Movie review: Lola Igna

September 17, 2019

EDUARDO Roy Jr. just won the best director award in the recent Cinemalaya for the dark sex-drama “Fuccbois” for which Ricky Davao also won as best supporting actor as a closeted mayor. He now wins best picture for “Lola Igna” in the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino and also got the best actress prize for Angie Ferro in the title role, but the best director plum was given to someone else this time.

“Lola Igna” is about a 118-old woman who wants to die since she feels she has seen it all. Most of her loved ones have already departed for the great beyond and she feels left out. Her remaining grandchildren then make her join a contest for the Oldest Grandmother in the World where she could win millions of dollars. This makes her very popular and kibitzers from the city come to visit her in her lowly bahay kubo in the middle of verdant ricefields, just like Apo Whang Od, the oldest tattoo artist from Kalinga highlands.

Other people also try to make a profit from the tourists who show up to see her by selling souvenir merchandise. But Lola Igna could hardly care less about being a tourist attraction or winning the title. She shuns the unsolicited attention and just wants to be left alone. She used to be their town’s most sought after midwife or “hilot”, but she is now retired. Her only remaining relatives are her grand daughter, Nida (Maria Isabel Lopez) and her son, Bok (Royce Rivera.)

Then one day, a young man appears who claims to be her “apo sa talampakan” or great great grandson and calls him his “Lola Lola”. This is Tim (Yves Flores), the son of Ana (Meryll Soriano), the sister of Nida who left them long ago and never came back. The reconciliation of the two estranged sisters is a dramatic high point that will make you shed a tear or two. Lola Igna appreciates Tim’s company and asks him to make a coffin for her.

The film is actually a celebration of life and also of death and fragile family relationships. It’s reminiscent of similarly themed films that deal with the fragility of human life and the struggle to come to terms with mortality, like Maryo de los Reyes’ “Magnifico”, Lino Brocka’s “Inay”, Jun Lana’s Bwakaw”, or Hollywood films like “Apartment for Peggy”, and even “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  

Lola Igna has lived a full life serving their community all her life in assisting moms to give birth to their kids. But, as she sagely says, we should not be afraid of death, which for her is just the start of another journey. She wishes a dead bird and a dead friend Gusting, (Armand Reyes, in a touching cameo), the first baby she ever delivered, to have safe travels in the great beyond.

She even talks regularly to her dead husband and treats him like he is still around.

Angie Ferro is known as a highly theatrical character actress who played “mataray” roles and did movies with Lino Brocka, like “Lumuha Pati mga Anghel” and “Santiago”. She also did movies with other famous directors like Ishmael Bernal in “Bakit May Pag-ibig Pa?”, Celso Ad. Castillo in “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak”, Chito Rono in “Patayin sa SIndak si Barbara” and “Bulong” and Lav Diaz in “Ebolusyon ng Pelikulang Pilipino”.

We didn’t see her for sometime and we were shocked when we saw her again in “Kambal Karibal” on GMA-7 last year as she looks like she has aged a lot. Well, her looking ancient now works perfectly for her in playing the title role of “Lola Igna”. This is her first role as a lead actress and she inhabits the character perfectly, from the opening scene where she is shown waking up and answering the call of nature while seated  on her bedpan, to the final shot where she is seen walking in the rice fields with a newborn baby in her arms.

Giving her good support are Maribel Lopez and Meryll Soriano as her two remaining granddaughters. Then there’s Yves Flores who gives a subdued performance as Tim, who adores his Lola Lola but harbors a grudge against his own mom whose new lover he resents. He has winning screen presence and we know he’s been languishing in the ABS-CBN stables for sometime now. Here’s hoping his moving work here in “Lola Igna” will give his career a much needed push so he’d be given better roles as a Kapamilya actor.

As for Director Roy, we’re glad that after his dismal foray into mainstream romcom territory in the execrable “Last Fool Show”, he’s now back in his rightful element as a filmmaker doing more meaningful indie films like “Fuccbois” and “Lola Igna”. And here’s praying that the awards “Lola Igna” won in the PPP will help it attract more moviegoers to sustain their stay in theaters.