In a world that’s become cynical about love because of undefined relationships and messy break-ups, it’s good to know that there are still stories about undying and courageous love.
As it opened in theaters nationwide on February 8, the wholesome “Moonlight Over Baler” which is rated Parental Guidance by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB). The romantic film is set in the summer of 1986 in the famous surfing town of Baler, Quezon. This is where Kenji, a Japanese photojournalist, encounters two mesmerizing women: the 65-year old former schoolteacher, Fidela, and the fiesty and seductive local beauty, Rory.
When Kenji needs to go through a series of challenges to win Rory’s heart, Fidela unselfishly helps Kenji. Not just because she has a soft spot for the young charming foreigner, but because Kenji looks so much like Nestor—the soldier that Fidela was supposed to marry in the 1940s. Fidela had waited for Nestor until she became older and in Kenji, Fidela finds some kind of promise.
Starring in the film is an ensemble of very talented performers: Elizabeth Oropesa as Fidela, Ellen Adarna as Rory, Sophie Albert as the young Fidela and Vin Abrenica as Nestor/Kenji, with Daria Ramirez, Alvin Fortuna, Kate Alejandrino, Abel Estanislao, Angie Ferro, Benjie Felipe, Jess Evardone, and many more.
The story is partly inspired by true events that happened in Pagbilao, Quezon, the hometown of director Gil Portes. Direk Gil related to screenwriter Enrique “Eric” Ramos, the story of his aunt, a teacher, whose fiance, a USAFFE soldier, went off to fight the Japanese in World War 2 and never returned. Instead of considering other romantic interests, the teacher kept pining for her missing love, praying he will come back. “When she reaches retirement age and meets a drug salesman who looks so much like her ex-fiance, my aunt became friends with this young man,” Direk Gil shares. Upon hearing the details about Direk Gil’s aunt, Eric proceeded to fashion a tale of a woman’s devotion and sacrifice across generations. Eric’s script of “Moonlight Over Baler” eventually won third place in the Dulang Pampelikula category of the 2009 Gawad Palanca Awards.
Essential to the movie is “O, Maliwanag Na Buwan,” a Tagalog ditty based on the Ilocano folk song, “O, Naraniag A Bulan.” No less than National Artist for Music and Literature Levi Celerio translated this Ilocano folk song into Tagalog version that was recorded by Pilita Corrales. Eric reveals, “The original Ilocano lyrics are actually sad but when Mr. Celerio translated them into Tagalog, the over-all message became more hopeful. From the moment I sat down to write the script, I had ‘O Maliwanag Na Buwan’ as the theme of Fidela.”
Direk Gil, Eric and producer Rex Tiri envision “Moonlight Over Baler” as a film that would inspire the young and young-at-heart to believe in everlasting love. “Nowadays when angsty ‘hugot lines’ have become the norm, we want to give the audience a reason to hope,” says Mr. Tiri. “Love is not always a bed of roses, but love is real and it never dies.”
Now showing across the Philippines, “Moonlight Over Baler” is produced by T-Rex Entertainment.