If you want to revisit a classic and experience a fine piece of storytelling, ‘wag palagpasin ang ‘Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising,’ isa sa mga obra ni Mike de Leon. Ang dreamy ng look at feel; bigla mong mami-miss ang Baguio of bygone years (‘yung walang traffic at napaka fresh pa ng hangin). It’s a far cry from the kilig rom-coms and hugot-quote compendiums we’ve grown accustomed to in recent years. Thank God.
SYNOPSIS: Set in Baguio City, this Mike de Leon masterpiece follows a musically inclined college student who falls for a married young woman vacationing from Manila. As their friendship starts blossoming into romance, the two slowly uncover startling truths about each other’s pasts.
DIRECTOR: Mike de Leon
WRITER: Mike de Leon & Rey Santayana
GENRE: Drama, Romance
CAST: Christoffer de Leon | Hilda Koronel | Bibeth Orteza | Laurice Guillen | Danny Javier | Buboy Garovillo | Moody Diaz
Regardless of which genre he chose to tackle, direk Mike de Leon will always be known for his eagle-eye precision. It didn’t matter whether he was helming thrillers (‘Itim,’ ‘Kisapmata’), social commentaries (‘Batch ’81,’ ‘Sister Stella L’), or musical comedies (‘Kakaba Kaba Ka Ba?’); his storytelling was always on point. That skill was brilliantly manifested in his second feature, the poignant and beautifully shot ‘Kung Mangarap ka’t Magising’ (1977).
This coming-of-age film starred Christopher de Leon and Hilda Koronel, who had previously worked together in Mario O’Hara’s ‘Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang’ (1974). It was a critical period for both stars. Boyet had just reached matinee idol status, while Hilda had just appeared in two consecutive Lino Brocka blockbusters—’Maynila sa Kuko ng Liwanag’ (1975) and ‘Insiang’ (1976). Thankfully, the risk paid off. The Boyet-Hilda tandem went on to top bill more films, including ‘Sugat sa Ugat’ (1980), ‘Kasal?’ (1980), and ‘Beloved’ (1985), just to name a few. As for KMKM, it earned Gawad Urian trophies for Best Music (Jun Latonio) and Best Sound (Ramon Reyes and Luis Reyes) in 1978.
Fast forward to 2016, and KMKM returns to the big screen as part of this year’s REELive the Classics line-up. Now on its second year, this joint effort between ABS-CBN’s Film Restoration Project and Power Plant Cinemas aims to re-introduce restored classics to a modern audience via a week-long festival.
The restoration truly brought the visual goods; deserving talaga na ma-digitally remaster. Today’s viewers can now better appreciate De Leon’s original intention, which was to make everything look and feel like a dream.The color-coordinated outfits complemented the setting’s natural palette, while a more innocent Baguio City with its fabled fogs and pines is the perfect backdrop to the trance-like atmosphere needed to tell the story of two characters running away from reality.
Joey (Boyet) is an easy-going college student and frustrated songwriter. Whenever he’s not whining about his mundane university life (voiceover pa talaga!), he likes jamming with his slacker friends (Danny Javier and Buboy Garovillo; 2/3 of Apo Hiking Society, basically) and chatting with his plucky landlady (Moody Diaz). He still cares about his school requirements, of course. Except, he prefers to pass on his term paper duties to his jilted admirer Nanette (Bibeth Orteza; na super panalo, you’d wish she had more scenes).
The plot thickens when Joey meets Anna (Hilda), a beautiful but reserved Manileña who’s visiting her cousin, faculty member Cecile (Laurice Guillen, fun in a wisecracking kunsintidora role). Joey immediately pursues Anna, notwithstanding the fact that she’s an unhappily married young mom. The two quickly develop a close friendship cue ulan cue iconic umbrella scene. However, as their feelings grow stronger, they’re reminded of the harsh realities that hinder them from becoming more than friends. Ramdam na ramdam ang tension at restraint all through out, thanks to Mike de Leon and Rey Santayana’s earnest screenplay.
A far cry from the kilig rom-coms
and hugot quote compendiums
we’ve grown accustomed to
in recent years
Music is an integral plot point in the film. Most of the story is built around Joey struggling to finish a song, which also serves as his character’s theme (sounds like an Apo B-side, actually). Another restored element is the evocative original score, which was inexplicably replaced in early foreign screenings. Sadly, the reinstated music tends to overpower the entire sound mix, causing some parts to play like a promotional music video. Sayang. Some bits are also creaky by today’s standards. That picnic preparation montage, in particular, feels like a 70s TVC.
Luckily, those minor quirks don’t deduct much from the overall experience. The film still owes much of its strength to its versatile lead performers. Boyet effectively pulls off sheepish torpe charm, but also delivers intensity in his moments of pining. Hilda, on the other hand, illuminates every scene she’s in and her vulnerability is always spot-on.
As a love story, ‘Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising’ is a far cry from the kilig rom-coms and hugot quote compendiums we’ve grown accustomed to in recent years. Buti na lang (Thank you, Lord!). It’s an honest and straightforward story about two people who cross each other’s paths and are faced with insurmountable odds. Plain and simple.
If you want to revisit a classic and experience a fine piece of storytelling, then don’t miss this Mike de Leon masterpiece. ♦
*Movie poster from https://tl.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69191.
ABS-CBN Film Restoration Project’s screening of ‘Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising’ last February 10, 2016