Blade (2004)” on a government TV channel that shows great films free and on demand. Going back some years ago, I also chanced upon “Departures (2008).” Both films are about honor. The first is about living with honor and the second about honoring the departed.

    8.2. I wonder if our films involve around the concept of honor? My impression is that they don’t. If they do, it would be about honor as amor propio (self-love), and not as living integrally with heart and mind united.

    • NHerrera says:

      We seem to have a kindred thing in at least one aspect — I love a lot of things Japanese. The sense of honor is probably a big part of it.

      • I’m a big fan of those prints, NH. Just the art of it all, it moves me.

        For me, NH, it’s the prevalent (Samurai) idea of living your life as if already dead, whether the end result of that life philosophy is decadence or inward living, or somewheres in between, seems to me that that source of all things Japanese.

      • sonny says:

        “- I love a lot of things Japanese. …”

        This triggers a lot of other names, NH: Artemio Ricarte, patriarch of Aquino clan, Jose Laurel, Japayukis(?), …

    • josephivo says:

      There is something too about knowing and not knowing. People strongly overestimate what they know. How good you know a bicycle? Just try to make a sketch of its main components now. You see? What I mean with overestimation? And do you know how to make steel? Gears? The efficiency of a bicycle? A lot of this knowledge is not in your head but in other heads, books, internet or the things themselves.

      Indeed sight is our strongest sense, so strong that we confuse seeing with knowing. Blind people don’t have that problem, their sense of knowing is very different. Their awareness how much they rely on others for knowledge too.

      (Getting older you start even confusing fragmented knowledge with complete understanding, understanding with wisdom. Proof? Look at the septuagenarians Duterte or Trump.)

      • One can draw a more accurate bicycle from memory by drawing the empty spaces between the physical objects, which is an allegorical lesson that suggests the smartest people start by exploring what they don’t know and adapting their old knowledge to that. Most of us start by defending our incomplete knowledge, which is rather stupid. Thanks for that enlightenment.

        • NHerrera says:

          Made worse by starting with a personal objective and trying to force-fit the explanation and strategy/ moves against a modified objective for public consumption.

          • LOL! Like me arguing with Bill re “Might Makes Right” of the War of 1812, Joe. Last I read about the War of 1812 was 10th grade! Did I know then that i’d be arguing with another dude from Australia about its merits? no, i’m having to Wiki all this stuff up, but the essence of what was taught in high school, is still what frames my understanding of that War.

            So whatever that “essence” is, “our” perspective remains. The contents not so. Very timely, josephivo’s post , now I’m questioning much of my knowledge to account what i really know and what’s just the essence of it. But what is this “essence”, ie. in the War of 1812, that we were repelling the British, hence the protagonists; vis a vis Bill’s view that we were the antagonists for acting as France’s thorn.

            • sonny says:

              Ditto for me, re: the French Revolution, the Revolutionary coalitions vs France, Napoleonic Wars, et al., the period from 1789 to 1815 and the rolling heads of King Louis XVI & Marie Antoinette, Desiree & Marlon Brando. Ohhh, my head … 😦

              • Bill In Oz says:

                Lance & Sonny, what was taught about this history depends on what the governments wanted to propagandise !

                I’m happy to spell out the truth..As I have no skin in it.

                The USA revolution happened in 1776-82 with military help from absolutist monarchy France. Why ? Because anything that weakened ( parliamentary ruled ) Britain was good for France….So there emerged a de facto French/USA alliance that lasted for until about 1814.

                In France in 1789 there was the french revolution. Now this was very different to the earlier USA one. It was taken over and dominated by extremists who instituted a period of dictatorship, misrule, terror, and execution by guillotine. The King & Queen of France were executed in 1791. A huge proportion of the aristocracy were also executed and those who could fled. Tens of thousands fled, to the UK, to Germany, to Italy wherever. France also declared war on Britain in 1792 and on it’s other neighbors..Out of this maelstrom emerged Napoleon who came to power in ~~1796 because he was a competent general and won battles in Italy and at Toulon.

