If you want a good cry
STAR BYTES - Butch Francisco () - September 11, 2010 - 12:00am

I try not to miss Sunday Mass. However, I am the type of Catholic who only hears Mass (I attend the anticipated Saturday Mass, actually) because school and family taught me that it is a sin (mortal) to skip it.

I don’t appreciate church choirs either because I feel that all that singing only prolongs the Mass (something is really seriously wrong with my sense of spirituality — that much I admit). The only time I enjoy listening to choirs is when they sing either Tanging Yaman or Sa ‘Yo Lamang.

These two songs have been used as titles and theme songs of Laurice Guillen movies for Star Cinema. In 2000, Tanging Yaman nearly won Best Picture in the Gawad Urian (it lost to Jeffrey Jeturian’s Tuhog) and gave Laurice her third Urian Best Director trophy, plus the Best Actress nod to Gloria Romero. And now, we have Sa ‘Yo Lamang, which is another family drama.

Sa ‘Yo Lamang is about a family abandoned 10 years earlier by the father, Christopher de Leon, for another woman. He now wants to return to his wife, Lorna Tolentino, and children: Bea Alonzo, Coco Martin, Enchong Dee and Miles Ocampo. Everyone else wants to accept Christopher back, except for Bea because — as the eldest — she was the one who suffered most from the parents’ separation. She was witness to how her mother cried buckets and personally had to sacrifice even her love life for the sake of her younger siblings.

The rest of the story takes on different twists and turns that it begins to come out like an extended soap opera. Before one issue could be resolved, here comes another one of life’s supposed complications.

However, that is precisely how Sa ‘Yo Lamang provides entertainment value to viewers and I give it to the film for succeeding in making the lachrymal glands of people in the audience work overtime. Yes, it is a watch-it-and-weep type of melodrama. It doesn’t disappoint as an entertainment fare. 

At some point, Sa ‘Yo Lamang becomes a woman’s film because majority of the male characters here are depicted as heels, save for Zanjoe Marudo, who is the faithful boyfriend of Bea Alonzo. But the rest of the men in the movie are uncaring, unfeeling and insensitive rascals: Diether Ocampo as Bea’s old flame, who toys with her feelings; Coco, who mistreats a young woman (Shaina Magdayao) he gets pregnant and, of course, Christopher, who is so irresponsible, you just want to tell him to get lost.

Of course, the women have their flaws, too. Bea, as the breadwinner, becomes a power-tripper and a nag. And then, there is Lorna who gets even with her philandering husband that she gets herself pregnant by another man and she gives the child away.

That last twist, unfortunately, was just too much for me. I can’t imagine any mother as responsible as the way Lorna is depicted in the film to be giving up her own flesh and blood because of her legitimate children — and to keep the family whole. That was stretching the story too far, if you ask me.

Fortunately, the stars in this movie are credible performers that they can make up for whatever flaws there are in the story line. Everyone contributes to the success of Sa ‘Yo Lamang in the acting department. The tense-filled confrontation involving everyone in the family in their front yard is already worth the admission price.

Bea is given a lot of demanding acting highlights and she excels in most of these. The young cast members, however, have to take the backseat to the two acting greats of Philippine cinema — Christopher and Lorna.

Christopher is still the King of Drama. His role in Sa ‘Yo Lamang is quite difficult since it is not always that sympathetic. Among the characters in the story, his is the greyest. But he delivers, as expected, and we applaud him for his very convincing portrayal of a repentant husband and father, who is torn between his two families.

Lorna goes into hysterics in this film, rather unusual for the queen of understated acting. However, she makes sure she doesn’t go out of bounds and still turns in a tempered and even performance. Lorna could have eaten up whole all the young performers, but she proves to be unselfish and gives everyone the opportunity to shine. I guess this is because she has nothing to be insecure about anymore. Hers is a very challenging role to begin with and Lorna gives it her all. She really just gets better and better through the years.

Visually, the film has the usual gloss you expect from a Star Cinema project. The production design is basically correct. I also like the touches of having religious images all over the house of the family (stressing the fact that they are Catholic), particularly the statue of St. Joseph in the living room to symbolize the children’s need for a father figure.

For all my misgivings about Sa ‘Yo Lamang going overboard with the story development, I still say that it is a movie worth watching. If you want a good cry, this is the film for you. It’s an excellent drama for the whole family. More than that, it teaches a lot about forgiving.

As a whole, Sa ‘Yo Lamang is a must-see because it can be spiritually uplifting.

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