Monday, April 6, 2009

When Rape Becomes Rapture

By Clarence Yu

Can rape be equated to freedom?

The Rapture of Fe (Filipino title: Ang Pangagahasa kay Fe) is an independently produced Filipino film that has just recently started shooting on location in a northern province of the Philippines.
According to the film's official website, the screenplay is written by Alvin Yapan, a winner of the Gawad Urian award and multiple Palanca Awards.* The film will star critically acclaimed stage and film actress, Irma Adlawan (Stray Cats), in the title role of Fe. Fe is a former OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) forced to come home as she is laid off from her job because of the current global financial crisis.
Upon coming home to the Philippines, she is met with violent abuse by her husband Dante, played by Nonie Buencamino. Complicating her predicament further is her relationship with her younger lover, played by popular Filipino actor TJ Trinidad. Most mysterious of all, baskets of black fruits keep appearing at her doorstep.
Based on this, one can only surmise that Fe will deal with multiple issues confronting Filipino society today: the plight of Overseas Filipino Workers, domestic abuse, family role-reversals, extreme poverty, how these issues are currently being made aware to the general public, and how this movie is an attempt to portray these long overlooked societal problems in a different light.
As these issues have been at the forefront of many a human and civil rights' group's advocacy list, both Filipino and international, one might think that this movie may have nothing new to say. But what makes this film look interesting are the dual titles employed. Whether this is intended or not, it serves to give the film different perspectives from an etymological and linguistic standpoint. Consider the English definitions of the word "rapture":
1. The state of being transported by a lofty emotion; ecstasy;2. An expression of ecstatic feeling. Often used in the plural;3. The transporting of a person from one place to another, especially to heaven.
Essentially, these definitions suggest emancipation, or imply freedom.
Compare these definitions to the English connotation of the Filipino word "Panggagahasa": "The raping" or simply "rape."
Now, we repeat the question: can rape be equated to freedom? This comparison is obviously contradictory when performing a literal translation, but take on a much deeper meaning in a figurative sense.
It is this stark contrast in literal and figurative translation that gives a potential viewer like myself something thought-provoking to incite enough interest in the seeing the finished film. Let’s hope that this presumably mysterious film does not disappoint in trying to enlighten, entertain, and propel thoughts into action. The film is one of the ten finalists chosen to compete later this year in the Cinemalaya Film Festival staged by the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
* The Gawad Urian Awards are annual film awards in the Philippines held since 1977. They are given by the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (the Filipino Film Critics) which is currently regarded as the counterpart of the United States' New York Film Critics Circle. The Palanca Award is one of the Philippines' most prestigious and most enduring literary awards and is dubbed as the "Pulitzer Prize" of the Philippines

In the meantime, check out STRAY CATS, a previous movie by Irma Adlawan:

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