“LOLA Magdalena” is the first completed movie submitted as a possible entry in the coming December MMFF that had its press preview. We hope they will be chosen as an official entry as the heartwarming film certainly deserves to be seen by a wider audience.
Director Joel Lamangan says that despite its delicate theme about prostitution, the MTCB gave it a rating of PG or Parental Guidance, meaning kids can watch it as long as they’re with their parents.
“I was really surprised,” says Direk Joel. “I was expecting at least R13 but obviously, they enjoyed watching the movie.”
And we’re not surprised because the treatment is quite light and in the end, it’s really a feel good movie, uniformly well acted by the huge ensemble cast. The script is well written by Dennis Evangelista, who is also the line producer.
The characters are well defined and all have their own story arcs and closures. The film is told mainly from the point of view of Gloria Diaz as Dalena, who works by day as an albularyo in the church grounds, but at night, she moonlights as a street walker.
She hankers for forgiveness from her estranged daughter, Mayette (Harlene Bautista), who has disowned her as a mother for trying to pimp her before to some clients. She tries her best to correct her mistakes through her grandchild, Angel (Angel Guardian), who gets afflicted with a chronic disease.
It’s also the story of Bella (Liza Lorena) who, apart from being a prostitute at night, is also a pimp. She owns the house where the girls stay.
It’s an old house that she inherited from her dead lover, Donato. But Donato’s son, Mauro (Jim Pebanco), says he is the real legal owner of the house and he wants to kick out Bella and company.
Corazon (Perla Bautista) is the oldest member of their group. She has dementia and continues to pine for her old boyfriend, Ernesto (Joonee Gamboa), who she believes will come back one day to claim her.
Then there’s the bubbly Luningning (Pia Moran), who is fond of dancing and is having an affair with a much younger man, Daks (Carlo San Juan), who happens to be living with a young girl. She gives him a motorcycle and when Bella ejects her out of their house, she lives with Daks and his lover, ending up as their housemaid. In the end, she will come to her senses and learn the values of self respect and dignity.
The youngest member of the group is Miriam (Sunshine Cruz), who is the devoted breadwinner of her family. Her mom (Myrna Castillo) and two younger siblings all depend solely on her. After three decades of being a whore, she bleeds one day and is diagnosed to have a terminal illness.
All of them are given their own memorable moments to shine. Gloria Diaz succeeds in making herself a cheap streetwalker in many scenes. First is when she performed a striptease act inside the cemetery for randy teenagers and started crying due to the humiliation she gets from them while dancing.
Another touching scene is when she agrees to perform in a porno film and gets arrested. Then she gets interviewed while in jail and tells a reporter that she did it to help her sick granddaughter.
Liza Lorena sizzles as the feisty Bella, who will not back down each time Jim Pebanco tries to bully her to drive her out of the house she got from his late dad. Liza is the most courageous among the ladies, forever holding a bottle of beer to help her get through the day.
Perla Bautista is so moving in the scenes where she’s apparently living in the past, longing for the return of the lover who left her. Your heart will go out for her in that scene where she wanders in the streets all by herself, sees a procession, joins it, and whaddaya know, her prayers are finally answered!
Pia Moran is so entertaining as the perky Luningning who loves dancing. Her best scene is when her lover tries to reconcile with her but she adamantly rejects him, declaring she has had enough of men who only exploit her.
Sunshine Cruz has the most pathetic role as Miriam because she has a thankless family. Sunshine will break your heart in that wordless scene where misery is written all over her face and she is screaming but without any sound.
In the midst of their struggles, we get to see how these downtrodden women get to console and comfort each other. Life has never been easy for these unfortunate souls, but they struggle on and show the world that they are true survivors of life’s trials and adversities.