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A Mother's Story: Pokwang as the Modern Pinay Heroine
Pokwang’s latest film is "possibly her best work ever," says our SPOT.ph blogger.
By: Ria Limjap  |   Published on: Jan 10, 2012 - 5:20pm

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(SPOT.ph) Iíve always kind of liked Pokwang, although I cannot tell you why. In any case, I went to see her new movie A Motherís Story on opening day because I was looking forward to forgetting all about the recently concluded Metro Manila Film Festivalóafter all the in-fighting and the righteous mudslinging, the bad acting, and the random ďkutis gandaĒ awards. I felt that I was starting the year right by supporting my favorite acting comedienne in her first really big role as an OFW who leaves her family to work as an illegal alien in California. Successfully screened in North America, Europe and (possibly) the Middle East for the balikbayan/OFW market, A Motherís Story has been released in the Philippines by ABS-CBN. Produced by The Filipino Channel, ABS-CBNís global arm, A Motherís Story is done in the great tradition of heavy handed Pinoy melodrama (that is, iyakan galore and yes even a sampalan scene)óbut highlights the OFW experience in a way thatís full of heart.

Medy Santos (Pokwang) is a makeup artist who works hard to feed her kids and support her
semi-useless gambling husband Jerry (Nonie Buencamino). An opportunity brings her to the U.S. where she bumps into her old friend Helen (Beth Tamayo) who convinces her to stay in the U.S. and find work so she can send money home to the family. Medy, torn by love and necessity, decides to stay as an illegal alien in California where she ends up as a domestic helper for uppity white people (BMW-driving lawyers, go figure) who basically start out nice then eventually treat her like shit. After seven years of working abroad, Medy comes home to her aging mother Choleng (Daria Ramirez in fine form), only to find her son King (Rayver Cruz) angry and resentful and her husband spending his nights away from home. Only daughter Queenie (Xyriel Manabat) loves her poor momma with a childís uncomplicated acceptance of why things are the way they are.

Watch the trailer

I must warn you, in the entire second half of this movie everyone is crying on screen. There will be criers in the audience too, so bring your tissues. Strangely enough I sat dry-eyed throughout, possibly too distracted by the omnipresent and unfortunately cheesy film score. (Although I must admit, I was bawling during the trailer which I had seen last December.) A Motherís Story is a tear jerker extraordinaire but real poignancy can be found in the relatively smaller moments: Pokwang hugs a Snowman in the basement storage room where she sleeps, the tear that falls from Rayverís eyes as he packs a balikbayan box with his mom, the look on her face as she hands her husband the annulment papers and walks away without making a scene. While this movie suffers from sloppy filmmaking (not a single decent transition, weird sound, and people in the background waving at the camera)óthe story, written by Senedy Que, is both real and relevant. This is only one in millions of other stories about mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who all have to leave so that their loved ones left behind can have a chance at a better life.

Fortunately for Pokwang, this is the role of a lifetime and possibly her best work ever. Her kind of dramatic acting isnít mannered and over-the-top; Pokwang is a natural because she knows instinctively about good timing. Ever the comedian, she can hide pain behind humor but manages to tap into her own personal tragedy for this role. Working as an OFW before her foray into showbiz, Pokwang had to leave behind a young child who died while she was working in Abu Dhabi. She couldnít come home when she lost her son and her marriage dissolved. Who knew that one day Pokwang, Marietta Subong in real life, would make a movie that mirrored her personal journeyóand laugh all the way to the bank. In the end, she wins.

BTS video of A Mother's Story

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8 Comments
  • Shiela
    Sad but it was a copycat of the movie 'Anak' of Vilma Santos... where of course there was better execution in all aspects acting wise, cinematography etc. in the movie Anak.

    Considering Pokwang is an excellent comedian, but is also stereotyped as such, the writer should have designed a better twist to the movie.

    Lastly ... OFWs experience different dramas in life ... a different angle to Milan, Anak and the like should have been taken.
    Feb 01 2012 @ 12:20pm     Reply  
  • Shiela
    I didn't feel any pity for the character Pokwang played sleeping in the store room. There is nothing more pathetic than 14 Filipinos living in one small room in Dubai, sharing one restroom, husband and wife in a bank bed with a single on top.
    Feb 01 2012 @ 12:12pm     Reply  
  • eka v
    To be honest, at first I didn't want to watch this because it might be too cheesy or too boring, BUT NO! It's really heartwarming. I had to put out some tissue in my bag to wipe my tears because Pokwang knows how to tickle our funnybone yet we still cry because we can also feel her agony and struggle just to become a good provider for her family.. I love her, she's a natural comedian and actress.
    Jan 16 2012 @ 09:32pm     Reply  
  • Genuine
    This movie can really put the hurt in you because for obvious reasons, many Pinoy families can relate to this film. Even my mum is a former OFW. But if the film is good, then it's good.
    Jan 12 2012 @ 12:09am     Reply  
  • nooni
    clickthecity.com gave this movie a 3/5 stars, way better than most of the MMFF entries. and same as this article, he said that Pokwang was the main force of the movie. i am not a fan, but i might consider watching this after the above reviews it got.
    Jan 11 2012 @ 05:10pm     Reply  
  • disappointed pinay
    But see, nice write ups like this one sort of sugar-coat the real problem in many Pinoy films -- some elements like the acting, concept and writing may be laudable, but the execution still needs a lot of work. I really like Pokwang as well and am happy that she has an opportunity like this one to share with us her talents, but if a film with so much potential falls short (whether in terms of its production value, execution, script, acting etc), it's difficult to support. Better to say it straight up. Otherwise, the producers will keep on believing they're doing a good job.
    Jan 11 2012 @ 02:27pm     Reply  
  • Uma
    Wow, beautifully written, Ms Limjap. You made me want to see this.
    Jan 11 2012 @ 09:42am     Reply  
  • Janette
    Wow. Now I'm thinking of watching this...
    Jan 11 2012 @ 09:37am     Reply  
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