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Film / Pag-asa

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Pag-asa, or "Hope", is a 1951, black and white, Tagalog-language Filipino film, directed by classic movie director Lamberto V. Avellana. Its plot is as follows:

"After their father’s death, Celing (Priscilla Cellona) and her little brother Piding (Ike Jarlego, Jr.) are entrusted to the affluent Don Paco. Enduring harsh treatment from his wife Doña Esperanza (Naty Bernardo), the two flee one night and meet Victor (Armando Goyena), an amusement ride-operator in a city fair. He takes them to his home and his mother (Rosa Aguirre) in the squatter area of Manila, in Intramuros. Hearing Celing sing, Victor’s uncle (Gregorio Ticman) encourages her to enter an amateur singing contest, eventually spreading the beauty of her voice to wide acclaim. Hearing of her fame, Doña Esperanza has other plans …"


The full movie can be found here, for free, online.

Relevant Tropes:

  • Acme Products: In name at least. The first ad man who comes knocking at Lola Teria's door, hoping to hire Celing to sing commercial jingles, represents a firm called the …
  • The Alcoholic: Mang Sebio, Lola Teria's brother (who often calls her "Terry", to her chagrin), Victor's uncle, and Celing's eventual talent manager.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: When Mang Sebio explains to Piding his plan to enter Celing into a radio singing contest, he says her voice will be heard all over the country because it'll use electricity to travel that far. That chat over, Sebio promptly brings Celing to the nearest radio station to sign up. The problem is, the way Piding interprets it, is that they're going to "a station with electricity" … so when Lola Teria hears his version, she's horrified, thinking that Mang Sebio was arrested, brought to a police station, and about to be sent to the electric chair!
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  • Big Bad: Doña Esperanza.
  • Citadel City: Intramuros, the walled city of Manila, hosts the humble home of Victor, his mother Lola Teria, and his uncle, Mang Sebio, where Celing and Piding end up staying. This was very shortly after WWII, so the walls were still largely bombed-out ruins, and the district is home to squatter colonies.
  • The Chanteuse: Celing becomes this when she wins an amateur radio singing competition and gets a contract to sing for that radio station, cementing her fame as "the Cecilia Hernandez".
    • Leoni, Aling Tinay's niece, is described as a torch singer in a cabaret, but she's never seen or heard singing.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Celing and Piding, which is why they leave Cabanatuan (in the Central Luzon region in the north) for Manila, to live with Don Paco (and eventually, for Celing to seek a living).
  • Death of a Child: Piding dies (oh so dramatically) in Celing's arms after he's hit by a speeding bus. He was running away from the approaching Doña Esperanza, who'd been threatening to send him to a dreaded place called Lulumboy.
  • Deliberately Monochrome
  • Gratuitous English: Victor often lapses into this, in part due to his constant reading and attempts to go back to school. He's got the Elvis-esque American accent down pat too (thanks in large part, of course, to American (neo)colonial influence in Philippine education and media).
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Occasionally Doña Esperanza lapses into this. It's auditory shorthand to characterise her as the movie's central villain—due to the country's long, oppressive, colonial history under Spain (prior to the American colonial era, of course), characters with Spanish blood, mannerisms, and/or cultural markers were often used in Filipino melodramas as irredeemable villains. (Victor even calls her out on it when she tries to use high-flown Spanish expressions to elicit sympathy from him—or intimidate him, as he sees it.)
  • Hate Sink: Doña Esperanza. Of course.
  • Ironic Name: Again, Doña Esperanza, whose name may be the Spanish for "pag-asa" (i.e., hope), but is perhaps the single biggest drain on anything resembling hope for Celing and Piding, so long as they're under her. Though it could also count for Meaningful Name in that, well, after all her abuse towards them, hope is really all they're left with.
  • Meaningful Name: Celing's legal given name is Cecilia—think Roman Catholic St Cecilia, patron saint of music.
  • Percussive Maintenance: The night that Celing is due to sing on the radio for the amateur contest, the receiver the whole barangay (village) is tuned into won't work. Victor accidentally fixes it with a good hard smack.
  • Telenovela: Features all the melodrama of the genre, compressed into a single, hour-and-a-half-long movie format.
  • Shirtless Scene: Victor wakes up without his shirt at one point. It's not treated as particularly fanservice-y, especially since it really gets that hot in the Philippine tropics at times, and in The '50s electric fans weren't too common or affordable to just everyone yet.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: There's definitely a class-war dimension going on what with the rural-poor Celing and Piding pitted against the very rich, and very cruel, Doña Esperanza (and this is a common trope in many other Filipino movies and teleseryes), but the big subversion, in terms of upper-class morality alignment, is her own husband, the benevolent and protective Don Paco. (There are also less-than-sympathetic characters among the poor, including the rather spoiled and shrill yet working-class torch singer Leoni, who behaves like a less-extreme version of Doña Esperanza towards Celing and Piding.)
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Celing dresses up in male clothes (a farmer's woven hat, plaid shirt, and jeans) when escaping from Doña Esperanza's house with Piding. When the two of them sneak a free ride at the city carnival (in part to escape detection), Victor catches them and almost assaults her, mistaking her for a man—and when he brings them both to his home, Lola Teria, his mum, quips that he finally got married—to a man at that!
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Piding. Though he does steal a flower (with Victor's help) from a public park. And he is often rather impertinent towards his elders.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Though not the second wife of Celing and Piding's (now also deceased) dad, and with no indication of having any children of her own, Doña Esperanza otherwise fits this bill with a scene-chewingly cruel disposition towards them from the very moment they come into her "care". It is explicitly noted however that she's the second wife of Don Paco, the benevolent friend of said deceased dad.


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