The 4-hour, 33-minute movie stars John Lloyd Cruz as the ventriloquist Hernando who comes home to 1950s Manila betrayed by his wife, his country orphaned by a president who unceremoniously passed away. The former political prisoner and his best friend, his puppet Ha, then join a troupe of oddballs that include a nun (Mae Paner), a sex worker (stage actress Dolly de Leon) and a young man (Jonathan Francisco) in search of gold in an island called Diwata.
The film is part of Business World and ABS-CBN News’ list of best movies of 2021. Reviewer Fred Hawson calls it a black comedy with a very steady pacing, “engaging, not boring at all.” It’s been called Lav’s strangest movie, but also his most accessible and hopeful, “often light and warm,” says Simon Petri. A love letter to bodabil, it has been described as a “profound exploration of the purpose of art and the quest to find a meaning of life when everything seems lost.”