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‘Still Human’: Perhaps the Most Moving Film about Filipino DHs

A Review: As of 2019, approximately 390,000 foreign domestic helpers (DHs) are working in Hong Kong. Majority of them come from the Philippines (213,000). The 2016 Philippine documentary film titled Sunday Beauty Queen as directed by Baby Ruth Villarama, follows a group of expatriate domestic workers in the said city as they prepare to take part in an annual beauty pageant.

In Star Cinema’s recent hit romantic-drama Hello, Love, Goodbye–it featured a portion of the beauty contest to support the character of Kathryn Bernardo. It’s a good thing that Still Human, a Hong Kong film by Oliver Chan Siu Kuen demonstrates not only the interest (but also to remind people) of those forgotten or invisible everyday heroes in the Asian region.

Siu Kuen wrote the story as well.

Though not a documentary film like the 2016 official entry of Villarama to the Metro Manila Film Festival in the same year, Still Human is still far from the commercial type of film. However, it may be classified as independent, it still has that global appeal.

The three major Hong Kong Film Awards are proofs of how beautiful the film is.

Anthony Chau-Sang Wong who took on the role of a paralyzed-and-hopeless Hong Kong man (and who needs around-the-clock care by his live-in DH) is the best actor. The helming debut of Siu Kuen is named the best new director. Filipino actress-singer Crisel Consunji, who played Leung Cheong-wing’s DH earned the best new performer.

Wong and Consunji are the two lead actors in the film. Both may not be as abuzz as Bernardo and Alden Richards in the highest-grossing Filipino film to date, they are still more effective actors in Still Human as Leung Cheong-wing and Evelyn Santos, respectively. The Hong Kong-produced film doesn’t tackle on romance, to which Star Cinema is successful in producing, but it’s more about the relationship between an employer and his employee. Scenes involving Wong and Consunji are all engaging and moving.

The moviegoers could identify Wong’s character, the loneliness, helplessness, and abandonment. Consunji, on the other hand, capitalizes on the pain of working hard and miles away from her loved ones.

The bond that both lead characters have developed while living together (as master and servant) paves the chance to know and support one another. Even with their differences at the start, compassion (is too universal) breaks their walls and makes then both vulnerable. The film proves a point that anyone in the world is capable of love, of giving unconditional love.

To watch the film, it requires the audience to carry a box of tissues. It’s a tear-jerker indeed. Without much heavy drama, the subtleties, as well as the nuances of the actors’ acting will surely qualify the film as the most moving DH film.


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