Buy Bust: Movie Review

  1. Advanced happy feast day of St. Jean Marie Vianney, patron saint of parish priests! I started writing this because I woke up at dawn and I couldn’t sleep again. If that happens, I usually write whatever comes to mind. But this time, it’s time to write an annual movie review.
  2. Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t watched the film yet, then you may stop reading now. But if you want spoilers before watching the film, then feel free to scroll.
  3. What is a Buy Bust? It is a term used for a drug entrapment operation of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (thanks Google!). They would send an asset (undercover agent), and use marked moneys with the drug dealers to pretend buying their illegal drugs and bust them.
  4. It starts with (one thing!) police officers De la Cruz and Alvarez torturing and extracting details from Teban about a big-time drug dealer named Biggie Chen. Now, the policemen plan out a buy bust operation in Tondo, Manila. Threatening to hurt his wife, Teban volunteers as their asset though he does not know exactly where Biggie is but he guarantees he can fish out Biggie.
  5. Kapayapaan! I recognized Alex Calleja as Teban and waited for comical relief. I was not disappointed. When Alvarez showed Teban the map of Tondo shaded with a majority of blue and asked what does it mean, Teban’s answer was kapayapaan (peace)!
  6. Anne Curtis as a rebellious officer: Next scene is on a PDEA team training with high-powered guns. Nina Manigan (played by Anne Curtis) committed a mistake on the drill by leaving her team and acting on her own. She argues that sometimes, an officer must disobey orders for the mission to succeed. Irritated by this defiant behavior, team leader Lacson (played by Victor Neri) shot Manigan in the back with a rubber bullet. Lacson tells her that her attitude will let the whole team down and her to death.
  7. A back story: Nina Manigan was part of a botched PDEA entrapment team before and she is the only surviving member of that team. In the barracks, she scans through some old pictures and saw a handwritten name at the back of one of the photograph: Hudas.
  8. Hudas: Taken from the biblical character Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus for 30 silver coins. That’s the clue that PDEA is infiltrated with a higher-up who orchestrated their past entrapment scheme at their expense, the operation’s front liners.
  9. When freeloaders take the credit: In real life, we only hear of the victims of extra judicial killings but never about the lives of policemen and soldiers being fielded in the frontline and getting killed. Like the generals were playing chess and they are the real-life pawns. When I went to the infamous Ampatuan massacre site in Maguindanao last 2013, I heard of the stories of some soldiers’ sentiment of being left out and their leaders earning the credit and promotion from their hard work. If we have freeloaders in school group projects, we too have them in the corporate world, government offices, and even in national security.
  10. Going back to the film, Alvarez approaches Lacson to work on a mission in Tondo with De la Cruz leading their team. Their plan is to hold the entrapment on a park. With the PDEA officers in disguise and looking out for Teban, Biggie Chen then talks to Teban through the phone with their conversation wiretapped. Biggie asked Teban to change location as he suspects Teban selling him out and Biggie thinking the park is not a safe place to meet. Biggie instructs Teban to meet him in Gracia de Maria.
  11. Them going to Maria de Gracia reminds me of the book of Joshua with Israelites invading the walled city of Canaan or the King Solomon’s troop and the shepherd boy David going up against the Philistines and Goliath. Inside the van, the operation team prayed a psalm of deliverance in Filipino (I am interested where exactly in the Book of Psalms they got for prayer).
  12. True Story: When I was a young boy, (you saw this coming, right? Here’s Welcome to the Black Parade) I wanted to become a soldier. I played with self-made wooden guns and pellet guns with my cousins and get hit occasionally. Though I am taller than the average Filipinos, I know I wouldn’t last in the army. I remember that when I entered high school, Marist School just scrapped the CAT (Citizen Army Training). I don’t know why they did it but I was actually looking forward to join the CAT. I have yet to touch an actual gun.
  13. Before entering Gracia de Maria, they split into two groups: Alpha group lead by Lacson and Beta with De la Cruz and their asset Teban. Team Beta acts as Teban’s bodyguards and Team Alpha stays behind as lookouts. Since Gracia de Maria is quite populated, Team Alpha held some bystanders as hostages to silence them as they might blow the team’s cover. Teban meets with Biggie’s goons lead by Chongki, who even has a metal detector with him and got a little tense with De la Cruz’s team Beta as they refuse to hand over their guns to these goons.
