In Focus: Mamang

Mamang (Celeste Legaspi) is an old woman suffering from dementia. When she learns of her son Ferdie’s (Ketchup Eusebio) plan to work somewhere far-off, her condition worsens and she begins seeing visions of events and people from her past.

While it is predominantly comedic, it conceals a painful, melancholic core beset with the tragedies of Mamang’s life. There are gleeful moments in her glory days that we empathize with, but those are few and far between. From being separated from her true love, marrying a womanizer, to agonizing the impending parting with her son, hers has not been an easy existence. Astonishingly, this difference in tone and subject somehow works in endearing Mamang to the audience.

I’ll be honest though and say that the script feels somewhat uneven, with plot points that are largely unresolved and characters that are introduced without a proper send-off (the glutton, anyone?). There isn’t any rhyme or reason to the visions appearing, nor do they link with whatever is happening in Mamang’s real state. It all feels like a lost opportunity to have crafted something even greater. There is an issue with the cinematography as well; its heavy-handed use of color unintentionally gives away an intended twist prematurely, losing what could have been a powerful emotional beat.

But what it lacks in polish is more than made up for by the performance of the brilliant Celeste Legaspi. If the huge crowd asking for her pictures after the screening is any indication, she amazed everyone for nailing the titular character. She injects so much charm and childlike energy into her role that I don’t think any other actress would be able to pull it off. She’s more known for music and theater, but I hope we get to see more of her on the silver screen.

Directed by: Denise O’Hara
Starring: Celeste Legaspi, Ketchup Eusebio

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