Saturday, February 28, 2009

WALANG HANGGANG PAALAM, circa 2001

An indie film entitled Walang Hanggang Paalam, written and directed by Paolo Villaluna and Ellen Ramos, and starring Lovi Poe, Joem Bascon, and Jacky Woo, was in the news early this month (February 2009) after it got an X rating from the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board on first review, reportedly because of a fellatio scene and an ejaculation shot in a gay love scene between actors Jake Roxas and Rico Barrera. The rating was changed to R-18 on second review, after the filmmakers revised or cut out the shots that the MTRCB objected to.

“Walang Hanggang Paalam” is also the title of one of the best-known songs of ethnic-folk-rock icon Joey Ayala, but I understand from Paolo Villaluna that the song was not used in the movie.

Anyway, the news about the indie film reminded me that I did a screenplay with the same title, Walang Hanggang Paalam, back in 2001. The script, meant for actress Maricel Soriano, was commissioned by director Joel Lamangan on behalf of GMA Films (or whatever it was called back then). It went through the usual writing stages—storyline, detailed sequence treatment, first-draft screenplay—and I had several meetings with Joel, his pre-production staff, and GMA-7’s Jimmy Duavit, but in the end, the project got shelved, for reasons that I can no longer remember. I don’t know if it will ever be made, but if it does, it will probably have to get another title.

Joey Ayala’s song is a crucial part of my Walang Hanggang Paalam screenplay, but not long after I finished the script, the song was used in the Marilou Diaz-Abaya film Bagong Buwan. When I told Joey about this, he sent me, as possible replacement, the lyrics of a song called “Pag-uwi,” which he had written for Louie Ocampo. I think the song won an award somewhere, but it never really became as popular as “Walang Hanggang Paalam.”

Here’s the storyline that I wrote, along with excerpts from the sequence treatment.



WALANG HANGGANG PAALAM

Storyline
by
Jose F. Lacaba


ENRIQUETA “ERIKA” TENORIO, a registered nurse in her mid-30s, has come home to the Philippines. This is her first visit to the country of her birth since she migrated to Canada 12 years ago. She’s home to attend the first anniversary of her father’s death, and at the same time to fetch her widowed mother who’s supposed to be going to Canada with Erika on the return trip.

The balikbayan’s visit to the hometown where she is still known as Quetang, or teased as Ketong, revives the usual nostalgic memories, especially since she’s invited to countless clan gatherings and class reunions and videoke get-togethers—where she gets to sing what used to be her favorite song, Joey Ayala’s “Walang Hanggang Paalam.” (Sample lyrics: “Ang pag-ibig natin ay walang hanggang paalam, / At kahit magkalayo, magkalapit pa rin ang puso.”)

At the same time, the visit rekindles sibling rivalries and filial hurts. The youngest of four children, the eldest of whom is a desaparecido, Erika finds herself entangled in the domestic problems of her surviving brother and sister and her assorted in-laws. In particular, she needs to sort out her relationship with her mother, ALING CARING, 69, a headstrong woman who owns an eatery, Caring’s Carinderia, and refuses persistent offers to convert it into a McDonald’s outlet.

Erika finds it difficult to explain to her mother why she couldn’t leave her job to take care of her father during his last bedridden years, or even just to come home for the funeral a year ago. After all, Erika was perceived to be her father’s favorite. On the other hand, in her relationship with her mother Erika has at times felt neglected and unwanted, the one who was born when Aling Caring no longer cared to have children. This is partly the reason why Erika has always tried to reach out to her mother.

Aling Caring has already been “petitioned” and granted a visa but has dilly-dallied about leaving the country. With her imminent departure, one grandson who lives with her suffers a nervous breakdown, and another turns violent and gets shot in a frat war. Both grandsons are the troubled children of the desaparecido, who was perceived by the other children to have been their mother’s favorite. As a result of her grandsons’ problems, Aling Caring begins to change her mind about moving to Canada. Erika sees this as additional evidence that her mother has always discriminated against her.