  14. As they walk inside Biggie’s drug den, we see a glimpse of Gracia de Maria’s environment. We are now getting introduced with three different groups inside the slum: PDEA officers, Biggie’s goons, and the Gracia de Maria’s residents (which will play a vital role in the film later).
  15. Gracia de Maria: This place has a lots of stories to tell it can inspire another film. This slum area is like a labyrinth. We see a family grieving in a wake, adults dancing in a night club, a discreet meth lab, and abandoned buildings.
  16. Abandoned buildings are a thing in the past local action films and I am glad it got a reprisal (no, I’m kidding).
  17. Translated in English as the grace of Mary, Gracia de Maria is a slum area in the Tondo that shelters to poor and innocent bystanders constantly caught in the middle of the “drug wars” between the police and the drug dealers.
  18. Biggie Chen and Teban then meets but we couldn’t see them. We hear them speak though and we get a feeling that these drug dealers might kill them all and just take all the marked money. Manok (played by Joross Gamboa) enters and whispers to the goons guarding outside Biggie’s den. Gunshots are heard, implying that all Team Beta members are now down and Team Alpha now abort their mission but it’s too late. The drug dealers now start for a hunt as we hear the improvised alarms and spotlights flashing to the main pathways. It was a trap all along. The PDEA officers now becomes the prey while the drug dealers “caged” them.
  19. While they were escaping, Chongki hostages one (I forgot the name) Chinese-looking man whose phone was loudly ringing and threatened the hiding PDEA to surrender or they’ll kill a hostage. There was no response from Team Alpha so Chongki kills the man. This provokes Solomon, the grieving man for his dead son Judiel, and brings out a gun and leads the people of Gracia de Maria to fight and kill both the PDEA and the drug dealers.
  20. All the interesting fight scenes are all here in the hunt for the PDEA team and I won’t spoil what exactly happens and see for yourselves how they end up falling down one by one and how they fought back. If you watch the film, you’ll know why they brought a mixed martial artist in the person of Brandon Vera. I got the shock of my life when I saw Anne Curtis’ fight scenes. She got moves!
  21. A comeback for Filipino action films? We are spoiled movie viewers. We just had Mission Impossible 6 and Skyscraper, both foreign action films, and now they are screening Buy Bust, a local action film. I can now dare to say that action films in the Philippines got a future with the top-notch fighting scenes choreography. I hope this film would start a trend in local cinemas.
  22. Hudas blown uncovered? Now some members are dead and some still alive and wounded, the escaping team Alpha encounters Teban and De la Cruz both unscathed. Manigan then declares De la Cruz as “Hudas” who betrayed their buy bust operation. Lacson would then handcuff De la Cruz with Teban escorting him even declaring to the bald officer that he is now the boss, “Ako na ngayon ang boss mo!
  23. Team Alpha is clearly outnumbered but it seems that the goons have difficulty catching them. They accidentally goes to a roof of sleeping back-up of the drug dealers who open fired at them, practically annihilating Lacson and his wife and another team member.
  24. An order: Lacson orders Manigan to leave her behind as an order and since she promised beforehand that she would obey him, she complied. Remember that we had good government leaders before whose public service were cut short due to an illness or accident. I hope that our policemen have their own version of Lacsons and Manigans. Salute to these kind of noble men and women!
  25. Now stranded on an abandoned building, De la Cruz and Manigan got in a heated as she vents out how her former team were left out to die in an operation. De la Cruz provokes Manigan to shoot him but Yatco tells her not to but she kills Hudas anyway. Down with three people, they are now trapped in this building with a riding-in-tandem open firing at them and Manok threatening to set the building on fire. Yatco and Manigan split into two and manages to escape and even kill all the goons outside. Somewhere, Teban walks away but will meet Chongki later.
  26. On Talismans: Yatco, played by Brandon Vera, wears a bottle cap as an amulet. He even tries to use the cap to heal his open wound in the shoulder to no avail and Manigan ridiculed him. Anting-anting as we call it in Filipino is quite common in some parts of the Philippines and people believe it can keep them safe from death if not completely from any harm.
  27. It will be bloody: The remaining PDEA officers, Yatco and Manigan, gets trapped by an angry mob who had enough of the killings and operations inside their turf. Manigan signals Yatco to get ready as they are up for a blood bath.
  28. The fight reminds me of zombie apocalypse films and Metal Slug, the video game we used to play before in a playstation console.