                For the USA France under Napoleon was a new dominant world power ‘safely’ far far away..So trading with France and getting a trading income was a good thing for the USA. For Britain it was the USA supporting an enemy just across the Channel. In 1804 Napoleon assembled an huge army in the ports of France & Belgium to invade Britain.

                But his navy was defeated at the battle of Trafalgar and without a powerful navy the safety of the invasion while crossing the channel could not be assured. The British navy blockaded all the ports of France and Western Europe The invasion was cancelled..Instead he invaded the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and eventually the Russian empire

                But France’s policy was to encourage the USA to be a thorn in Britain’s side : How by selling dead cheap to the USA all the Louisiana territory, all the land up the Missippippi to Canada and the city of New Orleans. A nice little buying friends and influencing people exercise by Napoleon.

                The USA Britain was on 1812-15 was fought in that context. The USA was just a minor ally of Napoleonic France to distract Britain in the war with France in Europe..

                When Napoleon was finally defeated & abdicated in 1814, the USA very quickly signed a peace treaty ( The treaty of Ghent )with no changes of territory…Now that was Britain being generous to the USA.

              • Nice historical brief, Bill. Thanks.

              • Bill,

                I totally agree with everything you’ve said here, both your strategic points as well as historical— everything jibes IMHO.

                But you’ve still missed the point of Might Makes Right vis-a-vis our War of Independence. Western European geopolitics at that time aside, why did American colonists insist on rebelling, because therein lies my argument for Might Makes Right, ie. use of violence focused on tyranny.

                Now as you’ve said, Australia was nowhere on the map then; Canada was a century behind the U.S. (just a bunch of fur trappers and traders); I have no idea where NZ was at this time. So maybe it’s one of those, eldest child teaching parents to be better parents deal, hence no revolts from the rest of the Anglosphere. But since then we’ve all been one happy family.

                British tyranny is famously outlined in the US Constitution’s first 10 Amendments, , these were written to ensure these abuses never happen again, but more important, these were the reasons we fought the British.

                Our Bill of Rights, popped up again in France, “directly influenced by Thomas Jefferson, working with General Lafayette, who introduced it.”

                There might be confusion as to which represented tyranny, between England & France (both monarchies); but between England and the American colonies, and her subjects, it was England hands down, hence Might Makes Right. Focus on the War of Independence, Bill.

              • sonny says:

                Thanks for the French aspirin, Bill. Also good for my blood, btw.

                The names Nelson, Marie-Antoinette, Robespierre, Napoleon, etc. have stayed from high school rote memory of that period. Now I learn the whys this late in life. 😦 Never too late, anyway.

              • Bill In Oz says:

                Hey Lance not much argument about the USA Revolution. The colonists wanted representation in the Commons and it was denied. Bloody stupid decision.

                But George III was mentally ill most of his long reign and the Revolutionary war was probably nothing to do with his decisions.

                You are right about the British government learning from that experience : none of the other British ‘colonies’ were denied their own parliaments..or taxed without it being approved by their own parliaments..

                ( Ireland was invited to wind up it’s own parliament and send then to the Commons…A big mistake but that is another story. )

        • popoy says:

          “(Getting older you start even confusing fragmented knowledge with complete understanding, understanding with wisdom. Proof? Look at the septuagenarians Duterte or Trump.)”

          I’ll say if I may about septuans Duterte and Trump, It COULD BE SOMETHING ELSE also. Lord Acton had said it in slow viral over many decades. Michael Korda gave it length in a book. it’s power .IT IS POWER seguro. Interesting read these blokes, but I have yet to see and read a neurologist’s discourse on the Physiology of POWER on the human brain or contrariwise, The Physiology of the Human Brain on POWER. .

          • popoy says:

            Marunong man o nagmamarunung lamang ang mga datan kung walang puersa sa pamahalaan o kaya’y alaws atik at yaman (money as potent source of power) kahit kamag anak o kapit-bahay walang makikinig sa mga tigulang.

          • sonny says:

            “… about septuans Duterte and Trump …”

            Now, this my punning and sarcastic heart likes: Recalling the honorific that was bestowed on Joseph Conrad’s hero in LORD JIM, Tuan Jim! We have our American and Filipino heroes – ‘tuan Digong and ‘tuan Donald!! 🙂

          • edgar lores says:

            Popoy, you are right that Duterte and Trump are drunk with power.

