A bus takes-off from urban Manila to the rural southeastern side of the country, carrying a group of mixed passengers from all walks of life, each one has a personal story to tell and they are telling it in their own voice. During the long journey, as the passengers mentally sort out their past & their future, things happen in the present, by choice or by providence, that make their journey memorable—the bus blows a tire, a song elicits tears, a butterfly causes commotion, a picture gets lost, someone's head is stoned, some hearts are broken, some mended. The bus ride poetizes the life journey and poses questions on issues of life and death and where exactly the line is drawn between free will and destiny.
I intentionally went to Cinema 3 of SM North EDSA, The Block to watch the Press Movie Screening of "Biyaheng Lupa" (Soliloquy) this film is the Grand Jury Prize winner in Digital Lokal section of 11th Cinemanila International Film Festival last October 2009. The word "Biyaheng Lupa" roughly translates to 'Travel By Land' but they opt to titled it 'Soliloquy' which I think at first is a dialect word of some sort but according to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary it's: a dramatic monologue that represents a series of unspoken reflections or the act of talking to oneself.
Biyaheng Lupa is the directorial debut of award-winning screenwriter Armando 'Bing' Lao, the one that write Cannes Filmfest entries by Direk Brillante Mendoza: Kinatay (2009) & Serbis (2008).
Armando Lao was also the writer of Pila Balde, Tuhog and Sana Pag-ibig Na, and creative consultant / script supervisor for Tirador, Foster Child, Masahista, Kubrador & Bridal Shower, which are all critically-acclaimed films.
Biyaheng Lupa is somehow a road trip movie, but it's not just shows the different scenes & places of Legazpi and the other places it passed by , it mainly features the different story of sixteen characters of the movie. The film started at dawn as a passenger bus from Timog Avenue traveled to Legaspi City in Bicol.
There are various character on the bus. Alan Paule acts as the bus conductor; Carlo Guevarra is a young deaf-mute teener who visits his mother in the province; Eugene Domingo is a mother of one, she is going to work in Oman; Andoy Ranay is a loud flamboyant gay who sells ukay-ukay who falls for Coco Martin which is going to Bicol to look for work.
Jaclyn Jose was a married woman with a secret lover which she will visit; Mercedes Cabral was a superstitious pregnant; Julio Diaz is the MLM (multi-level marketing) junkie; Angel Aquino is a nosy gal looking for real love; Archie Adamos, a man with bad odor and carries prohibited drugs (marijuana) on the bus & Peping Almojuela, an old court interpreter still haunted by the death of his wife & son.
There are some slow & somewhat yawnful scenes on the film but the best part for me is the style that each character on the said movie has it's own 'things in mind' or thought bubbles which can make them gradually identified as the film go along. I can still remember when one character blurted out "Baka manganak ako ng pusit!" :) The editing is kinda complex & somehow difficult to understand especially when simultaneous voice over dialogue of characters & other people on the bus takes place. I think it's too evident that those voices is just added on post production which makes the movie unnatural at times.
They experienced more along the trip like that checkpoint of soldiers, a butterfly entered the bus which is a sign of what will happen later & a loss of picture of Jacklyn Jose & his lover. The funny part on the movie is when all passenger did a sing-along of Kahit Isang Saglit that they viewed on a music video from the TV bus. Clearly this movie is not just made to make money, unlike those mainstream films that has poor quality. It won't win on CineManila for nothing.
Biyaheng Lupa is produced by Quantum Films and will be shown on December 2, 2009 in at least 7 movie theaters—SM Megamall, SM North EDSA, Robinson’s Galleria, Robinson’s Ermita, Gateway, Glorietta 4 and SM Cebu.