  29. Brandon Vera as Antonio Luna! The bottle cap as an amulet seems working! No other character in the film got punched, shoved, stabbed, as Yatco (next to Manigan). It was like a replay of Antonio Luna’s murder scene in Heneral Luna.
  30. Last (wo)man standing: Now Yatco is dead, Manigan gets his “anting-anting” and wears it on her neck. She survives the wave of the angry mob and fainted. She had a quick nap which lets her recover and steps over pile of dead bodies over. Do not underestimate the power of taking a nap! She saw Yatco’s dead body floating. Manigan borrows his anting-anting and wears it.
  31. As she searches for the way out, Manigan saw Teban being shot by Chongki in the head and she follows Chongki and his henchmen. She now discovers the meth lab. She sneaks behind them and was able to finally kill all the homies of Biggie and see him finally. Biggie Chen, played by Arjo Atayde, raises up his arms in the air.
  32. Who is Hudas? Manigan asks him who is Hudas. Which one? There’s more than one, Biggie replies.
  33. We now hear one of the most memorable dialogues we will ever hear about the so-called “drug war”. With a gun pointed at him, Biggie casually tells Manigan what is the drug war all about in a nutshell.
  34. A henchman arrives and distracts Manigan so Biggie was able to maim her (I’m not really sure here, I was looking at my phone!). Now, Biggie gets the gun but decides not to kill Manigan. He rings the other Hudas (aside from De la Cruz) and we now know that Alvarez was a Hudas too! So the interrogation in the opening of the film was all lies and pretension!
  35. A fitting ending: After a final scuffle with Biggie, Manigan decides not to kill Biggie and places him in an arrest with a glass shard pointed at his neck. As viewers, we know that Alvarez is a Hudas too as pointed out by Biggie. When Manigan hands over Biggie and gets a hug from Alvarez, I like how the camera focuses on Manigan with her back turned on the audience as she constraints herself to express how angry she really is with Alvarez, the real culprit  why her former and current squad all died. Lacking an ambulance, Alvarez now leads Manigan to a utility van for her to be rushed to a hospital. But instead of only her and an accompanying police on the utility van, she was joined by Biggie and Alvarez himself. Alvarez shoots Biggie inside the van and the weak Manigan still has energy to steal the gun from Alvarez! What stamina Anne Curtis has! Then she avenges her team by shooting Alvarez to death and the accompanying officer.
  36. “What happened?” The police officers asked. Like the usual answer Filipinos hear on the local television, Manigan blurted out, “Nanlaban ang suspect.” (The suspect fought back). When the Philippines started the “drug war”, the line nanlaban would be the buzz word heard about alleged drug pushers and users getting killed. The last time I blurted out nanlaban while watching a film was when I was watching Seklusyon two years ago.
  37. Casualties: only thirteen! While the media is reporting, an aerial shot of dead bodies inside Gracia de Maria can be seen while a song by Asin plays on the background. It was like 1,300 people or more died there. This scene is like a diss to the inaccurate and unverified reporting of media and of the policemen covering up or overlooking crime details. Omission of any detail of news, be it good or bad, is disservice as it takes away our access to the truth. Besides, the number of casualties are not just about numbers but about persons!
  38. I like how films by Erik Matti serve as social commentaries particularly the “real talk” of Biggie.
  39. Are we going to see more quality action films after this? Well, the next action movie that I want to watch is about Trese. It would be interesting for me (at least for me) to see Anne Curtis play the role of Alexandra Trese.
  40. One of the best local action movies of all time. This is the Filipino action movie I’ve been waiting for since On The Job (I don’t know if Goyo or Heneral Luna counts as actions films though). It took five years for a follow-up. I’m not complaining though as Erik Matti gave us Seklusyon two years ago. Hands up to all people who made Buy Bust movie possible. I don’t know if this would start a trend but I hope local movies would lessen the romantic comedy films produced at present. We need more films who will let us not only be amazed and be entertained but also to think, and even care for our country. Or maybe it’s just me asking Erik Matti to direct and produce more films in the future.
  41. I am now heading to Japan in two weeks time and Buy Bust might be the last Filipino film I would ever watch before I fly to Kobe and stay there for three years. It feels like I am on a death row and being asked for what I want before I get executed. If that’s the case, I would tell the warden that I want to watch Buy Bust as my final wish. The anxiety is real. Please pray for me.
  42. That’s all and peace be with you all!


