FILM REVIEW: Kampanerang Kuba’s religious rituals and miracles

Kampanerang Kuba started with Andang (Vilma Santos), a hunch back bell-ringer running away from the people in the market. She was accuse of stealing. When she got back from the church (where she lives and work), she was confronted and physically assaulted by Tateng (Celia Rodriguez) for no justifiable reason. Thankfully, Father Damian, the old sick priest intervened. He has long been her protector. Andang felt sad when she found out that Father Damian is leaving. On his absence, a young priest, Father Agaton (Edgar Mortiz) will take over. Aside from ringing the bell, Andang clean and feed the piglets (owned by Ellen and Tateng, they are the church’s caretakers). She normally eats with her bare hands while talking to her patron saint, Saint Martin. She talks and treats the idol along side the church’s bell towers like they are humans. Meanwhile, Tateng, the daughter of the head caretaker, Ellen (Patria Plata), is a sex maniac who loves to abuse Andang. She also seduce men in exchange of material things like jewelry.

One time Andang caught Tateng having sex with Crispin (Dindo Fernando) inside the church, when Tateng found out that she was around, she physically abuse her. Then the following day, while feeding the piglets, Tateng verbally abuse her. Andang retaliate and the two had mud-wrestling inside pig pen. Tateng’s mother Ellen was about to join the fight when Father Agaton arrived and intervened. The next day, a group of women arrived and accused Tateng of accepting gifts from their husband that they own. When Tateng overheard the loud complaints, she quickly went to Andang and pretended she wanted to make amends and gave her a necklace. When the group of women finally faced Tateng, she lied and told them to look for the jewelry at Andang.

The women then went to Andang and accused her of stealing. Afraid of her safety, Andang went to the church’s roof telling them that if they will not stop, she will jump. Tateng convinced Andang not to jump and that she is her friend. The trusting Andang came back and was welcome by the women with physical assaults. They tied her down with a long rope and dragged her on the ground until Crispin, who riding the horse (where Andang was tied down) reached the town’s mountain hill where he threw Andang’s lifeless body. When Andang miraculously regained consciousness, she was seen talking to her patron saint, Saint Martin. He blessed her and was able to bring her back to the church. There, she was blessed by the Virgin Mary. A holy miracle happened, flower petals falls down from the sky and holy lights beams Andang. She slowly changed from the ugly hunch back girl into a beautiful woman. As turned out she became Sandra Belmonte. A woman long gone and who were once the topic of town gossips. Sandra’s two sister found her into the church the next day. Surprised and very thankful, they brought her back to their big home. Andang now assumed the identity of Sandra. Sandra as it turned out has suitor, Roel (Ernie Garcia) who she didn’t like. She also discovered that she missed her life as Andang and now sure that she is in love with Father Agaton.

Can’t control her feelings anymore, she went to the church for the Catholic ritual of confession. And with Father Agaton, she confess her love for him. Tateng overheard this, and coerced the priest to have sex with her in exchange for her silence but failed. In retaliation, she spread this information to the town’s people. Headed by Tateng’s admirer, Max Alvarado, the priest was confronted by the angry people. The priest denied the affair. The town’s people decided to tied the priest into a post and burn him. This is because the priest doesn’t want leave the church. When Sandra who was with Roel, discovered what was happening, she luckily escape madness and went inside the church to pray to Saint Martin. Her pray were answered by the sudden ringing of the church’s bells followed by a loud thunder. It started to rain killing the fire and saving the poor priest. It was a miracle. Tateng’s sinful mind cleared and she ask Father Agaton’s forgiveness, who gladly obliged. Father Agaton then search for Sandra when her suitor Roel appeared. They both went to the church tower and saw Andang instead. The end.

