Laurice Guillen’s Tanging Yaman is a deeply moving story about marriage and family life. The aging matriarch Loleng (Gloria Romero) is already widowed and her children have all been married and rearing families of their own in various places. The poor yet happy family of the eldest, former prodigal son Dan (Johnny Delgado), is Loleng’s only company in lahar-stricken Pampanga whereas those of defiant Art (Edu Manzano) and of struggling Grace (Dina Bonnevie) settle in faraway Manila and the United States, respectively. When the deceased patriarch’s properties are to be sold due to Loleng’s debilitating illness, the siblings come together for the said legacy’s disposal, but the initially bitter reunion becomes an avenue for reconciliation of their problems with one another, with themselves and with the family. A lot of ideas about love, marriage and family are represented in the film. Central to this is the love of the matriarch for her tension-filled family. When the prodigal son returned for forgiveness, the mother received him. When this comeback did not crush the grudge Art held against his brother, the devout Catholic Loleng offered this all to God, sacrificing herself as an instrument in delivering a miracle to her family. It was her devastating disease that brought her children together to resolve old resentments that threaten to affect even the family’s third generation. Her self-sacrifice, then, is her ultimate showcase of love for her children torn by hatred that may be traced when her strong-willed husband was still alive. Meanwhile, ideas about marriage and family are manifested in varying degrees. Even as Dan has already spent his inheritance such that his family did not have enough to get by, he lives with the family happily. Apparently, the absence of financial comfort did not deter Dan from leading a family life full of contentment. It was a different case altogether for his brother Art, who was at the peak of success yet alienated by hate and ambition from his siblings and even his own family. He unconsciously hurt his wife and children because he could not accept that in the family he left behind, his elder brother enjoyed their parents’ favoritism to his personal detriment. Meanwhile, Grace fled to the United States after eloping with her boyfriend. Her mother objected her marriage to Francis (Joel Torre), so the elopers settled abroad where they were struggling to raise their own family. Personally, I learned a lot of things out of the issues presented in the film. First, faith works. When one has strong faith in God, as what may be seen in Loleng’s character, miracles can happen. She trusted God such that her brood became united instead of being torn further apart when she was struck by a deteriorating sickness. Second, money is not everything. It cannot serve as a measure of happiness and contentment, as may be seen in brothers Dan and Art. Dan may not have material wealth, but he lived contentedly with the only wealth he has: his family. On the other hand, Art may be rich, but his material wealth was not enough to erase the grudge of his past, which makes him and his family unhappy. Third, communication is important. Because of lack of communication, the family is estranged not only physically but also emotionally. When ultimately, the siblings come together and arrive at a confrontation, problems are revealed and that paved the way for understanding, harmony and reconciliation. Finally, forgiveness is a human necessity. As human beings, we sin like the characters portrayed in the film. Nonetheless, even God forgives, so we should find it in our hearts to forgive one another of our mutual transgressions, willed or accidental. This way, we can move on in life and become better persons in the long run.
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