Allen, FMS

On Movie reviews and Windows 10 Pro Activation Error

Hello WordPress,

I’m on a roll in writing this week. It’s examination time here in our school and I have some time to spare. Here we go…

I was looking at my stats this year and my Seklusyon movie review seem to be one of my top post. It was part of the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival. So let’s talk about movies.

Speaking of the MMFF, I am already thinking of movies to watch this December aside from a coming Star Wars prequel (a series I haven’t watch even a single film). I am not even sure if I will be able to watch it because the MMFF usually occupies all theatres nationwide during the Christmas break.

For the whole year, I only watched four movies in theatre: 1) Seklusyon, 2) Guardians of the Galaxy 2, 3) Spider-Man Homecoming, and 4) Kita Kita. Before, I used to write about any movies I’ve watched and I now have the conscious effort not to. If I am able to see religious and spiritual themes, then I would write a film review. I was planning to watch Smaller and Smaller Circles (watch the trailer here) but unfortunately Alnor Cinema is not screening it. I just love Filipino indie films. I know I missed a lot this year with the likes of Birdshot, Bar Boys, and others. I know maybe I would miss them altogether next year once I travel abroad. Well, that’s part of my life and it’s a lesson on detachment.

But do not expect me to be on the level of Bishop Barron’s Word On Fire movie reviews like his movie review on Lady Bird or his brilliant review of The Avengers. My movie reviews are inclined to be mixed up with personal anecdotes and with lots of spoilers.

This vacation, I would re-watch again my favorite movie Shawshank Redemption and write a review. I intended to write one last March but it slipped on my mind.

For the mean time, let me worry about how will I activate my Asus Notebook’s Windows 10 Pro. I got this error after the latest Windows Update this December. I got the notebook with a free pre-installed OS. I don’t have a copy of the Activation Code and I can’t afford the price of a Windows 10 Pro. I’ll take it back to the service center in General Santos City.

For convenience, maybe I’ll switch to a Mac. I just don’t know if it’s compatible with this notebook’s Intel Celeron Dual-Core with a 2GB RAM. So Chromebook is another option as well.

Bye for now.