Kampanerang Kuba’s convoluted long story maybe attributed to the original comics material written by Pablo Gomez. A good director should iron out all the unbelievable plots specially all the one-dimensional characters. For example, Celia Rodriguez character, Tateng. She is so masochistic that viewer might wonder why she is so mean. Also, with her tower-nesque beauty, why she decided to remained in a town where everything seems to be so trivial and everyone seems loves to gossip, even the men. Nilo Saez (with Jose Flores Sibal wrote the script) failed miserably in this regard. Shot in Nagcarlan Laguna, Kampanerang Kuba showcased the old Filipino beliefs in patron saints, religious rituals and miracles. It also demonstrates that people can be so cruel, can passed judgement, and can asked for forgiveness that quick when confronted with truth. All will be forgiving without taking into account all the harm that they have done. In the real world, these people will be punished. Celia Rodriguez seems to be wooden in so many scenes but equally infuriating when she started to do her verbal and physical abuse of Andang. With limited dialogue, a young Dindo Fernando portrayed Tateng’s lover convincingly. All the other supporting roles including Perla Bautista, Ernie Garcia and others gave forgettable performances. About the two main lead, Edgar Mortiz and Vilma Santos, both did what they can to portrayed their respective roles. Edgar Mortiz seems to be trying very hard to be effective as the priest but acting is clearly not his forte. Would this be different if Jay Ilagan did this role? Vilma Santos succeed more with her solo scenes, talking to the patron saints and the bell tower, eating with her bare hands and trying to beautify her ugly face. She appeared to be gearing up for more versatile roles that requires her not to sing but to act. – RV

RELATED READING:
Kampanerang Kuba (1974)
Pinoy Classics Review: Kampanerang Kuba (1973)

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Filmography: Kampanerang Kuba (1974)

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Basic Information: Directed: Nilo Saez; Story: Pablo S. Gomez; Screenplay: Nilo Saez, Jose Flores Sibal; Cast: Vilma Santos, Edgar Mortiz, Celia Rodriguez, Dindo Fernando, Rosanna Marquez, Perla Bautista, Max Alvarado, Ernie Garcia, Tony Santos, Jr., Patria Plata, Metring David, Greg Lozano, Joaquin Fajardo, Steve Alcarado, Romy Luartes, Francisco Cruz, Carmen Romasanta, Danny Rojo, Edwin Cruz, SOS Daredevils, P I Boys; Executive producer: Espiridion Laxa; Original Music: Tito Arevalo; Cinematography: Benjamin L. Lobo

Plot Description: Kampanerang Kuba (lit. Hunchbacked Lady Bellringer) was a fantasy soap opera television series broadcast by ABS-CBN in the Philippines. It was inspired by 1973 film with same title, which was starred by Vilma Santos and Bobot Mortiz. It was tagged as Pinoy Disney. It was originally based from a comic book series written by Pablo Gomez. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: Film adapted from comics written Pablo S. Gomez; Illustrated by Alex Nino for Planet Komiks, 1971; Remade into TV series in 2005 by ABS-CBN and starring Anne Curtis, Luis Manzano, Jomari Yllana with Edgar Mortiz and directed by Wenn Deramas, Andoy Ranay.

Film Review: Kampanerang Kuba’s convulated, long story maybe attributed to the original comics material of Pablo Gomez. A good director should ironed out all the twists and turns and all its one-dimenssional characters. For example, Celia Rodriguez character, Tateng. She is so masochistic that it is just right to know why she is so mean and that with her towernesque beauty, she decided to remained in the town where everything seems to be so tribial. Nilo Saez (with Jose Flores Sibal adapted the script) failed miserably in this regard. Shot in Nagcarlan Laguna, Kampanerang Kuba showcased the old Filipino beliefs in patron saints, religious rituals and miracles. It also demonstrates that people can be so cruel, can passed judgement, and can asked for forgiveness that quick when confronted with truth. All will be forgiving without taking into account all the harm that they have done. In the real world, these people will be punished. Celia Rodriguez seems to be wooden in so many scenes but equally infuririating when she started to do her verbal and physical abuse of Anda. With limited dialouge, a young Dindo Fernando portrayed Tateng’s lover convincingly. All the other supporting roles including Perla Bautista, Ernie Garcia and others gave a forgettable performances. About the two main lead, Edgar Mortiz and Vilma Santos did what they can to portrayed their roles. Edgar Mortiz seems to be trying very hard to be effective as the priest but acting is clearly not his forte. Would this be different if Jay Ilagan did this role? Vilma Santos succeed more with her solo scenes, talking to the patron saints and the bell tower, eating with her bare hands and trying to beautify her ugly face. – RV, (READ MORE)

