Thy Womb: Defying the Notions for Tragic Movies

If I am to be asked about my verdict on Brillante Mendoza's Thy Womb, my answer will be that "It is nothing but sadness".

Shaleha (Aunor) is a Badjao midwife in Tawi-Tawi. Shaleha Sarail hails from a seaborne village in Sitangkai, Tawi-Tawi. The province is a seaweed-producing spot in the southernmost part of the Philippines all the way down the Malaysian and Indonesian archipelagos. Aging and still smarting from three miscarriages in the past, Shaleha agonizes over her failure to bear a child. Though an adoptive parent to her nephew, she still feels that her husband Bangas-An (Bembol Roco) desires to be a father. She struggles to cope with the irony of her own infertility amidst the deprivation of her community.

To fulfill her husband’s only wish and to be blessed by Allah—in her belief that having a child is a tangible proof of divine grace—Shaleha resolves to find a new partner for her husband. Night and day, she and her husband sail away from their floating village and to nearby island communities in search of a fertile woman. As if by providence, Shaleha finds the girl through friends' recommendations. But on the eve of her husband’s second marriage to Mersila (Lovi Poe), jealousy gnaws and consumes Shaleha. . A saga of island life stuck between the devil of passion and the deep blue sea of tradition. - Wikipedia

Unlike other movies that will go on discussing such a light storyline in the heaviest way possible, Thy Womb wasn't ambitious even though it got a story that should be. Here we have an unfortunate midwife who takes "Irony" in a whole new level as she gives life to other children yet can't get one for her own. As she conform to her culture's norms, she is doomed to lose her husband and live a lonely life forever... yet she is taking everything casually.

Along the tragic adventure of Shaleha, the viewer’s are given a good window to the lives of Badjao, which makes it encompassing as it discusses domestic, religious, cultural and topographic problems which are not anew to our natives. As it goes, Thy Womb hits all the birds possible with one slim rock, which weighs thousand times heavier than its actual size.

The beauty of the movie lies on its lightweight rather than on its heaviness. It is really unimaginable to see Nora Aunor, an effective actress nonetheless, lose everything she has and sew all her pain away. If that will not make you cringe then nothing ever will. If the story was taken by a mainstream producer, we are to get lines such as “Pero mahal kita at gagawin ko ang lahat!” or “Sige umalis ka! Matapos kong gawin ang lahat!” but we didn’t… which makes it more tormenting. There are no slapping and crying only casual remarks and heavy eyes. There are no emotional surges on the movie which means you have to carry all the sadness you have until the end! If we are to place the cathartic effect of the movie into a piece of paper it will transpire as a flat line. It is of pure innocence and calmness, perplexing though it seems.

It will really defy people’s notion that everything tragic is sad. After watching the movie you will realize the big difference between a tragic movie and a sad movie. A tragic movie (on a mainstream lens), is something that will make you cry, commit a suicide even, while on the other hand, a sad movie will make you cringe and shiver with emotional pain… which in due time will call for a suicide then.

Brillante Mendoza’s Thy Womb is one movie that will live in your mind and heart. It is something you will not soon forget as it will break every veins in your heart with sheer sadness.

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