John Raphael T.

Almanza
IV-BS Life Sciences

The coming of age of evil: a back-to-back commentary on
Janice O'Hara and Denise O'Hara’s “Sundalong Kanin” and
Joel Lamangan’s “Hustisya”
“War makes monsters of men”- Patrick Ness
The two movies, Janice O'Hara and Denise O'Hara’s “Sundalong
Kanin” and Joel Lamangan’s “Hustisya”, with its excellent
cinematography and directing was successful in delivering its
astounding message towards the ground of people’s actions in the
face of extreme pressure brought about by war, poverty and the
undying zeal to make even with the harsh reality of the world. The
general theme common to both movies was the weakness the
characters had for not succumbing to vengeful acts of killing. Both
had their main protagonist either getting killed or killing at the end
of the movies. And even though both films happened at distant and
different points in time—one at the time of Japanese occupation and
the other at the time being—the message both presents to its
viewers regarding social injustice contributing to a weak
conscience (or a weak disposition to goodness) is more than
evident.
“Sundalong Kanin”
This movie was effective in depicting the strife and struggle of
Filipinos during the Japanese occupation and invasion. The change
in the community due to the coming of the Japanese force was,
basically, the turning point in the lives of the people in the area and
most importantly in the life of the children, our main characters,
there. This is a coming of age story and essentially a coming into
terms with reality. As the characters overcome and later on
surrender in the face of war, it is proven that war makes monsters
of men and that in the hope of rebuilding a society comes a natural
divide in the forces and sectors it abides by its scope and territory.
All throughout the story, it has been all about personal anguish over
that of the community; such that, war can never be made too
personal, because it always is.
In this review, we will highlight five main subplots in the story that
have played a big role in the development of the plot. These are: a)
Tiyago’s power trip, b) Phillipine societal divide creating the
indeterminate enemy, c) Rape and indignation of comfort women, d)
Bestfriends becoming enemies and their eventual bloodbath.

Tiyago was assigned to be the puppet of the newly established leadership. it was also hard to distinguish who the real enemy was.The movie started with two groups of innocent children playing “tirador”. and this instigated fear and a sense of divide among them. he shot and killed the incumbent Mayor in the original attempt of putting him into trial amongst the town people and accusing him of committing murder to a Japanese soldier sleeping near the town river. Having worked for a Japanese family and learning their language. a deterrent in achieving unity and eventual peace in the community. Tiyago still adhered with his promise of revenge. It turned a gruelling twist when the Mayor suddenly popped into the house of Tiyago and pointed a gun in his son’s mouth by just defeating his son (a part of the other competing group) in the said child’s play. it is. non-debatable that the community was composed of people with different characters. In the far end. one is opened with the deeper disparity between them that roots from the relationships of their families with each other. however. missing Filipinas etc. Tiyago (Marc Abaya) was the father of one of the boys and had been mistreated over the years by the Mayor of the town. Though their motivations may not be limited to one. This is where it was sufficiently evident that even in the face of a common foreign enemy. “Phillipine societal divide creating the indeterminate enemy”. After this event that terrified both Tiyago and the whole of his immediate community. They were seen as the traitors of the people at that time. nevertheless. he took oath in revenging the dignity of his son and family. He even forced the Mayor’s family to go hungry by taking their supply of rice. that accused non-accordingly guilty and non-guilty Filipinos for committing a sin against the ruling army. Filipinos were doubtful and suspicious of fellow Filipinos. Some of them stood by where the utmost power lied. It is. in their actions and inclinations. This leads us to our second point. At first it would have been guessed that it was just a simple game between the two. affiliations and et cetera. even though he was proven innocent. He took his liberty and abused his power by using it in accordance with his personal agenda. a group of men masked with “bayong” in their heads. This foreshadowing of events has actualized when the Japanese force entered their town and when the Mayor and Tiyago switched roles in the society. This certain event in the movie is most striking especially recalling the days of the Makapili. countless scenes were provided where Tiyago would abuse the Mayor and make him look like a weeping boy. which is obviously on the side of . As the struggles hardened (curfew. While serving the colonizing army.). As the movie goes on.

