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Film / Himala

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"Walang himala! Ang himala ay nasa puso ng tao, nasa puso nating lahat! Tayo ang gumagawa ng mga himala! Tayo ang gumagawa ng mga sumpa at ng mga diyos...""
("There are no miracles! Miracles are in people's hearts, in all our hearts! We are the ones who make miracles! We are the ones who make curses, and gods...")
Elsa (in the most iconic scene of the movie)

Himala ("Miracle") is a 1982 Filipino film, starring Nora Aunor. Himala is the story of Elsa, a barrio lass whose visions of the Virgin Mary change her life and cause a sensation hysteria in a poor, isolated northern village in the midst of drought. The film is centred on the issues of religious faith and faithlessness, morality, and truth. Elsa, in her speech on the hill, delivered the film's (and Aunor's) most famous line, which is quoted above.

Himala became a box-office hit, earning an impressive 30 million pesos, becoming one of the highest grossing Filipino films in the 1980s.


The following tropes include:

  • Ambiguous Gender: Aling Pising's child, simply because of the subtitles referring to both genders. The English subs mostly referred to the child as "child" but in one scene, referred to it as "son" while the Japanese repeatedly referred to the child as "娘 (musume)" which means daughter.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: When the rain finally came to the town, taking it as a sign that the miracle has returned and they gladly thank Elsa.
    • Mrs. Alba cites Elsa's pregnancy as an "Immaculate Conception" (she actually means a Virgin birth) and thus sees it as a first sign of the miracle coming back. Elsa was actually showing signs of pregnancy from the rape.
  • Arc Words: "ELSA LOVES YOU"
  • Based on a True Story: An incident between 1966-1967 about a teenage girl and the alleged Marian apparition.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Meta-example: The subtitles in the film have both English and Japanese.
  • Bystander Effect: A tragic case. Orly the director does nothing to help both Elsa and Chayong being raped by two drugged youths on the hill and continued filming them for the sake of scoop.
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  • Christmas Cake: Elsa is 24 years old and is already perceived as an Old Maid by some of the men in the village.
  • Crapsack World: The town is set in an almost desert-like landscape, thanks to a drought believed to be a curse after they drove away a leper. Then there's the townspeople...
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Elsa freezes in a particular pose that evokes such an image when she was suddenly shot while professing to the people.
    • Played straighter when her lifeless body is being carried to the ambulance as the people gravitate towards her.
  • Death of a Child: A cholera epidemic kills Sepa's children and Aling Pising's child.
  • Defiled Forever: Elsa and Chayong were raped by two drugged men on the way to the hill which they often went to to pray. Afterwards, Elsa has not been able to see the Virgin Mary and stopped healing due to the following epidemic and deaths. Though it was Chayong who took it the hardest...
  • Downer Ending: You know the one. After delivering her Final Speech to the watching crowd about how 'there are no miracles', she gets shot by a random gunman, causing a violent stampede. She dies in the arms of her 'apostles' and the people mourn her death as she is taken away in an ambulance.
  • Epic Film: Of sorts. The poster even had the words "with a cast of thousands". Subverted since the film was worked with a pretty average budget and there are no expensive sets. Most of the actors used are also not as famous as Nora Aunor.
  • Fanservice: Nimia, flashing her naked body to a bunch of young boys after catching them peeping at the women in her cabaret.
  • Foreshadowing: Elsa described seeing the Virgin Mary with a wound on her chest "like from a gunshot".
  • Framing Device: When the director professes to the priest about his sin on leaving Elsa and Chayong being raped as he shamelessly films it all, faraway shots of the scene from his camera are shown.
  • The Fundamentalist: The beggar often shouts "Go to hell!" to any people who have done her wrong. Most of the time is because people refused to give her money and when her child dies, she blames Elsa, crying that she will go to hell.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Elsa seemingly gives a faint smile before finally succumbing to the gunshot wound on her chest.
  • Healing Hands: People believe Elsa to have this. Later deconstructed.
  • Heroic BSoD: Elsa after being raped along with Chayong, seeing her dead body hanged, and witnessing the death of people under the hands of an epidemic which caused her to stop healing.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Nimia, who worked as a prostitute back in Manila. She later opens a cabaret to earn money for her father, only for it to be shut down by Elsa's apostles.
  • Humans Are Bastards
  • Jerkass: The two men who make fun of Elsa just after the deaths of several villagers including Chayong from suicide which caused her Heroic BSoD.
  • Karma Houdini: Elsa and Chayong's rapists seem to receive no retribution for their crime.
  • Mama Bear: In one scene, Elsa's mother, having had enough with people constantly pestering Elsa, topples a table full of blessed water, exclaiming that she'll be back tomorrow and everyone should leave.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Were there really no miracles?
  • Mourning Clothes: Almost all of the townspeople when burying the victims of the cholera epidemic.
  • Mysterious Waif: Elsa is found on the titular hill as a baby by her adoptive mother.
  • Only Sane Man: Elsa's adoptive mother is the only one that doesn't get caught in the miracle hype and she's mostly seen interacting with her daughter. Besides Orly and the priest, she's also shown to be somewhat skeptical, only going along with it for her daughter's sake.
  • Peaceful in Death: Elsa, as she finally breathes her last breath, in contrast with the cacophony below.
  • Prayer Pose: Elsa, kneeling with hands clasped together and her head tilted up high to the Heavens.
  • Recurring Extra: The crazy lady (Aling Pising, the beggar) that carries her child ( which eventually dies, due to an epidemic) everywhere, asking for help to random passersby.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Guess who.
  • Scenery Gorn: Many, many scenes of the stampede that took place after the shot was fired to Elsa.
  • Seemingly-Wholesome '50s Girl: A minor character named Bella, the young woman being taken care of by Lolo Hugo, the blind man. It's implied a few times that she's not as innocent as she looks. First, she was dragged away from the cabaret by the old man all the while complaining that she was just looking, and simply leaves it at that. The second time—and the last we see of her in the film before she's seen helping other people carry Lolo Hugo off the hill after he was trampled—she is seen charming a white tourist.
  • Tempting Fate: Some see as Elsa's profession to the people as this when she speaks with open arms to the people that there are no miracles and it is only people who create miracles, curses and gods. And then, she was shot.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Some portrayals of Elsa.
  • Total Eclipse of the Plot: Elsa sees and hears the Virgin Mary during a Solar Eclipse as shown in the beginning. Actually, the eclipse is the first thing we see and the story starts there instantly.
  • Two Decades Behind: The movie acould've been set in the actual year the incident occurred—that is, The '60s. But as soon as Elsa mentioned having been found by the hill in 1958 and her age being 24, add that, and the year was actually set at then-present 1982 (also in Chayong's gravestone, her year of death is 1982). The barrio of Cupang is just so deserted and poverty stricken that it justifies the Crapsack World setting and how out of the curb they are.
  • The Un-Reveal: Subverted. While it is not known who exactly is Elsa's killer and why he had done it, he is seen being beaten up by several men in response to his actions.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Elsa, Chayong, and Nimia. Well, only Nimia and has recalled to Orly they had a ¡Three Amigos! style of companionship as kids.
  • Women in White
  • You Keep Using That Word: Nimia's "cabaret" and its description thereof is more akin to that of a sleazy nightclub or brothel. It is worth noting however that it's not uncommon in the Philippine language to have certain terms repurposed and in this case, "cabaret" (spelled as "kabaret" in Filipino and is pronounced as how it's spelled) is automatically synonymous with such establishments.
    • Mrs. Alba erroneously concluding "Immaculada Concepcion"note  about Elsa's sudden pregnancy. She probably meant to say "nacimiento virginal" note .


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