            However, power (or money) is not an alternative explanation to their “complete understanding.” It is a tool of their mastery. They revel in it and wield it bluntly and nakedly, Duterte more so than Trump.

            • popoy says:

              edgar how in the world did you get the idea of me thinking, saying people are DRUNK with power. That’s not so unlike a kind of free press style of reporting that crosses the border into gossiping and rumor mongering in a wet market section.

              • edgar lores says:

                Lord Action and extended logic.

              • popoy says:

                Edgar, I asked HOW, not where or from whom. Straight thinking I learned from school and from old philosophizing farmers distinguishes the fine line between a woman and a lady; a man from a gentleman.

              • edgar lores says:

                Popoy, What exactly did you mean to convey?

      • edgar lores says:

        Ah, the first sentence of the last parenthetical paragraph – how true!

        Several years ago, after retirement, I thought I had come to an acceptable understanding of myself and the world. But life continues to surprise, the good as well as the bad. Perhaps the excesses of the bad — especially those of Trump and Duterte — more than the awesomeness of the good.

        I was truly shocked by what Duterte said of PNoy yesterday. We have reached unknown depths in the abyss, which seems to be bottomless.

        • popoy says:

          In the annals of Philippine jurisprudence the fiscal (prosecutor and D.A. or AG) is the powerful God that sentinels the many gates of the Philippines Legal Olympus. The CJ of the SC is it’s ZEUS.

          • popoy says:

            As in Greek mythology it might already had happened that a God former mere sentinel had already tried to unseat Zeus.

  14. HannahYanu says:

    “There is nothing wrong with us. We will always be Tonyo country, unassuming and comfortable in our shoes, never never shy. And we will always be Lea, forgiving, open, not judgmental. blind when in love. We may have several Miss Universes, but walk around and you see Tonyo and Lea in everyone, eking out a living, having fun, holding hands, finding love in unexpected circumstances, a people rocked by natural and self-made calamities but destined to love because we are simply good at it—we were made for it.”

    And just like that, my exasperation with us as a people somewhat ebbs. And I stumble upon a little bit more understanding of how it is that we can oust a thieving dictator, yet confer an unprecedented 81% approval rating of a murderous thug for a president. This boundless capacity for love that moved us to reject a fascistic despot is the same dexterity of love to believe that beyond the savage killings, we shall find a blueprint for a place of our own as clean and fragrant and scenic as Hokkaido. This boundless skill in love comes from a bewildering elasticity of the heart to forgive–ojojo, and forget–the transgressions of unfaithful partners and insincere leaders. And from a stubborn refusal to pass judgment on our oppressors–lovers or leaders they may be.

    For what is love if not Tonyo’s perseverance of pursuit, despite rejection after rejection from the porch? And what is love if not Lea’s sense of compassion–sterling and true–even for a down-and-out vagrant she doesn’t know? Maybe there lies their and their people’s redemption.

    All of these would be just fine if the losses–of life and dignity–were also on celluloid only. Except they are not.

    Thank you, Mr. Villanueva, for stilling my rage momentarily.

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Hi Hannah! I had to read your comment several times. Joe is right. Comments in The Society of Honor are gems in and of themselves. I shall cherish your words, especially if my own rage seeks to break out of its cage, put there by me like I would a rabid dog which must never be let loose lest I myself become rabid and a danger to society. It’s a struggle to remain hopeful and forward looking in the Age of Dut but there will always be people like you and me who will never stop believing that this too shall pass and we can live lives of quiet rejoicing once again. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Thank you so much.

  15. Taylor Davis says:

    Hi Lance! Thanks for the encouragement. Live Show? Let me look for it. Muslim DVD sellers have thinned on account of Netflix, Go Movies, YouTube. I hope delicious covers can still be found. At the very least you gave me a good excuse for the wifey to dig into the depths.

  16. karlgarcia says:

    I have finally seen I shi yu- I see You or (Na) kita kita.

  17. The movie was great, I came across it, the actors are very talented. The script can not be impeccable. Thank you very much, thank you who wrote this script.

  18. Demfy says:

    This movie is great. I like it so much…

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