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Take It Take It
Starring: Lorna Tolentino, Albert Martinez, Glora Romero, Jiro Manio, Cherrie Pie Picache, Amy Austria, Tonton Gutierrez and Mark Gil.
Directed by: Maryo delos Reyes
Producted by: Violett Films and in cooperation with GMA

Big surprises come in little packages. In Magnifico, the little package is Jiro Manio, 9-year old veteran of 6 movies, but already with 5 acting awards. In one awards night alone, he was nominated twice for his first two film portrayals, for Batang Buwan and Mila. He was also in Mga Anghel sa Lupa, Tanging Yaman and La Vida Rosa.

Set in Lumban, Laguna, Magnifico (originally entitled Magnifico Magikero) a film adaptation from Michiko Yamamoto’s 1st prize script from the 2001 Film Development Foundation. Its backdrop is befitting for a subplot of a community of various concerns. Magnifico (Manio) is the pure-heart, strong willed kid who acts as the cord that binds the lives of a lola (Gloria Romero) who has cancer, and of his own loving parents (Albert Martinez and Lorna Tolentino). Both have been hard luck with children who are either intellectual but useless, (Danilo Barrios being a dropout), someone who is mentally slow but street smart, Magnifico. There is also, Ellen, (Isabella De Leon) stricken with Cerebral Palsy.

The characters adding texture to the story are a bevy of acting awardees, Celia Rodriguez as the witchy cemetery custodian, Mark Gil as the brooding bus driver, Amy Austria and rival Cherrie Pie Picache and Tonton Gutierrez as the employer with double standards. Introducing is the producer’s youngest daughter, Girlie Sevilla, who ably plays the love interest of Barrios.

As the storyline progresses, Magnifico touches lives of all the characters to the point that he becomes a big part of them in the end. The quality of Maryo de los Reyes’ direction is shown from the script, the timing of the dialogues (with a lot of quiet moments), the use of several film texture, to the use of symbols, all prevalent in foreign films which rake in awards in film festivals. The symbols of death and the child’s obsession to it, the symbol of money as the solution to all problems, the town fiesta and the “peria” (carnival) are all strokes of genius under de los Reyes’ helm.

Rated B but endorsed by the former DECS, rejected by the recent Metro Manila film festival, produced with a 25-million peso budget from a producer whose last product was a bomb out, Cass and Cary, is a film worth seeing by all Filipinos. In fact, if you think you’d skip through February not seeing the film, more people outside of the Philippines will enjoy it pa, as it is to be previewed in this May’s prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

If there’s one film that has started the year right for the Philippine movie industry, its got to be “Magnifico”.