by Rosy Mina
There is no small role in this entry to the 2012 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival with story and direction by Emmanuel Quindo Palo. The powerhouse cast features Coco Martin, Alessandra de Rossi, Angel Aquino, Irma Adlawan, Nanding Josef, Joe Gruta, Lui Manansala, Leo Martinez, Patricia Ismael, Rie Batingana, Dax Alejandro, and the late Anita Linda who garnered local and international awards for her portrayal of Lola Bining.
"Sta. Niña" (2012)
Directed by Emmanuel Quindo Palo
Available on iWant
It has been a decade since Marikit, the two-year-old daughter of Pol (Martin) and Madel (de Rossi), passed away. They were not able to give her a proper burial because of the catastrophic Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991.
As they were hastily evacuating with their daughter's coffin, the strong lahar flow carried the coffin away. Ten years later, the coffin was found beneath lahar deposits and to Pol's surprise, Marikit's body did not decompose.
Pol takes home Marikit's remains, and this causes a stir in his town. Soon, stories are spread and headlines are made because of the miracles that are purportedly due to visiting the wake of Marikit. A lot of sick people have been cured including Pol's Lola Bining (Linda) who has Alzheimer's disease, their neighbor, and even the provincial governor.
Coco Martin and Alessandra de Rossi in a still image from "Sta. Niña"
As the film progresses, secrets are revealed and opinions are shared with regards to morality, hypocrisy, repentance, religion, and faith. The film shows how people treat religion differently. For others, it is a source of refuge and solace while some use it to judge and discriminate. There are also those who use religion to generate income.
For those who want to start anew, is it enough to seek forgiveness or should those with grave sins do self-flagellation during Holy Week? In Pol's case, he carried the cross and went through crucifixion in hopes of paying for the misdeeds he committed in the distant past.
Coco Martin in a still image from "Sta. Niña"
Coco Martin and Angel Aquino in a still image from "Sta. Niña"
Other questions come into play about religious fanaticism and the veracity of miracles. Are granted wishes due to a faith healer's ability or power? Or are answered prayers made possible because of a patient's devout faith? All these questions are presented together with the most pressing one: Is Marikit bound to be a saint?
A gamut of emotions is conveyed convincingly by the "Sta. Niña" cast led by Martin, who is the film's producer (under his real name, Rodel Nacianceno) together with supervising producer Susan Tagle and executive producer and director Palo who wrote the screenplay with Liza Magtoto.
Alessandra de Rossi in a still image from "Sta. Niña"
De Rossi won the Gawad Urian for Best Supporting Actress while Linda was hailed as the Best Supporting Actress by Cinemalaya (New Breed Full Length category) and Golden Screen Awards. Moreover, the ASEAN International Film Festival and Awards (AIFFA) in Malaysia recognized de Rossi as the Best Actress and awarded Linda as the Best Supporting Actress.
"Sta. Niña" also bagged the AIFFA Award for Best Picture - Drama. In the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) in India, the film received the Suvarna Chakoram (Golden Crow Pheasant) award, which is given to the grand prize winner of the IFFK.
The cover photo featuring Coco Martin and Anita Linda is a still image from "Sta. Niña."
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