The Search to Involve Pilipino Americans co-presented two Filipino films at the 31st Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival: “Hari Ng Tondo” and “That Thing Called Tadhana.”
The two were among more than four dozen shorts, documentaries and feature films screened at theaters in Little Tokyo, Koreatown and West Hollywood during the festival, which took place from April 23 to 30.
FilAm Arts and FilAm Creative also co-presented the films, which were screened at the CGV Cinemas in Koreatown on Wednesday, April 29.
‘Hari Ng Tondo’
“Hari Ng Tondo” (“Where I am King”) tells the story of Ricardo Villena (portrayed by Robert Arevalo) who is about to go bankrupt. That same day, he discovers his granddaughter Anna (Cris Villonco) is no longer getting married and his grandson Ricky (Rafa Siguion-Reyna) has once again failed to graduate from college.
Anna drops plans to tie the knot after finding out her fiance was cheating, while Ricky wants to simply compose songs and sing them.
Ricardo believes his grandchildren’s sheltered upbringing is the reason they are unable to face life’s trials, so he takes them to his birthplace, Tondo, to expose them to what life was like when he grew up there.
The idea is not appealing to Ricardo’s children, the parents of Anna and Ricky. However, because Anna’s mom continues insisting she marries her fiance in spite of his philandering, and because Ricky’s dad only wants him to pursue college and abide by that plan, the two decide to follow their grandfather to Tondo.
At their grandfather’s birthplace, Anna and Ricky stay at a deteriorating tenement housing complex owned by Ricardo called “alapaap.” It’s not the same as it was during Ricardo’s time, but he wants the cousins to toughen up. He says if they endure the lifestyle in Tondo, they will have gained much.
The storyline focuses largely on the duration of Anna’s and Ricky’s stay in Tondo and what lessons they learned in that period of time.
At the conclusion of the screening, scriptwriter and producer Bibeth Orteza told the audience that the entire film was shot in a period of 12 days, which was the most challenging aspect of the production. The project received 540,000 PHP of funding from Cinemalaya.
“Hari Ng Tondo” was directed by Carlos Siguion-Reyna and has a runtime of 91 minutes.
The film was released in the Philippines last year and was screened at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. It is also being screened at the Hawaii International Film Festival, will be shown at the Seattle International Film Festival and Udine Far East Film Festival in Italy.
“That Thing Called Tadhana”
Romantic comedy “That Thing Called Tadhana” (or “That Thing Called Meant-to-Be”) was the final Filipino film screened on April 29 for the festival. Starring Angelica Panginiban as Mace and JM de Guzman as Anthony, the romcom depicts an unusual, chance encounter and relationship development between two single individuals who cross paths at an airport in Italy.
Mace is on her way back to the Philippines but is unable to check in her bags, as they exceed the weight limitation. As she tosses articles of clothing into a trash can, Anthony stops by and offers to store some of her belongings in his bag, which has extra room.
Once they arrive in the Philippines, the two end up chatting while eating at a restaurant. Eventually Mace tells Anthony she had gone to Italy to visit her boyfriend who relocated for a job opportunity. When Mace arrived in Italy, she found out her boyfriend had been seeing someone else. She is heartbroken and repeatedly expresses her disbelief to Anthony, as she had been in that relationship for eight years. How could he throw all that time away?
By nightfall, the two are still exchanging stories. When sunrise comes, they are on a bus on their way to Baguio. Mace is confused, and Anthony reminds her that she said the previous night she wanted to go to Baguio.
By the time they eventually make their way home, they had both exchanged stories of broken hearts and developed a charming friendship.
“That Thing Called Tadhana” was written and directed by Antoinette Jadaone and has a runtime of 110 minutes.