Seklusyon: Movie Review

  1.  Happy Feast of Epiphany! I wrote this because someone asked for my opinion about watching Seklusyon, an entry in the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival. If you haven’t watched the film yet, do not read yet because this contain spoilers.
  2. I used the word “seklusyon” to refer to the one-week phase that deacons must undergo in the film. I discussed some church doctrines (e.g. teachings about sin and fallen angels) and how the film stirred me (this means a lot of digressions). I’m more of a catechist than a theologian and I am amateur in both disciplines though. Besides, I was just eager to eat my free popcorn (thank you Br. Dean).
  3. The film was set on a post-WWII Philippine period. It starts with a deacon named Miguel. He is seen confessing his sins with a priest. Just before he finishes the confession, the priest asked him whether he still has something more to confess. It seems that he’s keeping some secret to himself. And yes, he keeps an embarrassing secret that we will learn later on when he’s on the secluded house already.
  4. A little bit of doctrine: Non-Catholics (or even Catholics too) might be asking why is there a need to confess one’s sins to a priest. The basic teaching of the Church on sin is that it “separates” one from God, himself, from others. Sin is not just a private matter; it also affects the community. And the Church is one big community. As the representative of this one big community, the Church, the priest is given the authority to hear confessions and absolve sins (i.e. to correct and sinner and reconnect him to the church). The last question of the priest in the film reminded me of un-confessed sins:
    1. sins of omissions (i.e. sins done when he should have done something but didn’t do like ignoring a beggar);
    2. sins that we forget to confess about when we are already in front (or side) of the priest; and,
    3. sins that we deceitfully hide from the priest because we are embarrassed to tell them (which Miguel did).
  5. During a confession, confessee must be mindful of this sins. Otherwise, we are again reenacting what Adam and Eve did when they hid from the Lord in the garden (Gen. 3:8).
  6. I thought that the seklusyon is like the Call of Moses or the Flight of Elijah to Horeb where they were lead to the wilderness and there encounter an angel. But instead of encountering God’s messenger, Miguel and the rest would encounter another kind of “angel”. I almost forgot to mention that Miguel was told by his confessor that the seklusyon is for him to be protected from demons since their attack is at its peak when a deacon is due for ordination. Whether it is a spiritual or physical attack, it was not mentioned how the demons would be able to do that to Miguel.
  7. When Miguel arrives to the secluded house where he would be staying for a week, he asked Sandoval the caretaker why there’s a need to lock the gate. Miguel was told that it’s not to prevent outsiders to enter but rather to prevent the deacons inside from escaping the house. Recalling this dialogue, it made me think that sin is also a “seclusion”. Sin doesn’t only “separate” one from God, himself, and from others; it too “secludes”. Miguel is later joined by other deacons who like him is undergoing the seclusion.
  8. We now encounter a WWII-veteran priest, Ricardo, who investigates a miracle worker, Anghela, and Sister Cecilia. At first, I thought she was a boy because her face looks masculine to me. This girl is seen wearing a “crown”, an allusion that this miracle worker is a fraud. Though she can really heal, her power seems anomalous. And whenever she heals, she vomits a blood-like ooze from her mouth. I will discuss these symbolisms later.
  9. Of all the characters in the film, I can easily relate to the role played by the priest investigator. Just like the priest, I too am a “doubter” of miracle works, faith healers, and private revelations. I am a “revert” to Catholicism. Probably, the investigator was already a priest during the war but I am not too sure of that. He suspects that the Sister was corrupting the poor girl to perform miracles for profit.
  10.  One night, the parents of Anghela were murdered, forcing the poor girl to seek shelter with Cecilia following her. When I saw the dead bodies on the stretchers, I recalled the victims of extrajudicial killings here in the country (I even blurted nanlaban). Maybe that’s just my perception. They are then assigned to seek shelter to the place where the seklusyon is on-going. Sandoval, being a strict caretaker/retreat master, don’t want them to enter as they would interrupt the seklusyon. But since they got an authorization letter from the bishop, Sandoval got not choice but to let them in. Besides, it’s night time.
  11. The priest-investigator goes to the bishop and tell about what he thinks of the miracle worker and the sister helping her. There seems to be an anomaly regarding her healing powers and the shady character of sister. The bishop rebuked Father Ricardo to back off and stay away from them. I was disturbed by this scene. I perceive it as uncharitable and unfraternal. It seems that it happened to me before when I did some investigating myself. You search for the truth but they attack you by asking what’s your intention. When the authority wants to silence you, it seems the reaction is to dig deeper and search further. It’s like investigative journalism, isn’t it? Ricardo then proceeds with his investigation by going to the former convent of Cecilia.
