Ang Nawawala: A Breath of Awesome Sauce

Just when I thought 500 Days of Summer would be the best-scored film I may ever see, Marie Jamora's Ang Nawawala (What Isn't There) happened. I should admit that I have never thought anyone or anything would beat my love for The Smiths and Halls and Oates, but then as I have said, this local indie film kicked me and made me realize that there is something good happening on the independent music scene in my country.

The moment Gibson Bonifacio (Dominic Roco) arrived at the Philippines where the colorful Filipino Christmas lights welcomed him, I knew I was up to something wonderful. Not only did the movie hit me right with flaring lights but most importantly, it played the nostalgic song Hannah Gabi's New Window. Even though I didn't have the slightest idea what the movie was all about or how would it go, that moment successfully tucked me to me seat.

Enid del Mundo (Annicka Dolonius) reminded me of Sam from Perks of Being a Wallflower and Summer from 500 Days of Summer and other girls that played a Manic Pixie Dream Girl movie archetype, which was of course a bad thing as she should have arrived authentic and unforcefully beguiling... the worst thing though was that she reminded me so much about myself and my issues. I constantly see myself in various fictional characters, but never have I seen myself this close. If not for the calming music of Outerhope (No End in Sight; Two Years From Now) which played randomly along the love story of Enid and Gibson, I swear I would have walked out of the theater for the following reasons: first, was that because I felt that my identity was exploited, though of course every girl had played Enid at least once in their lives; second, was that the movie came to me as an epiphany and rubbed to my face how stupid I had been all along. My classmate said to me that she found Enid's decision evil and a complete mistake, and I had unconsciously swoop her with the statement "No! What Enid did was foolish, but it wasn't evil! It could be a mistake, but that was what she thought would be the best option!" Talking about defensiveness.

Marie Jamora expressed romance at the most peculiar ways possible. I never thought running late would be utterly romantic as Gibson called Enid (which was a surprise since he doesn't speak at the earlier parts of the story) just so she could still listen to Ang Banda ni Shirley's Di Na Mababalik. Savannah and John's lip lock under the rain (Dear John) had always been the best kissing scene I have ever seen, until Gibson and Enid went on a kiss-listen-kiss-listen cycle on Enid's car while playing random yet definitely cool OPM songs.

I consider Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis' Cruisin as the perfect date song, but I was taken away on how an Apo Hiking song signalled Gibson and Enid's first kiss. I always had such high regards for that epic trio but I never thought any of their songs could push someone into saying "Boy/Girl I've found the perfect her/him"... let alone the irony that Gibson would not speak yet the song was Ano Ang Ibig Mong Sabihin, played with an authentic vinyl record.

I take most of the good-scored films I have seen as films that can eventually turn into a record, but I guess Ang Nawawala is more of a set of records that eventually turned into a film. It was a breath of fresh, musical air- the kind of independent film you could go home with and let your parents watch without the fear that you would be grounded for artistically pornographic intents. Wishing there is something like this in the next Cinemalaya Film Festival!

Outerhope's Twenty Years From Now is my favorite record from the soundtrack. Whoever said OPM is dead should be exiled.

P.S: Thank you so much for Cinesb for bringing Ang Nawawala back to Manila!

*Photos from Ang Nawawala trailer
*Manic Pixie Dream Girl archetype from Colonial Mental

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