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Directed by Abbo Q. Dela Cruz

Cast: Ama Quiambao, Johnny Delgado, Ronnie Lazaro, Tony Santos

100 Greatest Pinoy Films of All Time, 2013 Pinoy Rebyu Poll


Abbo Dela Cruz’s MISTERYO SA TUWA opens with a child’s baptism and the celebratory feasting, drinking, and dancing in the remote, rural town of Lucban, Quezon. Suddenly, the villagers’ uninhibited revelry is interrupted by a plane crash in the nearby mountains. As they rush to the crash site to loot the wreckage, three men (Ronnie Lazaro, Johnny Delgado, and Tony Santos, Sr.) run off with a suitcase they later discover to contain a large sum of cash. After the suitcase is reported missing, the city mayor conspires with his subordinates to steal the money from the townsmen.

MISTERYO SA TUWA (“joyful mystery”) is far from the happy tale the title might suggest. Its suitcase of money becomes a powerful macguffin setting off cycles of deception and violence. The moment of the film’s digital restoration by ABS-CBN invites another layer of meaning: a critique of capitalism and power when viewed in the current context of law and order politics and extrajudicial violence in a nation crippled by poverty. The immutable presence of greed and how much–or rather, little–trust people have in those who wield power is a familiar story regardless of the year or province.

Malou Amparo Robas