  12. Going back to the seklusyon, Miguel met three fellow deacons during a meal. The caretaker told them that that would be the only time they would talk to each other as the seklusyon needs to be done in silence and prayer. Miguel would then receive paper notes from his fellow deacon’s adjacent room, the message translated as “I cannot take it anymore”. Every night, Miguel would be receiving notes from the other room.
  13. I now notice that it is always dark throughout the film, a hint that gives that this film is a noir instead of a pious or religious film. Or maybe it is just that it is set on the late 1940s.
  14. When they go back to their respective bed quarters, we will see each one haunted by their “inner demons” or their repressed issues in life (Demons by Imagine Dragons plays on my head). Miguel by his ex-girlfriend, Erina; Fabian by his mentally-deranged mother; Carlo by his two younger brothers whom he deprived of food; and Marco by some kids wanting to play with him (a poorly written character, I guess). Their catharsis had “incarnated”. What they have escaped are haunting them.
  15. Miguel probably skipped confessing his previous affair with Erina, whom he got impregnated. On the secluded house, he is now haunted by her when she manifested through the image of the Our Lady of Peñafrancia. Among all the scenes, this shocked and scared me a lot.
  16. True Story: I too had my episodes with my “inner demons” (but not like what happened to the deacons!). Before I entered the novitiate last 2012, the start of religious/consecrated life, my “inner demons” started to haunt me. It seems like I don’t want to continue my vocation as a brother anymore. I wanted to go home. Before I entered the Marist Brothers, I was escaping my restlessness brought by spiritual dryness, the “rat race”, and my brokenheartedness. In other words, want to escape practical atheism, working, and being an N.G.S.B. (No girlfriend since birth). Another reason is that I had this sense of obligation to help my parents retire easily by helping them financially and being present in our house. Talking with my postulancy director, Br. Dem; with Br. Jeff Rhey, my accompaniteur; and with my spiritual directress, Sr. Jenen, O.P., I was assured that what I was going through was normal. It was up to me to decide freely whether to accept the call of becoming a Marist Brother or not. So I wrote my application letter to the Brother Provincial and said I would like to enter the novitiate. This formation stage is the true seclusion. Two years of it, actually. Every year that I renew my vows, I take time to reflect on these previous motivations and my present motivations.
  17. Going back to the film, the silent atmosphere of the seklusyon was interrupted when the two guests arrived. The character of Anghela is now revealed as a trickster and someone who was supernatural powers with her being able to read people’s mind. We now learn that Sandoval was a former priest who was stripped off his sacerdotal ministry. The next day, the caretaker then decides to do “something” he was planning to do for a long time. He now leaves the house and the scared deacons under the care of Anghela and Cecilia.
  18. The priest-investigator, driving with his vintage car, goes to the former community of Cecilia, and received a cold treatment from the mother superior. We are presented with a cynical sister and a helpless bedridden patient. Not wanting to give him directly the answers he is seeking, she cryptically said that he will found out everything he wanted to know about Cecilia on a compiled files of documents she hands out to the priest. She tells him to just read. He then goes to the barrios and probes those whom Anghela had healed. The priest learned later on that these people are already “worshiping” (the term used in the film, not mine) a tree dedicated to Anghela by bringing some flowers as offerings. The scene was like a reenactment of the Israelites worshiping the golden calf (Exodus 32:1-29). Upon learning this sacrilege, the priest-investigator later approaches the bishop to report this.
  19. Of all the characters, I am most curious about Anghela and Cecilia. With her powers, it seems that both or one of them is not a normal human person. With the help of Ricardo’s investigative skills, we now learn that Cecilia was raped during the war and had a burnt scar on her face. It was Anghela who healed her. It was not clear to me how it happened, but all I know was that Cecilia left the convent and joined Anghela in her healing ministry. Anghela has an alter ego named NgaHela (like Smeagol and Gollum of LoTR). I don’t know what it means but it seems evil. Now we know where Anghela got her powers. She is not just a human. She was an angel.
  20. True story: I am fascinated by angels. In fact, I myself have seen an apparition of an angel when I was still a child. I know this is not a make-believe because I was not the only one who saw the angel. I was playing with my cousins and was riding a push cart when we noticed the angel. When I saw the angel, I think I didn’t even know what an angel was. The angel was up there in the sky, using a formation of clouds as corporeal body. It seemed alive though the cloud was slowly fading. I can’t remember how long we stared at the angel. I think we were worn down in looking up before the angel disappeared. I was still in kindergarten that time so the year would be last 1994.
  21. I would quote in full what the New American Bible commentary says about angels:

