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De La Salle University Dasmariñas

College of Liberal Arts and Communications


Social Sciences Department

HIMALA: A REFLECTION

Members:
Mendoza, Christine Joyce
Prado, Loren Dorothea
Villamor, Maria Aubrey
De La Salle University Dasmariñas
College of Liberal Arts and Communications
Social Sciences Department

REED 143
HIMALA: A REFLECTION

What is HIMALA?

The setting is a small town named Cupang, a community set in an arid landscape. The
townsfolk believed that the drought they were having was a curse placed on the town for driving
away a leper years before.

During a solar eclipse, Elsa a local young woman allegedly saw an apparition of the Blessed
Virgin Mary atop a barren hill, the same place where her adoptive mother Aling Salíng found her
as a baby. Right after, she started faith healing local residents assisted by her friends, Chayong
and Sepa who eventually became part of her "Seven Apostles", including entrepreneur Mrs. Alba
. Word spread around and soon pilgrims and tourists started arriving in Cupang to visit Elsa's
house, distinguished by the big sign "Elsa loves you," to see her. At the same time, enterprising
residents of Cupang started businesses like selling religious articles, offering accommodations,
among others, capitalizing on the sudden influx of local and foreign patients and tourists.

Orly, a filmmaker, arrived in town to make a documentary about Elsa, interviewing her and
people who personally know her. Around the same time, Elsa's childhood friend Nimia, now a
prostitute, returned and established a kabaret (a sleazy nightclub/brothel) for tourists, which was
later ordered closed by the Seven Apostles.

One day, in the church's confessional, Orly revealed to the town's Catholic priest that he saw
two drugged youths from Manila raping Elsa and Chayong on the hill. The filmmaker was
holding a tremendous guilt; instead of helping the two victims, he continued capturing the
incident on film, as he needed a scoop for his struggling career.

A cholera epidemic spread throughout Cupang, with Sepa's two children dying after eating
tainted meat at Elsa's house. Chayong then hanged herself because of shame from the assault.
Authorities quarantined Elsa's house, closing it off from patients. Elsa blamed herself for all of
the deaths and decided to stop healing. Eventually, the patients and tourists stopped coming,
leaving the town the way it was before the hoopla.

Elsa started showing signs of pregnancy from the rape. Mrs. Alba concluded that it is
"Immaculate Conception" (when she really meant a Virgin birth) and proclaimed that Elsa is
truly blessed. At the exact moment, thunder started roaring in the background, followed by
pouring rain. The townspeople rejoiced and played in the rain, convinced that the miracle has
returned and that the curse was finally lifted. Mrs. Alba and the crowd returned to Elsa's house
and called out to her. She commanded her followers to call everybody to assemble on the hill.
In front of her congregation, Elsa, apprehensive at first, eventually professed that there were
no miracles, no sightings of the Virgin, and pleaded that people themselves invent gods,
miracles, curses and such. In the middle of her speech, a gun pointed towards her, was fired,
hitting her on her chest and a violent stampede ensued. The old and infirm who came to be
healed, including children were trampled upon in the mass hysteria. Injuries were everywhere.

Elsa gasped her last breath in her mother's arms, looking towards the sky while Orly and
other reporters captured her last moment on their cameras. Wailing and crying ensued after the
announcement of her death, and the crowd started gravitating towards her. As Elsa was being
taken to a waiting ambulance, her followers lifted her lifeless body overhead, in acrucifix
position, as the crowd wanted to touch her. Crowds were scampering all over the hill as they
followed Elsa down to the car. Against her husband's will, Sepa shouted to the crowd,
proclaiming that Elsa was a saint, a martyr for the world's suffering. She led the congregation in
praying the Hail Mary on their knees going up the hill as the ambulance carrying Elsa drove
away.

REFLECTION (what did we learn and realize?)

Himala is a very good film because of its achievements in the aforesaid elements. However,
what make it not only a good film but a great one are the questions it dares to ask. Celebrity,
religious hypocrisy and commercialism, poverty, and fanaticism collide in Himala. In a country
overwhelmingly spoon-fed with Catholicism, Himala dares to question the institutions and truths
we've created and challenges us to do the same. It is a story of the timeless struggle of man in his
quest to find something to believe in, it is a serious commentary on how poverty and desperation
make people cling to false idols in the hope that these can save them from their misery.

The movie somehow presented the Philippines, and the Filipino society emphasizing women
and how they are and should be treated, by showing small representations of them – the Barrio
Cupang and its community. Women and their roles in the society – both dark and bright sides–
are the foci of the storyline. Women, as depicted in the movie, are more pious than men but they
can also be more ethically evil. Their capabilities to do good or bad depend on their environment
and the things they are going through.

On a feminist view of the musicale, women are clearly shown as equally powerful to men
on both economic and religious bases. Most of the Elsa’s “apostles” and followers are women. It
might be criticizing the inferiority of women in most of the religions in the world. It is noticeable
that most of the religious leader positions worldwide is restricted to men which is being debated
until now. On the other hand, we can see that in the musical, more women are economically
successful than men. It shows that despite the physical weakness, women can be triumphant. It is
totally different from how Filipino culture looks at every woman– born to be a housewife. The
movie tackles how cruel life is for women in the world especially in our country.

She clearly presented the Philippines, and the Filipino society emphasizing women and
how they are and should be treated, by showing small representations of them the Barrio Cupang
and its community. Women and their roles in the society both dark and bright sides– are the foci
of the storyline. Women, as depicted in the movie, are more pious than men but they can also be
more ethically evil. Their capabilities to do good or bad depend on their environment and the
things they are going through.

Faith is substance. This is saying that faith is real. It is the evidence of things not seen.
Notice it didn't say "things that don't exist." They do exist. They just aren't seen.

Many people think faith is acting like something is so when it really isn't so, and if we do
that long enough, then it will become so. But that's not it at all. Faith is real.

One must be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. When
you focus on being a blessing, God makes sure that you are always blessed in abundance. The
musicale teaches a lesson that faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to
believe. God has already done everything He’s going to do. The ball is now in your success, if
you want wisdom, if you want to be prosperous and healthy, you’re going to have to do more
than meditate and believe; you must boldly declare words of faith and victory over yourself and
your family. God, our Creator, has restored within our minds and personalities, great potential
strength and ability. Prayer helps us tap and develop these powers. Therefore, belief is a wise
wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its
truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Consequently,
resist your fear and fear will never lead to you a positive end. Go for your faith and what you
believe.