June 12, 2020

Mabuhay! Of Film + Fiction

Happy Philippine Independence Day! As we've done every year since 2014, Rachel of Hello, Chelly & I are teaming up yet again to bring you Mabuhay! We take the opportunity every year to team up with Filipino authors, as well as highlight something we love about Pinoy culture. For 2020, we're each sharing our thoughts on a Pinoy film that you can watch on Netflix, along with an author Q&A. Don't forget to check out Rachel's post once you've read mine!

Also, I feel it's important to mention that, right now, there is a movement called #JunkTerrorBill inviting Pinoys to protest the passing of the Anti-Terrorism Bill in the Philippines. For more information on the proposed bill, why it shouldn't be passed, and how you can help, here's a link.

I've always enjoyed watching Pinoy films, especially the Cinema One productions (which were a big part of my formative years). I love seeing these clever, emotional tales brought to life onscreen, with cultural nuances that make them all the more relatable and entertaining. And even though they can occasionally be cheesy, sometimes, that's just what I want! Since I tend to gravitate mostly towards the romances, comedies and family dramas, and because I'd been wanting to watch this film since I first learned of it, I decided to watch Four Sisters and a Wedding

Four Sisters and a Wedding centers around the Salazar family: eldest sister Teddie who is working two jobs in Spain, Bobbie who is a successful communications manager in New York, Alex who is doing what she loves as an assistant director, youngest sister Gabbie who is a teacher that still lives at home and handles all the household duties, their mother and their baby brother CJ. When CJ drops the announcement that he's getting married n two weeks, all the sisters return home and team up to try to find a way to stop the wedding from pushing through.

I really enjoyed this film! Before I get on to what I did love about the movie, I will mention that there are certainly character stereotypes heavily used (especially at the start), as well as some judgmental language an behavior. But on the whole, it was a good movie. I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish, watching as these four sisters blundered their way through their attempts to prevent the wedding and eventually find themselves forced to face the secrets and feelings that they've keptt bottled up inside. I laughed a whole lot and got the warm fuzzies over the Pinoy family feels (especially in a family consisting mostly of sisters). I expected to get a little teary over the story (which generally happens when I watch most Pinoy films), but I actually ended up really bawling my eyes out over how true and relatable the familial dynamics were.   The combination of entertainment and emotional journey was just right, and I'm so glad I finally got the chance to watch this one! I'd definitely recommend checking it out while it's still on Netflix (and there are decent subtitles on it too, for my non-Filipino pals).

I'm so, so thrilled and honored to have debut author Janella Angeles on the blog today answering a couple of questions. I've had the pleasure of reading an early copy of Janella's upcoming debut YA fantasy Where Dreams Descend (which has Moulin Rouge and Phantom of the Opera as the comp titles), and it's brilliant and whimsical! Connect with Janella via her website, Twitter or Instagram.  You can also add Where Dreams Descend on Goodreads, and preorder it here if you live in the US, or here if you're elsewhere in the world. On to the Q&A!

What aspects of Filipino culture would you like to see more of in the books you read?
Our love of music, especially singing! Not only did I grow up in a musical household (Team Piano/Voice Lessons, right here), but some of my earliest memories were of watching TFC with my family & hearing so much karaoke singing across the shows. From contestants to show hosts to celebrities taking the stage, the talent is absolutely incredible & I love how often we take pride in our musical talents. It would be wonderful to read a book showcasing that!

As a Filipino-American, I would also just love to see more stories featuring characters who share that specific experience. Growing up surrounded by mainstream American pop culture, I never really had that Filipino character I felt truly seen in books or TV or any form of media. I clung to bits and pieces of characters because that's all I really could do (e.g. to me, Gabriella Montez from High School Musical was a Filipino-American musical queen both outside of the story and within it), but deep down, I always wanted more than just bits and pieces. And I'm so glad there's more, and more coming, for readers today.

3What book by a Filipino author would you recommend?
Earlier this year I finished the audiobook of The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly and it was such a wonderful, moving read. I'm a sucker for any stories about sisters, and Sol and Ming are absolutely the heart of this one. Lygia Day PeƱaflor's YA contemporary All of This is True and Rin Chupeco's epic Bone Witch fantasy trilogy are also super high on my TBR right now!


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