“Mahirap maging mahirap.”
Filipino poet and rock musician Dong Abay once said those words in his song “Mateo Singko” in which he vividly described the everyday lives of Pinoys who Vice President Leni Robredo would probably refer to as “mga nasa laylayan ng lipunan.” Being poor is even harder in a third world country such as ours that’s rife with injustice and inequality.
This is a truth that is painfully depicted on the silver screen by the movie Pamilya Ordinaryo. If you’ve seen the trailers, you might have dismissed the movie as “poverty porn” the way most indie films that tackle these topics are accused of being. You might also be quick to dismiss it as “the one that stars Coco Martin’s less famous brother”. But you would be doing yourself a disservice because Pamilya Ordinaryo is definitely so much more than that.
The film won the Best Full-length Feature Film Award, Best Editing award, and the Best Directing award in the recently concluded Cinemalaya Film Festival. Pamilya Ordinaryo is directed by Eduardo Roy, Jr. and stars Ronwaldo Martin and Hasmine Kilip as Aries and Jane Ordinaryo. Aries and Jane are glue-sniffing teenage street-dwellers that just recently had a child together. They decided on the name “Arjan” for the baby by combining both their names. So other than taking care of a child, they’re also obviously ill-equipped to think of a name for your newly caught Pokemon.
To say that Aries and Jane are poor is an understatement. There are poor people, like those who have no choice but to live on a diet of Lucky Me Pancit Canton on most days. And then there are those like Aries and Jane who sniff glue to forget about their hunger and who resort to robbing hapless pedestrians for a living. Already leading lives that leave little to be desired, their existence is put in further disarray when a seemingly charitable transsexual ends up running away with Baby Arjan.
With no money, no resources, and no idea where to go, the young couple scour Metro Manila trying to look for their baby. Along the way they encounter people who are sympathetic to their plight, those who really couldn’t care less about them, and those who wouldn’t think twice to take advantage of their situation even further.
Pamilya Ordinaryo is hard to watch at times because it’s never easy to see people actually living this way. Parang pag nasa kotse ka tapos may lumapit sayong pulubi para manlimos. More often than not, you can get away with just ignoring them and just minding your own business. Out of sight, out of mind sabi nga nila. But this film forces you to see how these people actually live and it’s jarring and disconcerting to say the least. The saddest thing about it though is that you know that this is the everyday reality that you choose to ignore. The title of the movie is an obvious reference to Aries and Jane’s last name. But while we wouldn’t exactly call people like them “the ordinary Filipino family”, their situation is sadly quite ordinary and we all know it.
The movie, more than anything, is a social commentary on injustices against the poor, females, and homosexuals as well. When Jane loses the baby, Aries is quick to blame her. While you might think that that’s natural because she was the one who lost the baby in the first place, Aries also subjects her to constant physical abuse and humiliation. A few minutes later, you see them walking side by side as if nothing at all happened. This the norm in their relationship and this is also the norm in a lot of domestic relationships in the country.
8/10. Pamilya Ordinary is a Pinoy indie film that’s anything but ordinary. Fueled by authentic performances from the cast, it gives us a long and honest look on the lives of Filipinos who have struggle just to get through the day.