Above the Clouds Film Thoughts


Written and Directed by: Pepe Diokno

This much awaited second film of Pepe Diokno had its Philippine premiere last August 14 at the 11th Cinemalaya Film Festival. Compared to Diokno’s first feature film, Engkwentro, a seat clenching gang and crime story which exposes the ugly truth of our society today, Above the Clouds dwells on the adventure of two people for peace and freedom from emotional burden while stunningly showcasing the breathtaking mountainous area of the country.

This artistic work aims to evoke essence and emotion through good visuals but the question is, was it enough?

The story started with a teenager, Andres played by Ruru Madrid, losing his parents due to a natural disaster. He was then forced to live with his estranged grandfather, played by Pepe Smith, who he has never seen for years. The two then embarks on a hiking adventure with an attempt to reconnect to each other as a family.

Basically the plot offers no twists and it isn’t necessary to have so. It’s all about dealing with emotions as one tries to reach out while the other runs away from everything. From time to time, Pepe Smith effortlessly throws humorous lines that sends the whole theater to laughter. It succeeds in this aspect but it still struggles to build up deep tear-jerking moments that would’ve instilled a better impression to the audience as a greatly moving film rather than just a visually successful one.

Symbolism in the film though was often and becomes very interesting and it supported the articulation of the characters’ troubles and grief. Yet, Above the Clouds, despite its artistic value, is honestly predictable. At the latter part, the audience was actually watching more of for the view only and not for its totality anymore. Let’s give credit though to some interesting parts in the film like when Andres ran of to the woods in the middle of the night, you just can’t help but feel agitated for him and for his grandfather who was very worried about his grandson.

I commend the film for raising up the garbage issue in Mt. Pulag. It displayed the ugly result of leaving our dirt in a beautiful creation like the said mountain. I’ve been there myself and though there wasn’t that many garbage there as in the film, the locals are still very troubled about this issue because it disturbs the sacredness of the place.

One thing difficult to accept though is the vandalism in the mountain. It is just not right that they also showed vandalism on the rocks of the mountain in the film, like lovers putting their names there. I know that it has a purpose in the film but I would’ve suggest that it could’ve been altered into something else, like just maybe a hidden letter under the rock. There are a lot of tourists climbing up there every day and it may encourage other people to do the same vandalism, which isn’t a good idea. As filmmakers that could influence other people, you should be careful about even just unintentionally suggesting an undesirable idea to anyone that could result to the degradation of anything especially our natural wonders.

Bottom line is, I do recommend this film and please do watch it. It still is a refreshing film to view without that many characters or things going on it. It aims for the soul rather than the mind. Though I admit, to do this perfectly, the film could have had a better script. It is a one of a kind idea for a film but it still needed more. It took a road less traveled but it still striving to get to its destination. But along the road, it could introduce you to some wonderful things and it did so for me.


Cinemalaya 2015 Awarding Ceremony

_MG_9897 _MG_9915

The winners of the 11th Cinemalaya Film Festival were awarded at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino of the Cultural Center of Philippines last Saturday night.

Since Cinemalaya only had 10 short films in competition this year, there were no awards for full length films. Here are the list of the winners:

Audience Choice Award: “Sanctissima” by Kenneth Dagatan

Best Screenplay: Darwin Novicio (“Papetir”)

NETPAC Award: “Wawa” by Angelie Mae Macalanda

Special Jury Prize: “Wawa” by Angelie Mae Macalanda

Best Director: Petersen Vargas (“Lisyun Qng Geografia”)

Best Film: “Pusong Bato” by Martika Ramirez Escobar

_MG_0002 _MG_0026

The festival organizers also announced the 10 competing full length films next year under the main competition category and they are:

Ang Bagong Pamilya Ni Ponching” (directors: Inna Salazar and Victor Villanueva)

“Ang Mga Bisita Ni Mamang” (Janice and Denise O’Hara)

“Dagsin” (Atom Magadia)

“Hiblang Abo” (Ralston Jover)

“I America” (Ivan Andrew Payawal)

“Kusina” (David Corpuz and Cenon Palomares)

“Lando At Bugoy” (Vic Acedillo, Jr.)

“Mercury Is Mine” (Jason Paul Laxamana)

“Pamilya Ordinaryo” (Eduardo Roy, Jr.)

and “Tuos” ( Derick Cabrido)

With these films, Cinemalaya 12 is surely something to watch out for.


Directors of the 10 competing films next year.


Directors of the 10 competing short films this year.


All of the directors with the festival heads.

Lawton as the Terminal Capital of Manila

IMG_1170 _MG_9773 IMG_1213

Lawton Plaza was named after General Henry Ware Lawton. General Lawton was the highest ranking American official killed in the Philippine-American War. He was shot by a Filipino sharpshooter at the Battle of Paye in December 19, 1899.

Lawton Plaza was officially changed to Liwasang Bonifacio (after Philippine hero, Andres Bonifacio) in the 1970s. However, people have been so used to calling this place Plaza Lawton that the old name is still commonly used to this day.

IMG_1175 _MG_9809

Today, Lawton is known to be one of the busiest districts in Manila. It is home to various public transport hubs plying to different places and provinces around Metro Manila. These public transport terminals include Park ‘N Ride, Light Rail Transit Central Terminal, Manila Multimodal Terminal and Pasig Ferry Lawton Terminal.

_MG_9815 _MG_9816

These terminals are always filled with long lines of people, mostly students and office workers during afternoon rush hour. Alongside the exhaustion that the passengers are trying to bear, they also have to deal with heat because of poor ventilation in these terminals. Other than that, safety can be a problem in this area. There is a lack of police visibility and people, especially students who are in a hurry to go home, can be very prone to snatching.

_MG_9800 IMG_1205

It is recommended that the officials make these Lawton terminals a safer and comfortable area for everyone who is traveling to or from their homes. Keep the area clear from potential snatchers or holdapers by making police power visible. Plus, provide better seats or waiting area for those who are waiting for their rides. Keep the waiting area properly ventilated. Also, it is better to strengthen the regulation of the terminal vehicles such as the vans, buses, jeeps and the ferries to keep causing too much traffic on its pathways.

   _MG_9817Lawton remains an important area in the city. It’s like this portal that will bring you to your desired destination. We don’t want that portal to close in any way. Why don’t we take care of it and keep it very much alive?

To The Person I miss But Won’t Admit

I just woke up one day and felt like I wanted to tell you a lot of things. Things that concern you, things that doesn’t. Feelings that come randomly, emotions that suck me. Life is easy but it feels empty. No….life is weird. It can’t be defined by one emotion or feeling. It’s ever changing. One day you feel fine, one day you’re not. It comes and it goes. That’s what you taught me. One moment you’re there and then another you’re gone. It doesn’t know how to stay, it wasn’t born like that. You weren’t born like that, the person I imagined. But I still lie about you. Lie about not wanting what I wanted you to be, what I wanted you to do for me, what I wanted you to do with me. I hope you don’t know that. I guess I’m still scared about what you can do to me, if not I won’t be this defensive. But you say feelings come and go. I miss you but one day I would forget that I ever did so.

-The Pathetic