This is my first time to watch a regional film from the Visayas, one of the featured films in the 4th Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino. Salvi: Ang Pagpadayon (Salvi: The Journey Continues) is a 2013 independent Hiligaynon film (with English subtitles) written and directed by T.M. Malones.
The film is set in a post-apocalyptic province where the area is dry and desolate as a result of overpopulation, depletion of natural resources, war and genocide. As an effort of conservation, a camp leader named Ama gathers the women into her camp (kampo, in Filipino). Ama has a brother named Kapon (Allain Hablo) who she beats up whenever he misbehaves.
Salvi (Brittany Marie Baldoza) chooses to make himself look like a boy in order to survive and to avoid being kidnapped and brought to the camp. She was too young then when she witnessed how her elder sister Isabel was kidnapped and believed to have been brought to the camp. After her father’s death, Salvi sets out on a journey to find her sister.
Along the way, she encountered Abet (Ulysses Apocay, Jr.), a young petty thief who claims to know where the camp is. But they are caught by gay bandits who imprisoned them in a labor camp. There, they meet Kardo (Rodgee Borja), a prisoner who is the apple of the eye of the gay bandits’ leader named Madonna. Then the three of them escape from the gay bandits to find Ama’s camp for women. Upon reaching her destination, Salvi faces horrible truths and revelations.
The film is successful in portraying a dark, gritty, and tragic post-apocalyptic scenario. Salvi is a smart, practical woman and is effective to pass herself as a boy. The audience hooks up with her as the main character at the beginning until the end. Abet is consistently greedy, but has a good heart when his true identity is revealed.
The film tries to be profound in its message but it still lacks that kind of punch in the gut for the audience to perceive it. Although the idea of cannibalism is possibly normal in a post-apocalyptic world, the audience may still be uncomfortable with the idea, especially on how it is depicted. Also, the ending is vague which left me asking questions rather than concluding on what might have happened to Salvi after.
I’ve learned that this was originally a short film and was given a grant to make it a full-length feature. This tends to stretch the plot thin. This Hiligaynon (a Visayan dialect) film has English subtitles for non-Visayan speaking audience to appreciate. Overall, this independent film deserves recognition for presenting a unique post-apocalyptic genre which Filipino mainstream film productions wouldn’t dare to tackle. Because of these reasons, I’m going to give this film 3 out of 5 stars.