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ORO: When People are Tested through Their Intentions

This film is not your usual social-relevant story. It is actually about small group of people trying to make both ends meet through a small-scale mining on the side when their other means of livelihood (that is fishing) is not enough to put food in their tables.

If you were in that similar scenario, how would you exactly treat mining? Is it about gaining wealth? Each gram is sold at Php900, which I think isn’t really that much and it isn’t commensurate to the amount of work they put in to be able to produce gold.

In scriptures, there is a passage in Sirach 2:5 that says: “For in fire gold is tested, and the chosen, in the crucible of humiliation.”

Would this be true as well in real life?

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A Film based on True Accounts.

Despite the dangers that would put the production and the artistic team of this said movie, it still managed to make it as one of the official entries of the ongoing Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) 2016. Perhaps, the story’s relevant issue had caught the selection jury to include the movie that is based on a 2014 massacre of four miners in Barangay Gata in Caramoan.

At first glance, what would an ordinary Filipino be concerned with the said case on the murder of four local miners and 21 suspects masquerading as environmentalists? Definitely, this is not an action flick, but rather a simple story about small group of people who have simple dreams and were shattered because of such tragedy that enveloped them with fear.

Forget about mining as a lucrative source of livelihood. This isn’t the case in the people of Gata. Headed by the community’s barangay captain named Mercy (Irma Adlawan), which was forced to secure a permit from the governing agency to allow his townsfolk to continue mining, but eventually had to fight for justice for the deaths of four of his miners after being gunned to death by armed men who took over the operations of the community’s small-scale mining.

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Everyone Must Know!

It may sound very elementary, but clearly when one see something that ‘glitters’ like gold—he or she is easily blinded to it. And this film spotlights how people become avaricious over things and in this case, the said armed environmentalists wanted to grab the ‘little’ that the Gata community has in order to live hand to mouth.

Moviegoers are also reconditioned that gold may not be always the source of greed, but it is the man’s nature to desire material possessions and that blinds him to commit unthinkable crime[s].

It is painful to witness how a love that blossomed between Elmer (Joem Bascon) and Linda (Mercedes Cabral) with simple dreams of raising their future family together was tragically separated by four deaths. Apart from them, the rest of the Gata community have never perceived mining as a real money-making venture, but just a plain and small-time livelihood.

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Was the tragedy something to be left aside and forgotten because these people were suspected of not knowing the law on environmental concerns? Which is more important—the offense or the lives taken away because of greed?

A Film with Great Actors.

To effectively bring life to the characters in the story, (which the producers have intentionally changed the names from the real individuals involved)—the likes of Adlawan, Bascon and Cabral were chosen to lead the cast members.

Adlawan and Bascon, who were not the first choices for the roles (originally the roles were offered to Ms. Nora Aunor and Piolo Pascual) did well in giving justice to the characters assigned to them and could very well earn them not just nominations but the plum awards as Best Actress and Best Actor in the ‘Gabi ng Parangal’ of the MMFF 2016.

Cabral also shined her brilliance in acting especially when she had to look at her supposed to be husband Elmer inside a casket. It will definitely pierce the hearts of the moviegoers.

All the rest of the actors in the film like Sandino Martin as Cesar, Biboy Ramirez as Lando, Arrian Labios as Roger, Sue Prado as Mrs. Razon, Acey Aguilar as well as Cedrick Juan and the rest of the cast—delivered their impressive performances.

For me, ‘ORO’ is probably the third film written and directed by Alvin Yapan that I like after ‘Ang Panggagahasa kay Fe’ (2009) and Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa’ (2011). It is produced by Feliz Guerrero and Shandii Bacolod.



Catch this highly controversial film at the MMFF 2016. For more information, visit the festival’s official website.

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