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In Case They Don’t Arrive – A MediaConnex Film Review

An homage to the Philippine islands as portrayed in film. 

Ice Idanan’s first full feature film, Sakaling Hindi Makarating (In Case They Don’t Arrive), premiered during CineFilipino’s 2016 run, and now set to show in Manila theatres beginning today, February 1, is a quiet, beautifully shot film that takes us to some of the most picturesque spots in the archipelago. It closes as it opens, providing the viewer with neat bookends to a tale of searching, loving, and ultimately, of learning to let go – themes we can all relate to.

Idanan calls it her love letter to the Philippines and one slowly understands what she means to convey as we follow the protagonist, Cielo, played by Alessandra de Rossi, around the islands in her quest to discover the identity of a certain ‘M’ who regularly sends personalized postcards to her apartment in Quezon city.

The well-framed shots, a nod to the director’s background as a cinematographer, and the featured towns allow the audience a new perspective with which to view the country from. We visit the untamed and sparse beauty of Batanes, the charming side of Siquijor, ride through a small town in Marinduque, watch the Vintas race in Zamboanga, and sit on a deserted beach in Pagudpud.

One can be forgiven for wondering how Cielo could not have known that the handwriting – and the art – on the postcards were not penned by the same man she had spent eleven years of her life with. Despite this little hiccup, we come to understand that the theme of letting go applies not only to our lead, but to the characters of Paul (Pepe Herrera), the charming Manuel (Miguel Santos), young Sol (Therese Malvar), and even to single mother and lodge owner, Mila (Lesley Lina).

When not traipsing around the islands making new friends and learning new skills, de Rossi’s character takes the time to sketch and write back to update smitten neighbor, Paul, of her progress by dispatching her own set of artful postcards.

De Rossi and Herrera make for good odd-couple cinema, with Pepe’s slightly awkward boy-next-door demeanor working well with Alessandra’s high-strung, nicotine dependent character. It is a pity their scenes together are limited by the storyline.

A little over halfway through the film, our point of view is shifted to a mother and daughter, played by Lesley Lina and Therese Malvar, respectively, living in and running a charming lodge in Batanes. Here, some of our niggling questions are answered, and we eventually reach the conclusion of our tale – back at the rugged, windswept precipice where we first encounter our lead actress.

We leave Cielo at the cliff, only now, we are rewarded with her finally coming to terms with her past and literally leaving it where it belongs.

 

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Sher thinks she may have been a cat in a former life. She keeps her sanity by writing, watching films, and indoor climbing. When time and money permit, she packs a bag and her laptop for the next town on her bucket list.

sher@mediaconnex.asia

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