    Hebrew mal’ak or “messenger” is regularly translated angelos by the Septuagint, from which the English word “angel” is derived, but the Hebrew term lacks connotations now popularly associated with “angel” (such as wings). Although angels frequently assume human form (cf. Gn 1819), the term is also used to indicate the visual form under which God occasionally appeared and spoke to people, referred to indifferently in some Old Testament texts either as God’s “angel,” mal’ak, or as God.

  22. Fallen angels are not angels anymore. To be an angel means to be a messenger of God. Since they have rejected God, a fallen angel is called a devil which means slanderer or the one who hurls. Islam would also believe that fallen angels rebelled against God. The last book of the bible has depicted about this “fall”  (Revelations 12:9, NAB). Jesus too referred to this “fall” when He mentioned to His disciples, “I observed Satan fall like lightning falling from the sky” (Luke 10:18, NAB). How of why they rebelled, that is mystery for me.
  23. Angels are pure spirits. Though they do not have a material body, it is possible for them to manifest in forms which we humans can see. Devils, as fallen angels, are still capable of doing that. Anghela is the manifestation of the Devil in human form.
  24. When Ricardo realizes the true identity of Anghela/NgaHela, he then decides to tell the bishop. They were then interrupted by Sandoval holding a gun and aims at Ricardo. Instead, he shoots the head of the bishop. I am now confused. Why did Sandoval did that? Was is grudge against the bishop? Was it because he wanted Ricardo to quickly solve the matter by killing the bishop and letting Ricardo exorcise the little girl? I think I’m getting the scenes mixed up now. I might need to watch a prequel or director’s cut of this film.
  25. Ricardo now rushes towards the seklusyon area. He now confronts NgaHela by and battles her by performing an exorcism. But she’s too powerful.
  26. From Anghela’s lips, we learn of her longing for a long time to meet Miguel, his father(?). She hugs Miguel tight. Miguel then lets her hug him.
  27. When all of them inside the house realizes the true identity of Anghela and was tempted and lured to trust this girl/devil, they partake into an anti-Eucharistic celebration in the chapel with Anghela as their priestess. This is an anti-Eucharist as it contrasts the self-giving of Jesus (Luke 22:19-20, NAB). NgaHela now draws the deacons to herself by giving them this dark liquid, which effectively lets them become her own servants. The chalice now contains the black ooze which Anghela vomits whenever she heals. She is now wearing the dead bishop’s mitre on her head.
  28. The deacons now drink the cup. When it was Miguel’s turn, he spits up the liquid and runs away from the house. Outside, we see Ricardo’s charred(?) body. He runs further towards the woods, stumbled, and hit his head on a big rock.
  29. The next scenes was a blur too. It’s like Inception. Was Miguel just lucidly dreaming? Or was he dead? For the sake of this review, he’s not dead yet (sorry, I am not too sure of this since I just watched the film once).
  30. After the concussion, we now see lots of flashbacks from Miguel’s perspective. We see Erina writing letters addressed to Miguel. We learn that the paper notes that Miguel was reading every night was not from his fellow deacon but from Erina herself. Erina was pregnant and Miguel is the father. And since she cannot take it anymore (first paper note), she hangs herself on a tree. We then see a fetus went out from her split womb and splashed towards the ground. And this child, it seems, was Anghela. Wait… what?! I might be wrong with this but I was mind blown.
  31. I am reminded of this of one issue of Trese, I learned about an urban legend known as the tiyanak. Sorry, I’m using fiction now. From this issue, we hear of unwanted babies turning into freak creatures. Going back to the film, I’m speculating that the Devil used the unborn baby of Miguel and Erina to manifest corporeally.