“Despite of (or perhaps because of) her hideous appearance, she is held dear by the parish priest Padre Damaso but abhorred by the church caretaker, Edeng who maltreats her at every opportunity. Andang is ugly, ugly, ugly and deserves all the pain she can get…don’t think Mang Martin will give the miracle for free. Vilma emerges as the ugly hunchback Andeng! Sandra is gone! Death to fantasy!…” – Silver Screen Surfer, (READ MORE)

Feast for Eyes, Soul – “With only a little over an hour spent on the road, Lenten pilgrims can explore the heritage churches of Laguna province for the traditional “visita iglesia” (church visit) today. Laguna has 86 Catholic churches, 26 of these built between the 16th and 19th centuries. The churches give pilgrims glimpses of the Catholic faith’s beginnings and its role in the spiritual and cultural development of Laguna. Jerry Gaela, 51, a parish priest administering St. Paul the First Hermit Cathedral in San Pablo City, said that while visita iglesia was not a required practice among Catholics, it was “additional devotion for personal and spiritual growth.” Visita iglesia is traditionally done on the night of Maundy Thursday when the Blessed Sacrament is displayed in the churches. People used to visit seven churches, but now, they would go to as many as 14 churches and pray at the Stations of the Cross. The spirit is “to accompany the Lord in his Passion,” Gaela said. These are seven of Laguna’s heritage churches worth a visit today…San Bartolome Apostol Church, Nagcarlan town, The baroque church, 15 km from San Pablo, was first built in 1583 using light materials. It was in 1752 when the second church was built from stone and brick. However, the structure was damaged by a fire in 1781. A choir loft was added when the church was rebuilt in 1845 by Rev. Vicente Velloc, who also built the nearby Nagcarlan underground cemetery. The church was featured in the 1974 film, “Kampanerang Kuba,” starring now Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto, and the film’s 2005 television remake of the same title, starring Anne Curtis…” – Kimmy Baraoidan, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 13 April 2017 (READ MORE)

Filmography: Vilma and the Beep, Beep, Minica (1974)

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Basic Information: Directed: Romy Susara; Story, screenplay: Nilo Saez; Cast: Vilma Santos, Nick Romano, Romeo Miranda, Ramil Rodriguez, Rudy Fernandez, Max Alvarado, Angelo Ventura, Joaquin Fajardo, Elizabeth Ramsey, Renato Robles, Ruben Ramos, Romy Luartes, Romy Medalla, SOS Daredevils; Original Music: George Canseco; Cinematography: Tommy Marcelino

Plot Description: No Available Data

Film Achievement: No Available Data

Film Review: “…She was also a hit in “Dyesebel” and the thrillers “Takbo, Vilma, Dali” and “Hatinggabi Na, Vilma.” She also did other fantasy films like “Phantom Lady,” “Vivian Volta,” “Wonder Vi,” and “Vilma and the Beep Beep Minica…” – Mario Bautista (READ MORE)

“…Rodolfo “Rudy” Valentino Padilla Fernandez, screen name Rudy Fernandez[1] (March 3, 1952 – June 7, 2008), also known as “Daboy”, was a multi-awarded Filipino actor and producer. He came to prominence as an action star in the Philippine cinema during the 1980s up to the early 1990s…” – Wikipedia (READ MORE)