A solar eclipse descends on Cupang. The heavens have yet to completely blacken, and already several of the more backward barrio locals begin to kiss civilization goodbye. One person’s Armageddon is another person’s cottage industry, which is precisely what the town emerges as after Elsa (Nora Aunor) envisions in the darkness the Virgin Mother at the foot of a petrified tree. In jig-time, believers from miles around gather to make it a tourist hotspot, the Lourdes of the Philippines. It was a different world when Himalaheld its premier some 37 years ago. The message weathers the test of time, but not so the markedly quaint special effects used to vivify the sudden burst of violence required to ring down the curtain. Thoughts of Billy Wilder’s satiric assailment Ace in the Hole or the countless “miracles” brought to light in the collected works of Don Luis Bunuel are unavoidable. A strolling character who breaks into a chorus of “Mr. Blue” is about as absurd as it gets in writer Ricardo Lee and director Ishmael Bernal otherwise long-faced, yet very-watchable mounting.
Length: 2 hours, 4 minutes