“imbisibol, the movie”: somewhere along the way, you miss people and loose them all…


Unseen real-life dramas are better felt without any exaggerations and hypes. It’s simply felt and seen by the heart. Over-acting of characters and dramatic highs are deeply seen when a single character evokes too much sensitivity that ‘one’ can just shout with tears whether he dies or not in the end of a tragic story. 

It’s a suppressed feeling that many people deny. Or ignore. With all the complex characters involved in the film Imbisibol rolled into one, a soul rescued them all. And the bondage released. It’s the soul of that young man who ran deep within the snow and was gone from the last frame of the movie Imbisibol.

He somehow saved all the other characters of the film from further persecutions or jail terms, he was the ‘sacrificial lamb’ in the unseen hands of God. He was, yes, the truly INVICIBLE man at the end.

A young man who simply dreamed of a better life and put all his guts and will to work hard- for the future of her baby daughter. A young Filipino man, who, just like any other young man, had feelings of love for a girl, had drinking buddies, too, and worried on how to pay his rental bills. But as irony and bad fate struck, he lost them all forever in a glimpse of an eye.

Somewhere along the way, you miss people and loose them all. This is the truest essence and feeling of awe when you watch the film Imbisibol, in which, the truest plight and journey of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW’s) were presented in such a great calm, authenticity, danger and care.

The director of this film, a young married man and a father, too- in person of director Lawrence Fajardo, could have identified himself to that character portrayed in the film by a great young actor- Mr. JM de Guzman. For he did able present the character in its most accurate form and detail, that you’d miss that young man within you, who was working hard, starting a life with a new family, but distracted by many tribulations and envy.

A blogger had met that side of his self years ago, and he still sees it now to many young people he meets in drinking sessions and parties, as they tell stories of their adventures in far-away places. Young men, mostly.

To be able to survive in a foreign land, you must be as wise as a serpent and as free-wheeling as doves. But some don’t make it much. A few dies. Lesser ones return home a FAILURE.

As you grow old and weary working your butts-off just to send some money to your loved ones back home, you cling to other things and loose yourself- again. This was presented, on the other hand, by Allen Dizon’s (who won the Best Actor award at Sinag Maynila fest) character in the film. He became a gambler, a hustler and a “has-been”. Yet, he survived. How ironical, isn’t it? Compared to that of JM de Guzman’s character who was purer and more honest, Allen’s character will live in the end, while JM’s died.

Not even the landlady who tried her best to save them all could no more do a thing at the end. She just hanged-in there and closed the glass sliding doors, looking-in for more hopes and miracles, together with an old friend who simply visited her in that apartment row of “illegal aliens” in a Japanese countryside.

The landlady and the old friend were no less than portrayed in the film by Ms. Ces Quesada and Bernardo Bernardo. The climactic ending scenes were executed with subtlety and raw passion. Yet truly felt. As Ces’ and Bernardo’s characters tried to laugh it off back, tears were hidden and joys were gone. As they were the elders in this little “illegal aliens” community of Japan, they, again, could do no more as the Japanese authorities were already pursuing the accidental criminal and the inevitable domino-effect “entrapment” of the other illegal aliens who were all staying there.

And this is NOT a beautiful story, after all. Because you would feel for the safety of your fellow Filipinos working there in Japan, because you would suddenly remember your relatives who also works there, because you would cry for justice, for equality, for love.

But the director of the film greatly presented this in lyrical and poetic form. In ‘still lives’ (almost like picturesque paintings) and smooth melodies. What more could you ask for?

This is JM de Guzman’s greatest acting film. His scenes here may not be mainstream-ly ‘executed’, but tremendous in accuracy and catches. His eyes speak, his body moves forming like perfect pictures and landscapes and his aura, whew, greatly transformed into deepest sensibilities.

Ms. Ces Quesada’s fine acting skills added more subdued intensity all-throughout the film. How could a very good character actress like her very seldom gets a role like this in a lifetime? We dare ask. She truly deserved the Best Actress award she got in this film.

Allen Dizon’s delivery, on the other hand, was so consistent. Maybe this was the reason why he got the trophy, too. He was truly “in character”.

Ricky Davao, who appeared briefly in the few scenes at the first part of the film, was awesome. You would miss his character all throughout the film …

The cinematography of this film, added with a great production design and texture was truly marvelous and unforgettable. It created a lingering feeling of  “absence and captivity”.

The direction, the finest among them, crafted by the hands of a young and promising indie film maker- would last a LIFETIME.

In the end, there’s one great SOUL who provided the MAGNIFICENCE.

His little nuances of acting, his slight but meaningful executions of words and dialogues, his great sensitivity incomparable to that of an old man’s- was, indeed, ETHEREAL IN FORM.

One veteran actor, one giant in the field of performing artistry, one humble person- MADE IT ALL LARGER THAN LIFE ITSELF- VIA THIS FILM.

And his name: Bernardo Bernardo.

Because without him and his character in this film,

Again, we say, that life would never be the same again…




(words by robert manuguid silverio)


imbi imbi2thanks to:

“Cavatina” (from the movie “the deer hunter”) – by Ana Vidovic