Tales of the Septic Tank

Aug 4, 2011 by

Because I like it when a work of art is done to slap people on the face to awaken the masses from media hypnosis, Ang Babae sa Septic Tank (The Woman in the Septic Tank) deserves an Oscar. At least for humanitarian purposes. I watched it on a spontaneous basis because I had a few hours of free time today after a sumptuous birthday lunch with my dear, dear friend Pauline. My brain was tickled by the movie in such a way that I can say, I had a wonderful time.

Here’s the movie synopsis taken from the official website of Cinemalaya (www.cinemalaya.org):

Ang Babae sa Septic Tank chronicles a day in the life of three ambitious, passionate but misguided filmmakers as they set out to do a quick pre-prod at Starbucks, a courtesy call to their lead actress, Eugene Domingo, and an ocular inspection of their film’s major location, the Payatas dumpsite. Director Rainier, Producer Bingbong and Production Assistant Jocelyn are well-to-do, well-educated film school graduates who are dead set on making an Oscar worthy film. They believe they have a winning script, the energy and the drive to make their dreams come true. Like most filmmakers they know, they have devised a screenplay that will show the real essence of our culture: poverty. In the course of one day, they brainstorm and exhaust all possible treatment of their project: the story of Mila (Eugene Domingo), a mother from the slums, who out of desperation to survive, has sold her child to a pedophile. As they discuss the possible executions of the story, the movie-within-a-movie gets reborn in Jocelyn’s imagination several times. As a gritty no frills neo-realist film, as a glossy musical, as an over-the-top melodrama and as a docu drama using non-actors. For their last task of the day, they visit the dumpsite for the first time. As filmmakers gunning for authenticity, they get excited with the ”beauty” of the squalor around them. Soon enough, they are faced with reality as they come face to face with the real effects of their chosen subject. Babae sa Septic Tank is a comedy about misguided ambitions, the art of making art and the romanticization of poverty.

The movie deserves the trophy for Best Picture, Best Director (Marlon Rivera) in the “New Breed Full Length Feature” category, Best Screenplay (Chris Martinez), the Audience Choice Award and the Best Actress Award (Eugene Domingo).

The snippets of the film’s subplots are metaphors of the war between art and commercialism, the battle of the conventional and the risque. Everyone who has had a taste of being in the industry would find the film representative of our realities, while the outsiders would find it merely entertaining — probably a bit interesting. It’s pretty much a depiction of how the cinema industry suck-up the life of a greenhorn artist whose vision is to tell a story as close to the truth as possible. Apparently, the visions of a beginner and a veteran don’t often coincide.

Eugene Domingo’s performance is absolutely versatile; It reaches a really high point of comedy without a trace of struggle or an ounce of begging for audience’s laughter; It explores the depths of all sorts of possible attacks to acting and how directors and producers manipulate a performance; it makes us see what a bunch of dummies actors are and how powerful the people behind the camera can be. Eugene is an acting treasure.

The two other lead actors, JM De Guzman (as the Producer), Kean Cipriano (as the Director) were extremely fantastic in their respective performances. Believability: check. Dialogue temper and intensity: check. Physical control: check. Very, very good acting: check. The two of them may be fancy faces (poster boys, to be honest), but heck, these kids can act!!!

You are out of your mind if you do not prioritize watching this movie. If you hate how Star Cinema makes movies (damn f*cking glossy make ups, glamour shots, annoying musical score and melodramatic approaches to acting), then watch Ang Babae sa Septic Tank to find a very good ally in your quest to boo commercial movie making that’s good for nothing but endorsements of products we don’t even need.

I like it when a work of art is done to slap people on the face to awaken the masses from media hypnosis. Ang Babae sa Septic Tank is my new alter-ego.

Congratulations to the cast and prod team of the film. You guys truly deserve an Oscar. Or something from Europe at least.

Watch this trailer if you’re not convinced enough:


  1. RamirJM

    Fast ang blog entry bah! You found your muse in Eugene Domingo? Hehe! I was expecting a scene that is worst than that in “Slumdog Millionaire”. Remember the boy holding his idol’s pic up high protecting it from sh_t? Nami pa gid tani. LOL!

  2. ivy

    I’m convinced!

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