the leader was shocked to having the child being believed of the action in the first place. have also been sentenced. he was freed and was given a reward for being courageous. the girl love interested of the main child protagonist was kidnapped and raped by Japanese soldiers in the river which he and his friends actually witnessed. As we have heard stories of comfort women before. In the movie. This stirred anger from him in which at the sight of a sleeping soldier behind the river. Take in the case of the case of the post-war era of the Philippines during the reign of Quezon. To spare the faith of his father. he was recommended to keep silent and act innocently. nonetheless. This was made worse by America’s passiveness to the needs of the bewildered Filipinos. Others. he was swallowed by anguish and eventually committed homicide. it was not easy and rebuilding the society then afterwards is even more difficult. The Philippine Government failed to launch an effective postwar relief and rehabilitation program due to lack of funds and the dilatory attitudes of some officials in the Philippine Legislature. either everyone abided by the Japanese orders or if everyone decided to become actively participative in competing.” (Jose 2006) The third point is the “Rape and indignation of comfort women”. the boy’s little brother owned up to his bigger brother’s action. including his father and the Mayor (which is actually his friend’s father. Because considered very young and innocent. This significant part had spurred the Japanese army to come hunting for the criminal which then led to the event said infra regarding Makapili. Eventually. we can say that this significant theme have played a big part in the shaping of our history. stood firmly with their identity of being free as a nation. he was excluded in the watchful eyes of the army. At the sight of the Japanese leader in the way this little child behaved (he cannot even lift a riffle). the plot of the movie was also ambitious in depicting this hurtful part of our history. But things got especially eventful when a lot of men in the village. Though we could only guess what could have happened if there was no division. then. true that whatever way we were able to reach freedom. . “The Japanese occupation of the Philippines and the subsequent liberation of the Philippines brought havoc and destruction to the young Filipino nation…The problem of relief and rehabilitation were the important issued that confronted both the Philippine and American Governments. As per his friends. It is.the Japanese.

and the American embargo compelled Japan to take this course. In turn. trade protection. the son of the mayor and the one that was just mentioned) betrayed the others by helping Tiyago find the quarters of the guerrilla (which two of the boys had a brother in) leading to their defeat. it opened up a different view we had for our exterminators. the death of Tiyago . Lastly and probably the most important point. a land they previously owned (Asia for educators 2009).” (Asia for educators 2009) The Japanese had their own political agenda of providing a better life for its inhabitants especially in terms of trade. The said leader have seen this and prompted the immediate death of the girl to stop its misery. The killing of the mayor motivated one of the son to kill Tiyago. This was the central plot of the story when one of the boy in their original group (they were originally four composed of the one who killed the soldier. they could have a rational reason and purpose for their very strict actions. This restricted Japan’s growth and they were also pressured by the strong resistance of the Soviet Union and China in Manchuria. where the US and other western countries were overpowering and influencing a great part of Asia. it would be too much to say that colonialism. “While it seems that economic factors were important in Japanese expansion in East Asia. This action of one of the member was spurred by yet another personal story of revenge. He chose the former and had to deal with his friends literal spearheads to his heart. who had seemed to fairly moved on the situation. In here we see that war did not just come from mere lust for blood and suffering but was preceded and pushed by factors that deemed very hard to be solved. or helping them fight against the ruling army. that if we could only see beyond our own suffering.Going back to the life of the kidnapped girl. considering they did not have a rich land for resources. it was showed that a long line of Japanese soldiers were waiting to relish her innocence. The murder of the child motivated Tiyago to kill the rest the 3 children. His mother was raped by a group of guerrillas and was forced to make a decision of avenging her mother. “Bestfriends becoming enemies”. his little brother. Although this part was dramatically presented. This also widens our perspective that they are not entirely destroying in many levels. This is when brutal killing and actual bloodbath occured.

