The Filipino diaspora is a rich source of materials for the silver screen. Numerous movies have been made depicting the lives of our overseas countrymen and countrywomen. Most of the movies showed the struggles and challenges faced by our fellow Filipinos working on foreign to provide a better life for their families. Moreover, these movies have shown that working overseas is not always living on a bed of roses.


Directed by Lawrence Fajardo, Imbisibol is a good material for Filipinos who want to know the lives and experiences of our compatriots working in Japan.


Produced by award-winning director Brillante Mendoza and Wilson Tieng, Imbisibol was one of the films shown during the recently concluded French Filmfest held nationwide.


Acting-wise, Imbisibol has a stellar cast. Led by Ces Quesada (Manang Linda), she is ably supported by JM de Guzman (Rodel), Bernardo Bernardo (Benjie), and Allen Dizon (Manuel). Although they have various experiences, the Filipinos have the same objective-send money back to their families.


Quesada is impressive in her acting displaying compassion to her troubled countrymen. It is doubly challenging for Linda as she also has to fight the challenges in her marriage to a Japanese. But Linda has no choice but to grab the bull by the horns so to speak. She is always at odds with her husband who wants her to evict the illegals living in the apartment they are renting out. However, Linda cannot turn back on her countrymen even though some of them are not legitimate workers.


The roles of Bernardo Bernardo and Ricky Davao will get the sympathy of the audience as two aging OFWs who comfort each other to fight the loneliness in Japan. Furthermore, the audience will be touched by the predicament of Benjie who has been struggling in keeping pace with his two jobs and grabbing every opportunity to catch sleep. The two men have formed a strong bond through the years which was suddenly cut when Eduardo (Ricky Davao) was apprehended by immigration officials as an illegal alien.


As an aging hosto (sex worker), Allen Dizon’s character represents the Filipino shady character. Although always on the lookout to make a fast buck on every opportunity, he is motivated just like any Pedro, Jose and Juan to give our families a brighter future. The story of Manuel is familiar to Filipinos as we hear an OFW caught in a debt trap because of his gambling addiction and other vices.


JM de Guzman displays an impressive transformation from a boy-next-door to a more serious character. As a young laborer who wants to earn honest money to send for his daughter and family, he is being confronted by a fellow Filipino who envies his promotion. During the action scenes, de Guzman shows the emotional stress through his facial expression of a troubled OFW.


Having been filmed in Japan, perhaps the Japanese style of filmmaking has a great influence on the style of Imbisibol. It is just like the Japanese dramas which is quiet and no Filipino melodramatic hysterics.


Overall, Imbisibol captures all the experiences of each character in the movie that is familiar to us. The more than 10 million OFWs have their own stories, too, but they share the same aspirations, goals and objectives for their family and country. Although the film does not give a solution or stand on the issue of illegal workers, Imbisibol deserves to be seen by Filipinos to learn and appreciate the sacrifices of the OFWs.


August 2016 Health and Lifestyle

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