May 04
LAGUSAN – THE TUNNEL OF RIDDLES by Alex J. Socorro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Wed, May 4, 2005

(There is a visible trend in the local film world of feature length movies being shot with video cameras, instead of the mainstream 35 mm negatives. The FAP views such development as a needed shot in the arm of the ailing film industry. Under a Film Development Commission program, ten directors are in the process of putting the finishing touches on their video films. Several mall theaters have already exhibited video films, as well as the Film Center of UP. These developments augur well for this new genre. Following is a review of one such film which is directed by Gina Marissa Tagasa, a member of the Screenwriters’ Guild of the Philippines—JNC)

Another poignant story by award-winning scriptwriter and director Gina Tagasa, Ang Lagusan bespeaks of a riddle with no exact answer. The film was neatly crafted to project a positive message of repentance and transformation amid the web of conflicts and confusions.

Ang Lagusan is actually an invisible tunnel that enables one to be transported into a different timeline. Cris, as the involuntary time traveler, suddenly wakes up to find that he had lost his most precious possession, that of his memory. A faded photograph of a young girl was left in his belongings as the only possible clue to his real identity.

And in the process of trying to solve the enigma, more mysteries are unravelled as if to add spite to his already confused mind. He encounters different personas like a suicidal prostitute, a drug pusher, a con artist, a cancer-afflicted rich boy and a pregnant teenage girl. The aura emanating from those lowly people greatly affects him such that he turns back to God for succor.

In his moment of transformation, he again meets those mysterious personas in a different context. And to confirm his changed personality, he resolves to fulfill his vow of accepting whatever life he had. Eventually, he finds out that his lost life was a sorry mess. But unlike before, he now has the determination to rebuild his life.

Riddled with real-life riddles, Ang Lagusan is a visual testimony that God works in mysterious ways. And after watching the film, the audience may have the tendency to search for the mysterious tunnel which is actually inside our hearts.

Ang Lagusan stars Alfred Vargas and Cris Villanueva with writer/director Gina Marissa Tagasa

“Nahirapan ako, hindi sa shooting kundi sa editing,” Gina Tagasa mused with pride. She said they had to take out some scenes that didn’t suit the taste buds of Mr. Jae Jung Jang, the Korean producer. Since the story is centered on a mystery, Gina had to check and double check to make sure that the flow of the story is clear enough to be understood by the viewers. “Medyo masalimuot kasi ang kuwento saka ang daming events,” she added, “Pero hindi naman talagang nakakaiyak, touching lang kung baga.”

Ang Lagusan is the second film to be released by White Windows Productions of Mr. Jae Jung Jang. “This is our way of helping the Philippine movie industry,” said the amiable Korean producer who has been living in the country for 20 years. Despite being an independent producer with meager funds, Mr. Jang promised to come up with sensible films from time to time so as to provide employment to the movie industry people.

White Windows is the same outfit that produced Sa Kandungan Ng Langit , a digital film which was an entry to the 2004 New York International Independent Film and Video Festival. Aside from being nominated to the CMMA last year, that first project of Gina Tagasa with White Windows brought home the “Best Drama in Feature Film” in the said international festival. Retitled Heaven’s Cradle , Sa Kandungan Ng Langit is available in VCD and DVD versions with English subtitles.

Set to premiere on May 10 at SM Megamall Cinema 1, Ang Lagusan is another digital film to be exclusively shown in SM theaters. It stars Alfred Vargas, Gina Pareño and Cris Villanueva in the lead roles with support from Richard Reynoso, Eliza Pineda, Alcris Galura, Bryan Homecillo, Edwin Reyes, CJ Mercado and Dido Delapaz.