As Sonata approaches its nationwide release at the FDCP Sineng Pambansa, and the reactions that people have of the trailer and our friend’s and family’s reaction to the special advanced screening, I’m getting such a strong response about how the filmmakers managed to capture the feeling and the milieu of life in the province.
As much as this is my Dad’s love letter/poem to Negros, it is also co-director’s, Lore Reyes, ode to the province that he has adopted (and who has adopted him) as his own. Yes, I was born in Bacolod, and my family are from Negros Occidental, and I can understand the language, but the truth of the matter, I’m a city boy through and through. I was two years old when my parents moved to Manila and while I did spend a few of my summers in Bacolod, by the time I hit college, I had stopped going, opting to stay in the city during summer break to be with my friends.
But Tito Lore has been going to Bacolod since the early nineties with my Dad to teach at the Negros Summer Workshop every year and he has grown roots of his own. Truth be told, Tito Lore is more Negrosanon than I am. He probably knows the language better, has seen more of it than I have, knows more people and more of the culture than I do. I only pretty much returned to Bacolod and lived there for two and a half years back in 2010 when I had gotten sick and I was told by my doctors to take a rest to recuperate. I pretty much stayed home for the better part of those years, and if I did go out, I was with family. I have friends, but not as much as Tito Lore, who has been there, outside of the Negros Summer Workshop and his connection to the land is much, much stronger than my own.
While Sonata captures an Ilonggo sensibility, these are things I picked up from stories that I was able to collect from my siblings, my cousins, my Dad and Mom, Tito Lore, and the people who work with my Dad and Tito Lore, a majority of which are graduates from the Negros Summer Workshop and come from Bacolod. I even had to fly to Bacolod for a whole week to do extra research and get a feel for the farm of cousins and family friends to be able to properly capture that connection with Negros Occidental.
My Dad and Tito Lore have been working together for most of their career that you can hardly tell which scenes were directed by whom; instead, their aesthetics have informed on each other that the film is one cohesive work by two people, and that includes the sensibility that comes with it. So, as much as my Dad has been quoted for saying that this is somewhat a return to his childhood , of growing up in the province, and how happy he is that Tito Lore can relive these moments by directing a film together that captures that feeling, Tito Lore, in his own way, manages to impress his own love for the province into the film and that is what makes Sonata the love letter/poem that it is.
I’ve likened myself to Jonjon (played by Chino Jalandoni), in that I’m the city boy who goes to the province and witnesses for the first time the beauty of the province. Apparently, the same goes for Tito Lore as well. That magic of discovery is shared by the two of us. What makes it wonderful is that Chino is from Bacolod, and yet he manages to see the country with fresh eyes; for a young man who is acting for the first time, he believably conveys the absolute awe and fascination of the world that is not Manila. I think this is why Sonata is so personal for everyone involved, without ever having to articulate it, it’s also about homecoming, and how important it is to recognise and acknowledge one’s roots. Home truly is where the heart is, and a person can have many homes, and a home is not always necessarily the place where you are born or where you live, but it is a place where you feel love and where you give love freely. It is a place that you give of yourself to because you get so much back.
I’m not a son of Negros. Not yet. I haven’t earned that right. I go back every once in a while because my Mom is there and I have a home there, but I have yet to truly give back to Negros the way it has given to me. I hope that Sonata is a worthy first step for me to truly show my appreciation for the land.
My Dad and Tito Lore, they are the true sons of Negros. Both have given so much and have been cared for by the province, in one way or another. And while my Dad can always call on family and birthright, Tito Lore astounds me more, because his roots in the country he made himself.
This is our ode to Negros.
Please watch Sonata when it opens in the FDCP Sineng Pambansa on September 11 until September 17 in all SM Cinemas Nationwide.