Leo Tolstoy’s opening line for his acclaimed novel, Anna Karenina, posits: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” I America portrays the unhappy and complex situation of Filipino Amerasian children living in Olongapo City. Here are five things this film teaches us:
WARNING: May contain spoilers.
#1: No matter how estranged your relationship is with your parents, they are still your parents.
Filipino Amerasian children are born from a Filipino prostitute mother and an American soldier father. Not your ideal family set up, eh? But no matter how much you dislike your mother or your father for abandoning you or not taking care of you, you know deep down, they are still your parents.
#2: Beauty is not always equal to fair complexion.
We are well aware that what is often measured as the basis for beauty is one’s physical appearance. If you have a fair complexion, then you are likely to be deemed by our culture as handsome or beautiful. I America depicts how some half-Filipino, half-American children, despite being talented and good, are perceived to be inferior because of their skin complexion. In the end, you know it isn’t about who is the fairest, but the purest in heart.
#3: Be contented with what you have, where you are, and who you are with, right now.
The film revisits the still rampant “American Dream” notion among Filipinos. America is equated to having a “better life.” But we know that isn’t always true. It all boils down to accepting what you have, where you are, and who you are with right now. Unless you come to grips with the things that make you “you,” no place, no person, no situation will ever give you the “better life” you’ve always wanted.
#4: Actions have consequences.
Often people forget that their choices and actions in life will have consequences. It can be good or bad, depending on the choice made. In I America, there was a constant interplay between right and wrong choices in life and how each and every choice is accompanied by its results.
#5: The truth hurts – but it sets you free, as well.
Knowing the truth can be crippling; it is heartbreaking when you learned you’ve been fooled all these years by people you thought should have been honest with you. How you react to the truth, though, is up to you. You can choose to let it lame you permanently or set you free.
Watch Cinemalaya’s I America at Ayala Malls Cinemas, currently showing at Glorietta 4, TriNoma, and Fairview Terraces from August 19 to August 23.