Honor Thy Father — A Slice of the ‘Mundong Makasalanan’


Subject Matter: “Fundamentalist Christianity and white-collar crime in the Philippines.” [Full synopsis from the Toronto International Film Festival]

Genre: Crime / Thriller / Drama

On Titular Fathers:

  • Kaye (Meryll Soriano) honoring her father begins the unraveling of her family’s lives.  Her father runs a networking scheme in their hometown Pampanga, and she extends the network to her acquaintances in the Church of Yeshua.
  • When circumstances turn dire and the networking scheme turns out to be a scam, Edgar (John Lloyd Cruz) goes back to his roots, to a past and a family in a mining site that his wife had once asked him to leave behind. Not surprisingly, it is by returning to his past and taking up his father’s occupation that Edgar’s family finds some semblance to redemption.
  • As a couple, Kaye and Edgar’s father figure is Bishop Tony (Tirso Cruz III), man of Yeshua. Although the bishop is in the position to extend financial aid, he as well is embroiled in obligations to their religious sect.
  • Finally, Father = Yeshua. He is omnipresent in the characters’ lives, most notably through Kaye’s unwavering belief that this god will provide the way out of their material worries.

Honor Thy Father (2015), then, is so titled because we find most of the characters following in the footsteps of their perceived father figures. Ironically, it is the women’s actions – wife Kaye, daughter Angel, Edgar’s mother – that trigger the need to honor the fathers.

Spoiler: Everything only spirals downward from the first scene on. “Yeshua will provide” is the philosophy of some characters until it becomes clear that Yeshua only takes money and does not provide it.

Sound Bite: Armi Millare of local indie rock band Up Dharma Down croons the credits song of the movie. Originally performed by rock singer Sampaguita, Tao contemplates the simplicity of man’s world as punctuated by life, death, and the turmoil that unfolds in between. Kaye and Edgar’s world prove to be ‘makasalanan‘ (sinful), and not as perfect as it seems on the get-go.

Verdict: Relative to more mainstream – dare I say escapist? – samples of late from the Filipino movie industry, Honor Thy Father is a standout. Director Erik Matti will make you confront simple Filipino realities. Then again, maybe that is why not everyone will have the guts to watch this latest addition to his growing collection of eye-openers.

If you must watch it again for one reason or another, be warned that it will be just as depressing the second time around: No catharsis, no denouement, just plain and tragic reality.