MMFF 2020: 'Isa Pang Bahaghari' is not just another BL story, says director Lamangan

Leah C. Salterio

Posted at Dec 25 2020 04:30 PM


MANILA -- Who can forget the team-up of award-winning dramatic performers Nora Aunor and Phillip Salvador in their earlier films -- from Lino Brocka’s “Bona” and “Nakaw na Pag-ibig” back in 1980 to Leroy Salvador’s “Tinik sa Dibdib” in 1985. 

This year, Aunor and Salvador are reunited in the 2020 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry, “Isa Pang Bahaghari.”

Not a few were excited when it was announced back in July 2019 that Aunor and Salvador would reunite onscreen after more than three decades. Forty years ago, Aunor and Salvador were first paired in Brocka’s “Nakaw na Pag-ibig.” That same year came Brocka’s “Bona,” where Aunor earned her second Urian best actress trophy, following Mario O’Hara’s “Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos” in 1976.

“Isa Pang Bahaghari” is written and megged by the award-winning MMFF 2018 tandem of “Rainbow’s Sunset” -- writer Eric Ramos and director Joel Lamangan.

Filmed back in 2019, “Isa Pang Bahaghari” went through a number of snags just to be shown. Bankrolled by Harlene Bautista’s Heaven’s Best Entertainment, the film was originally submitted to the 2019 MMFF, but failed to make it into the line-up.

Early this year, “Isa Pang Bahaghari” was chosen as one of the official entries for the Summer MMFF. However, because of the pandemic, the summer film fest was called off.

When it became all systems go for the MMFF this December, with all films to be streamed online for a worldwide audience, “Isa Pang Bahaghari” made it to the list of 10 official entries.

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SECOND CHOICE

Christopher de Leon was originally eyed to play the male lead opposite Aunor. “Christopher was doing something else last year when he was first offered the role,” Lamangan told ABS-CBN News.

Hence, the role went to Salvador, who apparently didn’t mind that he was only the second male lead considered for “Isa Pang Bahaghari.” 

He and Lamangan go a long way. They previously worked together as co-stars for Brocka films like “Hayop sa Hayop” (1978) and “PX” (1982).

Lamangan later directed Salvador in a TV drama series. “I’ve worked with Ipe a long time ago,” Lamangan said. “We’ve worked together a number of times. More recently, I directed him for TV.”

The stellar cast of “Isa Pang Bahaghari” is made up of seasoned veteran artists who delivered powerful performances.

“Si Nora ay hindi kailanman naluluma,” Lamangan said. “Palagi siyang bago. Para siyang isang wine. Habang tumatagal ay lalong sumasarap. Habang tumatanda, lalong humuhusay. ‘Yan si Nora.

“Sinamahan mo pa ng isang Phillip Salvador, na isang kilalang artista ni Lino Brocka. Ito ay muli nilang pagsasama. They’re a very interesting combination. Dito makikita natin ang kahusayan ni Ipe at ni Ate Guy, pati si Michael de Mesa.”

Maris Racal, Albie Casiño and Migs Alemandras play the roles of the young Aunor, Salvador and De Mesa, respectively. Fanny Serrano and Jim Pebanco join the cast and also turned in memorable performances.

“Isa Pang Bahaghari” is about a retired seaman, Domeng (Salvador), who returns home after more than two decades to win back his handicapped ex-wife, Lumen (Aunor). The former seaman seeks the help of his gay best friend, Rhey (De Mesa), who thought that he died 50 years ago.

For his bitter wife, however, Domeng’s “death” was only a mere excuse to abandon her and her three children. Can Domeng, with the help of his gay friend, win back Lumen and earn his children’s forgiveness?

In the film’s trailer, one scene involves Aunor and De Mesa comparing their respective love for Domeng. Lumen told Rhey, “Mas mahal mo talaga siya kaysa sa akin?” To which the latter snapped back, “Bakit, mas mahal ka rin naman niya kaysa sa akin? Kaya patas lang tayo, Lumen. Patas lang.”

Lamangan countered “Isa Pang Bahaghari” is not a BL (boy’s love) story, but the love of two men who are in their senior years and a lady who was abandoned by her husband.

The process of courting his wife again and how his friend helped him, that’s the story of “Isa Pang Bahaghari,” Lamangan said. The story shows how the wife accepted her husband again and how the children welcomed their father back into their family.

NOT A SEQUEL

Although not a sequel to “Rainbow’s Sunset,” Lamangan insisted, “Anak ito ng ‘Rainbow’s Sunset’.” However, “Isa Pang Bahaghari” also shows there is true love between gays.

“Ito’y pagpapakita na merong kahalagahan ang dalawang lalake. This is a story of love, story about relationship of heterosexual. Even homosexual, puwede ring magmahal ng tapat. Ito ay istorya ng bawat Pilipino.

 “The idea to show there is also true love between gays. We want to show mayroong ding true love between two men. Ang mga homosexual ay puwede ding magmahal ng tapat.”

“Isa Pang Bahaghari” deals with homosexuality on a higher, more mature level. It’s a different take from the usual BL stuff that has been given focus recently. The BL formula has two cute guys going together that leads to romance.

“Itong ‘Isa Pang Bahaghari’ ay pagpapakita ng kahalagahan ng pagkakaibigan ng dalawang lalaki,” Lamangan pointed out. “It shows the importance of friendship.

“Ito ay istorya ng pag–ibig. Istorya ng relasyon ng pamilya ng ama’t anak. Ito ay istorya ng bawat Pilipino at mapapanood at ma-identify nila ang sarili nila sa pelikulang ito.”

Lamangan explained ‘Isa Pang Bahaghari’ mirrors the life of a Filipino family. “Ang bawat pamilyang Pilipino ay nakaranas ng mga ganitong problema. Ang hindi pagkaka-intindihan ng ama at mga anak. Nangyayari talaga. Everyone who will watch can identify with the story.”

The director is all praise for his supporting cast members. “Napakahusay ni Zanjoe Marudo, napakahusay ni Joseph Marco, napakahusay ni Sanya Lopez,” Lamangan gushed. “Ensemble acting ang cast. No one showed ng pagka-star.

“Lahat sila nanatili sa mga character na hinihingi ng dula. Lahat sila naging tapat sa dapat nilang tungkulin sa pelikula. Mahusay na blending of old and new itong pelikulang ito.”

He also commended his producer, Harlene Bautista, who leads Heaven’s Best Entertainment. “Harlene does not only give money, but also looks into the artistic quality of the production,” Lamangan said. “She is a creative producer.”

While Lamangan is pleased that “Isa Pang Bahaghari” will finally be shown starting December 25, he cannot reconcile the fact that the film will only se seen online and not on the traditional big screen.

“Hindi ko alam kung nae-excite ako watching online,” the director honestly said. “Talagang gusto ko sa pelikula, sa teatro panoorin. ‘Yun ang kinalakihan ko. Hinahana-hanap ko ang dilim ng isang teatro at nagsasama sama ang mga taong hindi nagkikita. Pinag-iisa lamang ng sinasabing mensahe ng pelikula.”

For the first time, Lamangan will watch his film online. “Ngayon lang ako makakaranas ng online, sa streaming, although I watch films on Netflix. It’s really different when you watch on the big screen. Nothing compares to that. Sana bumalik na tayo at magkaroon ulit ng barkada.

“Nagiging mas masaya ang Pasko na nagkikita-kita ang mga nanonood at nag-uusap-usap right away pagkatapos ng panonood. Isang bagong karanasan para sa akin ang online. Hindi ko pa alam kung magugustuhan ko o hindi. Sana magtagumpay.”