I SAW the film “Ang Larawan” when I visited my sister Lydia and my family Wednesday, Jan. 10 at City Mall in Makati. It was a good musical film with a power cast of Filipino artists. The film, based on Nick Joaquin’s “Portrait of the Artist as Filipino,” delineated the theme of the Filipino’s fidelity to tradition but also showed how the values of parent and sibling relations were threatened by realistic needs to survive. Should art and tradition give way? The film resolved the query using beautiful music and cinematic craft and left the audience to reflect on their own perceptions. After all, as Warren and Wellek said... “literature is descriptive and less evaluative!” It is "dulce et utile" (Hazzlit).
Joanna Ampil and Rachel Alejandro as Candida and Paula were excellent. But personally, I felt the live stage presentation performed decades ago by Lolita Rodriquez and Rita Gomez as Candida and Paula was more intense in their characterization. Their age fit the spinsters’ roles, and dramatic moments were more passionately delivered. No songs but heart-rending dialogues; “The Portrait” and its message were the center of the story and its place on stage kept the audience in suspense. Often, the live stage performance is more interactive.
The Filipino family has been the core of the Philippine culture, and bonding has kept the tradition alive. The legacy is passed on from generation to generation and reunions become occasions to rekindle family values.