'Thy Womb' and its significance
|Nora Aunor and her iconic eyes|
|Stilt houses of Badjao. source|
“There are three types of Badjao based on their forms of residence: The Sedentary, with commercial pursuits and permanent homes, such as in Sitangkai (where Thy Womb shot), a municipality in Tawi-Tawi province; the Semi-sedentary, who spend periods alternately between their households and their houseboats and their village in Sisangat or Siasi island; and the Sea gypsies, who live in houseboats as itinerant fisher folk in search of rich fishing grounds.” As you observe in the film, Shaleha and Bangas-An (Bembol Roco) belong to the Sendentary group of Badjao. They live in a community; they have simple life; they transact and do business; and they socialize with other people.
|Badjao's festive-like wedding|
Aisha’s (Mercedes Cabral) wedding ceremony shows how festive the wedding of the Badjao. Singing of lugu (a wedding song) is sung during the ceremony; women and girls (and also Aisha) performed their traditional dance called lagal or pangalay; colorful tadjongs are worn by the women and girls; delicious foods are serve to the guests. Maligai (flags) is displayed to express the parents’ consent to the marriage. The Imam (religious leader) leads the wedding ceremony.
|Badjao's religious beliefs and practices are mix with orthodox Islam and animism|
“Religious practices have been influence by Islam, the predominant religion of the area immediately outside Badjao territory. For example, the healer also doubles as the Imam; hence, the practice of healing and curing is mixed with some Islamic rituals.” In the film, there is a scene where fishes are floating in their community. The Imam in their village performs a ritual to ask guidance and keep them away from this bad omen.
Mendoza is branded as the master of poverty porn. Though this brand has a negative connotation, he still presents his film with intensity. Most of his previous films deal with the different faces of poverty in the Philippines. Thy Womb has its own twists because it tackles the “new facets of the plight of Filipino indigenous peoples.” Some of its symbolic scenes (e.g. the church and mosque scene) make the viewers think. This film is an outcry because its issues are shun or buried into oblivion.
Nora Aunor shines as brighter as ever. She is undeniably our superstar. She is the master of her own career because she can choose or produced her roles. Her acting in Thy Womb is simple yet effective in extracting emotions.
Thy Womb is not only emotionally entertaining but also intellectually stimulating. It’s a reminder that we should be culture sensitive. It is also serves as wake up call to be awakened in the real issues in Mindanao. It helps us think on how we are going to be the part of the solution to this problem.
CCP ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILIPPINE ART Vol. 1, Peoples of the Philippines: Aeta to Jama Mapun