Balangiga: Howling Wilderness


This is not a film by Khavn

Director Khavn

Year 2018

Lenght 115

Country Philippines

Language Tagalog

Screenplay Jerry Gracio, Achinette Villamor, Khavn

Cinematography Albert Banzon

Music Khavn

Cast Justine Samson, Pio Del Rio, Warren Tuaño

Subtitles English

Genre Epic

Balangiga, 1901. Eight-year-old Kulas and his grandfather Apoy Buroy flee town on the eve of the massacre, bringing with them a carabao, a chicken, and various provisions. Though they stick to the outskirts to avoid the Americans wreaking vengeance on the town, they find carnage wherever they go, eventually discovering a toddler screaming beside the bodies of his dead parents. Kulas ignores his grandfather’s refusal to take the child with them and names him Bola (“Ball”, the only word that the child could identify and speak).

Misfortune after misfortune befall the traveling group. Their chicken dies, Kulas’ grandfather succumbs to a snake bite, and not long after Kulas buries his grandfather, an American ambushes the two children, killing their carabao and forcing them into servitude. Kulas and Bola escape with what little is left of their provisions. They meet a kindly couple who take them in but the next day, the children find the couple have left, taking with them all of the children’s food.

Kulas and Bola live off the forest as best as they can, but Bola grows weak from disease and malnutrition. Bola dies. Kulas makes as many balls out of leaves as he can and buries Bola in them. He continues his journey weaker, sadder, less interested in making it out of town alive. But as he stood tired and starving in the forest, thinking of just curling up and waiting for death to come take him too, he sees their dead carabao, Melchora, flying. He runs after it. Rain begins to fall. Kulas drinks, dancing in joy as he plunges after Melchora who flies across the sky like a star, leading him deeper and deeper into the forest.

Khavn De La Cruz is a multi-awarded and internationally renowned filmmaker, composer, and writer. He has thirty-three features and more than a hundred short films under his belt, including Mondomanila (Rotterdam 2012), The Muzzled Horse Of An Engineer In Search Of Mechanical Saddles (Berlinale 2008), Manila In The Fangs Of Darkness (Viennale 2008), and Squatterpunk (Rotterdam 2007). Once the proprietor of the late 90s go-to place for local artists Oracafe, Khavn has been called the father of Philippine digital filmmaking. He has served as jury member at the Berlinale, Clermont-Ferrand , CPH:DOX, Jeonju, Jihlava, & Dok Leipzig film festivals and is the festival director of .MOV International Film, Music, & Literature Festival, the first digital film festival in the Philippines. Khavn has also judged in the Palanca National Literary Awards (the Philippine equivalent of the Pulitzer) and has won for himself in poetry and fiction. He has been selected thrice in the National Writers Workshop and was invited to a writing residency in Ventspils International Writers House, Latvia. Khavn has received the Dean’s Award for Literature from his alma mater, the Ateneo De Manila University, where he also has lectured about the creative process. Five of his books have been published, which includes an anthology of Philippine poetry, two poetry collections, a non-fiction compendium on new Philippine cinema, and Ultraviolins, hailed as the first postmodern book of stories in Filipino. Khavn is also an award-winning songwriter and has performed his original compositions, either as a solo pianist or with one of his three bands Fando & Lis, The Brockas, and Vigo in places such as Thessaloniki, Austin, and Brisbane. He is the president of Kamias Road, an independent film, music, and publishing company.