In Philippine cinema, it’s easy to see that lighthearted, romance movies reign supreme. Inject a good-looking cast with some drama, and you’ve got the next blockbuster hit. In attempting to appeal to the Filipino masses, sentimental films usually fall into this cliché trap. But in director Paul Soriano’s Siargao, the average Filipino viewer can expect to be pleasantly surprised with the essence in an otherwise typical love story.
Siargao focuses on the journey towards self-discovery of two people, vlogger Laura (Erich Gonzales), who publicly turned down her YouTuber boyfriend’s on-air marriage proposal, and musician Diego (Jericho Rosales), a Siargao native who left for Manila five years ago after breaking up with his girlfriend, but returns home when his city life suddenly goes awry. The two meet and get swept up in a sweet, surf-filled friendship—that just might become something more.
With two brokenhearted people taking a sabbatical, it’s easy to see where the story can go wrong. Despite the lightheartedness of the lovey-dovey beach adventures Laura and Diego have, the film is saved by its attractive cast and stunning visuals.
True, there are times when style almost overpowers substance. It’s almost easy to forget the main point of the story with its breathtakingly beautiful backdrop. The cinematography is amazing—rippling blue waters amidst white sand beaches where couples can frolic underneath golden skies. Every shot manages not just to add to the story, but also to the film’s aesthetic.
The soundtrack is on point as well—music fuels the tale of the couple in accordance with the setting and tone. After all, Siargao swept the awards circuit with editing, cinematography, and sound wins—and it’s clearly well-deserved. It creates enough surfing paradise to awaken the inner wanderlust of viewers. There’s also several clever nods to environmental awareness within the movie. Yet what saves the film from being too much of a travel advertisement is, once again, its excellent cast.
Indeed, there’s not a role out of place when it comes to Siargao’s characters. Each of them breathes life into their parts as genuinely as the many shots of nature featured in the film. Gonzales is captivating as Laura, lighting up the screen with her sparkling eyes and vivacious smile. She delivers her lines with just the right amount of sass and sadness, cementing herself as cinema’s sweetheart. Rosales, meanwhile, doesn’t just look the part of surfer-turned-musician Diego—he also has the bravado to show for it. His is just the right balance of kindness and confidence that sets off his portrayal as leading man. Together, their chemistry carries the movie, saving it from otherwise succumbing to the insipidness of a run-of-the-mill romcom.
While it may not be the deepest or most thought-provoking film in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival roster, Siargao still succeeds on the most part at creating a likeable love story. And much like how its surfing characters choose to face their problems head-on with grace, we can learn a lot about riding the wave that is life from Siargao’s story.
Featured photo retrieved from assets.rappler.com