by Anna Gamboa
Previously enjoyed as a series of graphic novels from Meganon Komiks by Paolo Herras and Tepai Pascual, Buhay Habangbuhay is the tale of Sandy (Iza Calzado), a housewife whose untimely death turns her into a spirit haunting her own home. Waiting for her husband Joel (Jake Macapagal) to also cross over in due time, Sandy eventually becomes acquainted with a mischievous older entity (Ricci Chan) haunting the house.
But, of course, life gets in the way. Joel remarries, and his wife Cecile (Meryll Soriano) moves in, and they have a son – Christopher, who in due time befriends Sandy. And when Joel passes away unexpectedly, both the living and undead are left adrift in grief. Surprisingly, it is Sandy who becomes the self-appointed guardian spirit of little Christopher and his mom, ensuring that life indeed goes on.
Not a lyrical moment on the screen is wasted, as director Paolo Herras gives this passion project 200% effort. Followers of the graphic novel series will love the visual references faithfully reproduced onscreen, and the cast members perfectly embody the spirit (yes, I went there) of their print counterparts.
A story about love, finding yourself, letting go, and forgiving – a handkerchief or a big pack of tissues is a must when watching Buhay Habangbuhay – especially for anyone who lost someone who loves them, and still feels that love expressed everyday, because they will recognize that bit of truth found in this film.
Buhay Habangbuhay is the CineFilipino film not only worth watching again, you’ll want to get your hands on its DVD (if it ever gets released *coughtakemymoneyanddoitguyscough*) with special features like behind the scenes commentary from Pascual and Herras, storyboard art visuals, a music video featuring Pearlsha Abubakar-Quebral’s vocals and theme for the film, and scenes from the movie side by side with images from the novel. It’s a story that successfully transcends its original medium – and achieves new life on film.
The CineFilipino Film Festival will be at UP Diliman’s Cine Adarna on April 18 to 23, 2016. Both volumes of the Buhay Habangbuhay graphic novel from Herras and Pascual will be sold at Summer Komikon this Saturday, April 16, at the Bayanihan Center.