What really set it apart from other similar movies was Nora Aunor’s acting and her over portrayal of the evil in the city. herself. This clearly shows that in the face of war. at first hand very much involved and hands on in the whole illegal trade. it is not entirely an issue of fighting and winning it. breadwinner. “Hustisya” Set in the modern era. basically. nonetheless. This is in disparity to her indifference to what she really sees in hersurrounding. friend et cetera (in the person of Biring) that undergoes in the face of an internal war between the conduct of right and the giving into sin. This is why even though she recognizes the wrongs of her action. This had made her life miserable. But as events turn to a very sad twist. evident that the culture in the film revolved around individualistic tendencies and pursuits that did nothing in incapacitating the deliberating effects of war. As prominent in a lot of independent films. she was tasked to personally bring prostitutes to their clients and the like. Her necessities and responsibility to her family overpowers. illegal drugs. her conscience. It was. she was framed by her boss for having killed her husband because of cheating. nonetheless. Biring (Nora Aunor) was forced by socioeconomic status and strong influence of syndicates to make a dramatic transformation from being a victim to being a victimizer. The killing did not stop until only the little brother lived. she would throw money from the top of the manila city hall in the hopes of redeeming herself. Herein we are made hopeful to the possibility of change for the life of Biring. human trafficking. As penance. Personal issues also and even conquers this supposed-to-be this graver issue. she still continued to blindly perform her sinful duties. Biring was presented to be religious and even had a priest as a friend. it showed the hardships of Filipinos in the slums of Manila vis-à-vis depressing poverty. Being a middleman of her Boss (Rosanna Roces). It was strongly emphasized in this part the injustice that was done to Biring considering that she was already demarcated from society . At the start of the movie.lead to Tiyago’s son killing his father’s murderer. It was. corruption and the like. very successful in delivering its central theme of the dynamic change in the life of a mother. She was sentenced to prison where her life really started to turn its path to greater demise. however. She was. She was also inclined of mentioning and asking for God’s presence most of the time.

This shows a lot regarding the justice system in the country has. she eventually become their crook and learned the nitty gritty of the world of the syndicates.and belittled by life. It identifies as including “command irresponsibility”. It is as if she had found her long yearned revenge over her old boss. The ultimate twist in the character change of Nora comes in the end when Sussana Roces was shot in broad daylight and instead of feeling sorry. and the irregularities in investigation and prosecution. Biring experienced extreme discrimination and maltreatment from her fellow inmates owing up to her Lawyer and her old Bosses pushing her to take the place of Sussana Roces. teeming with rich characters of different motivations. “Corruption is a central issue in facilitating and continuing human trafficking in the Philippines. the demeaning social construct stems from imperialists players in the society that exists to flourish corruption. In here we are presented that out of pressure and social constraint. This is not particularly true in the case of Biring only. Nora actually found it very amusing for her. Nora accidentally and/or intentionally killed a journalist that she once talked with regarding the expose of the syndicate but she decided later on not to do it. It was very evident in the movie. Ultimately. The Journalist resisted and so a crime of passion was committed. to get by and to come in terms with reality. After being bailed by these people. “The ALRC report analyses why the criminal justice system in the Philippines fails to function. that all of them just wanted to live life happily. It demonstrates that if human trafficking is to be . In the next few events. Scenes of protesters were shown where Nora would just listen and dare to look. the nonexistent witness protection programme. having been falsely accused is another dagger to her suffering.” (Asian Human Rights Commission 2007) Inside the prison. roots and the like. the morale and values that was holding her back before have been now bent so much that it ceases to even exists in her memory. the bias of state officers towards victims and their families. as what presented. Biring then started to have a change in here character profile then on as metaphorically presented by a scene in the movie showing clouds swallowing a moon.

Guth.” joseangelito-angeles. the way that they think. “The criminal justice system of the Philippines is rotten”. Japan's Quest for Power and World War II in Asia. Issue 2-3(2010):147-166. as ironic as it may get.htm. http://www.htm.org/mainfile.com/post_war.1007%2Fs12117-009-90820.php/0601/266/.springer. They are on their fight to get what they rightfully deserve—revenge for Nora. nonetheless. “The post war relief. Last modified April 2006. act and behave is similar and. Andrew.easia.com. http://link. In conclusion. money and wealth for Sussana etc. However.tripod. no one actually got justice in the end and this was basically due to the conditions that governed the actions of the characters were of great expense for the others. Last modified 2009. Asia for Educators. References: Jose. then corruption must be curbed. Asian Legal Resource Center. “Human trafficking in the Philippines: the need for an effective anticorruption program”. it could be said that though both films presented the lives of Filipinos in two distant eras. . http://joseangelitoangeles. http://afe. Last modified 2007.columbia.com/article/10. determined by their ability to stay firm in the face of war—be it political or internal. all of the characters sought justice in a community that. “The World at War: 1931-1945”. Asian Human Rights Commisision.” (Guth 2009) As what we can get from the title.edu/special/japan_1900_power.article2.significantly reduced. rehabilitation & Reconstruction of the Philippines. Trends in organized crime 19. Ricardo.tripod. promotes injustice. essentially.