Accompanying Erika on this trip is her daughter AYA, 13, born in the Philippines but now thoroughly Canadian in manner and outlook. Feeling a need to reveal a painful truth she has managed to keep hidden from her daughter for years, Erika brings Aya to a nearby province to introduce her to a sister the young girl never knew she had. It turns out that Erika has a 16-year-old daughter from a premarital relationship. This other daughter is mentally retarded and being taken care of by a foster family, which receives financial support from the girl’s father.

The visit to the special child is traumatic for both Erika and Aya. Erika must confront her own feelings about being a mother, and in the process she learns to appreciate her own mother’s dilemmas and coping mechanisms. Aya, for her part, is so shocked she refuses to talk to Erika for several days. Things get a little bit complicated when the first daughter’s father, now a small-town politician, and still single, comes visiting and seems intent on reviving his friendship with Erika. Aya puts in a frantic long-distance call to her own father in Canada to apprise him of the situation, but he can’t take a sudden leave from his job.

In the end, things should get all sorted out without benefit of a miracle, and Aling Caring is persuaded to try life in Canada with Erika. We reveal in an epilogue that Aling Caring lasted two cold winters and then, bored with baby-sitting Canadian kids, decided to come home.

[END]
2001 July 4


EXCERPTS FROM THE SEQUENCE TREATMENT

9. EXT. BAHAY NI CARING. GABI.
Magpapaalam ang mga hindi tagarito: si Boni at ang kanyang pamilya, sina Jing at Diday. Ugaling Pilipino: walang-hanggan ang paalaman. Naghihintay na si Boni sa kotse: “Ba’t ba kung kailan pa uwian na at saka humahaba ang kuwentuhan?” Ang mga pamilya nina Rachel at Norie ay nakapisan kay Caring. Maiiwang nakaparada ang dyip sa garahe. Magkakasarilinan sina Erika at Caring. Erika: “Handang-handa na tayong pumunta sa Canada?” Tatango si Caring. Sa isang sulok ng garahe, mapapansin ni Erika ang isang kinakalawang nang pedicab. Mangingilid ang luha niya. Yayakapin siya ni Caring. Makikita sila ni Aya.

42. EXT. BAHAY SA SUBDIBISYON. ARAW.
Minsan pa, walang-hanggan ang paalaman. Rosita (kay Caring): “Buti ka pa, balae, makakarating ka ng Canada. Gusto sana naming makita man lang ang Niagara Falls, pero ngayon, hindi na puwede.” Mapapaiyak si Atty. Reyes.

48. EXT. BAHAY SA BULACAN. ARAW.
Nakaupo si Caring sa loob ng pedicab, kandong ang nahihimbing na si Ani. Ipapaliwanag niya kay Aya ang kahulugan ng pangalan nilang magkapatid: “Ani, harvest, pero ang talagang full name niya ay Halina, attractiveness. Ina ang dati niyang palayaw, binaligtad. Aya, kagandahan, pero ang full name mo ay Haraya, imagination. Lolo mo kasi, nationalistic. Siya’ng nagpangalan sa inyo.” Kay Mau: “Ang tatay mo naman, subersibo at fan ng Beatles, kaya ganyan ang mga pangalan ninyo. Si Len ay Juan Lenin, ikaw ay Pablo Mao.” Aya: “E sina Caissa?” Erika: “Caissa, goddess of chess. Alekhin at Botvinnik, mga sikat na chess players noong araw. Ang Tito Boni n’yo, naging chess champion ng Aguho. Elmyrah, pangalan yata ng Moro princess, hindi ko na maalala.” Aya: “Kaya pala kami puro wirdo, hindi kami binigyan ng mga normal na pangalan.” Mau: “Lahi tayo ng mga abno.”

49. EXT. BAHAY SA BULACAN. ARAW. (TIME LAPSE)
Oras na para umuwi. Muli, hindi matapos-tapos ang paalaman. Mangiyak-ngiyak na yayapusin ni Erika si Ani, pero kakalas ang dalagita at tatakbo kay Caring. Kukunin ni Marta ang umiiyak na si Ani. Magyaya si Django sa dinner: “Paunahin n’yo na si Jing. Sa akin na kayo sumabay, air-con ang van ko.”

69. INT. BAHAY NI GRACE. GABI.
Reunion ng high school class ni Erika. Ang tawag ng mga dating kaklase kay Erika ay E.T.--initials ng Erika Tenorio. Si Aya lang ang bisitang bata, pero may halos kaedad siya sa mga anak ni Grace. Kaunting ballroom dancing, kaunting kantahan. May gitara si Grace, at hihimukin niya si Erika na magduweto sila sa isang lumang kantang paborito nila noong araw, ang “Walang-Hanggang Paalam” ni Joey Ayala: “Ang pag-ibig natin ay walang-hanggang paalam/At habang magkalayo, papalapit pa rin ang puso./Kahit na magkahiwalay, tayo ay magkasama/Sa magkabilang dulo ng mundo.”

70. EXT. BAHAY NI GRACE. GABI.
Hindi na naman matapos-matapos ang mga paalam. Ngayon pa maiisipan ni Grace na magkukuwento tungkol sa mga nakakatawa niyang karanasan nang magtrabaho siya bilang domestic sa Singapore.

96. EXT. BAHAY NI CARING. GABI.
Magpapaalam si Jerry kay Caring: “Pa’no, Nay, sa Canada na uli tayo magkikita?” Caring: “Ano ka, sinusuwerte?” Pero nakangiti si Erika: “Sa Canada na ang susunod na birthday ng Nanay.” Jerry (pabiro): “Nay, sa Canada kayo magsi-sixty-nine? Sarap naman.” Naghihintay sa kotse si Boni, na siyang maghahatid. Bubusina siya. “Bayaw, baka maiwan ka ng eroplano. Tama na ang mga walang-hanggang paalam.”

1 comment:

Andeng Arce said...

hi po sir pete! napanood ko po kayo noong Feb. 24 sa TV5 sa documentary na "IMELDA"... heheh... kailan po kayo ulit uuwi dito sa Pateros? wala po talaga akong mahanap na libro nyo... tumingin po kasi ako sa NBS sa SM Megamall at sa Market Market kasi doon lang po ang kaya kong puntahan sa ngayon (wala na po kasing budget eh.. hehe)... baka matagalan pa po siguro bago ako makapag-ipon ulit para makapunta sa UP.. ano-ano po ba ang mga aklat nyo na nasa UP pa? may nagsabi po sa akin na ang iba out of stock na daw.. nabasa ko nga po pala ung iba nyong tula sa ibang libro.. may nabasa rin po ako na tula ng kapatid nyo na si G. Eman Lacaba ung "Open Letter to the Filipino Artists".. nabanggit nyo dun sa open forum na isa sa mga idolo nyo ay si G. Bienvenido Lumbrera.. nakabili po ako ng isang libro nya..(actually nag-iisa na lang po sa bookstore) ung POETIKA/POLITIKA.. nandun po ung tula ni G.Eman pati po yung Sagot sa Sulat ni Eman... talaga po palang pamilya kayo ng mga manunulat... saludo po ako sa inyo kasi hindi po kayo natakot na isulat ang katotohanan sa mga panahong pinapaslang ang mga gumagawa no'n.. lagi po akong magbabasa ng mga tula nyo dito sa blog nyo habang hindi pa po ako nakakabili ng libro nyo (EDAD MEDYA).. sayang at hindi ko pa po mahiram ung idinonate nyo na libro sa school namin... madami pa po kasing nakapila.. heheh.. cge po.. GOD BLESS at MORE POWER!:-D