Myths are products of human imagination in desperate need for a story to believe when the real world fell short of expectations. Manggagarab is a slice of that make-believe world where an ordinary man is placed in extraordinary circumstances that weaved three interconnected characters together – the hero, his love, and the myth.
The movie opened with shots of a misty green forest, a pregnant woman running, angry dark clouds and the surroundings that looked foreboding, but the monster is slightly hidden from the audience. The horror of the faceless adversary and the raw beauty of nature are breathtaking.
The next scenes then followed the hero played by, the director, Kyle Fermindoza whose bravery can be felt beyond the frames, and beyond the sickle-wielding manggagama (bamboo gatherer) to which the whole story was centered, and to which the myth points to. He was shown as a father toiling in the mountains to provide for her daughter. On one scene, the father and daughter are shown riding a balsa(bamboo raft) and waded the calm water of a river in San Joaquin. It defined how peaceful their life is despite the hardships. Until a tragedy caused by evil mythical beings happened which caused the hero to resort to a secret he has kept.
The same secret is the resolution that the audience somehow waited for. The unveiling is nothing short of magical despite it’s realness. The manggagarab leaped from the top of a falls into the depth of the river as if drowning in grief, pulling his weapon from the riverbed where it laid hidden for years, and then he rose reborn as a hero. A poetic scene well crafted by the director and his cinematographer, Oyen Rodriquez. The sickle became not just his weapon but the symbol of his fearlessness, hope, and vindication. In the end, he is faced with something he loves, that he eventually chose to overcome.
This film sliced through the imagination, the myth is original, yet the characters and the setting felt familiar. Maggagarab is not just another tale of the chosen one, but also a beautiful tragedy made even more enchanting by its cinematography, persuasive acting, and poetic direction, to the point that it transcended the myth and make the character’s pain, all too real.