  32. Now we know that Anghela is truly a personified Devil, it is not clear to me how the Devil got a body of Anghela. It is possible that it is from the dead baby of Miguel’s pregnant ex-girlfriend Erina who committed suicide by hanging herself as what we saw in Miguel’s dream.
  33. Fast forward. Miguel now engages with a battle with NgaHela by invoking the intercession of St. Michael, the Archangel who defeated Satan. Now we know why Miguel got his name. It means “Who can compare with God?”. We are now left with a crying helpless Anghela pleading for her life. The last resort for Miguel was to kill NgaHela by stabbing the child in the heart. When Miguel lifted her to the table for him to stab, it reminds us of the biblical scene of Abraham who would offer his beloved son, Isaac, as a holocaust (Genesis 22:1-19, NAB). Since its a battle between good and evil, the fitting scene would be Michael defeating Satan (Revelation 12:7-8, NAB). Look for the iconic logo of Ginebra San Miguel gin bottle and see the great Fernando Amorsolo‘s artwork. If she was indeed Miguel’s child, she is now killed twice. Miguel now finally escapes the house and leaves his fellow deacons and Cecilia.
  34. Keep in mind that it is not a good idea to engage in dialogue with the Devil. Eve and Adam failed on this as they were deceived and tempted to listen to their own passions.  The devil will not mess up with the lives of people unless people invite them to. So my advice for kids out there is to never try playing the Ouija board. Do not even dare.
  35. On the scene where the remaining deacons were seen prostrating in circle, it reminded me of the three faces of Satan, the inverted Trinity in Dante Alighieri’s Inferno. We viewers know that these three deacons are not worthy to become priests. We know they would become future child abusers, womanizers, and gluttons.
  36. This scene reminded me the movie Spotlight where one of the characters said that if it takes on village to raise up a child, it takes up a whole city to abuse a child. If only we viewers were formators of these young men or simple parishioners who know the deacons, how would we prevent them from their wrong doings? We could have recommended them not to continue on their ordination and prevent them from becoming problematic priests.
  37. A plot hole? Cecilia was still wearing her religious garb during the ordination. Isn’t she exclaustrated from her congregation or just taking a leave of absence from her religious community? Or just started a new community on her own? Still curious what will happen to her after Anghela died.
  38. Going back to the ordination, we recall NgaHela saying that she would like to scatter her priest-followers inside the Church (Magisterium) so that the faithful would have a hard time distinguishing the impostors from the real pastors. The Devil might have deceived Miguel, his fellow deacons, and Cecilia that when Anghela died, the Devil will cease to exist. This is a lie because as pure spirit, the Devil is incorruptible.
  39. Just like what I’ve read from other film reviews, I would agree that the real horror of Seklusyon is not on the shocking scenes but rather the reality it opens to us viewers: that the Devil exists in our midst. The Devil might be tempting you or giving you false consolations. He might be working through our leaders. Because in the midst of power, wealth, or pleasure, the Devil is there.
  40. But the apostle Peter exhorts us to, “be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith” (1 Peter 5:8, NAB). Remember the Lord’s promise to us when he said we can drive out demons in his name (Mark 16:17, NAB)? Take courage, friends, for Jesus have conquered the world (John 16:33, NAB). Besides, as the name of Miguel suggests, who can compare with God? Jeez, that sounds preachy.

Other resources on angels: