Cinemalaya’s ‘Bagahe’ is heavy with the weight of female OFWs’ trauma and abuse

August 15th, 2017

On the flight back home, an overseas worker carries an excess baggage, not just of her belongings, but also a pack full of unwanted memories and secrets.

One of the full-length films screened at this year’s Cinemalaya Film Festival was Bagahe (The Baggage) which centers on a woman named Mercy Agbunag (Angeli Bayani) who went under investigation after she allegedly left a baby in an airplane’s trash bin.

True to its title, Bagahe, shows the viewers the baggage—the pressure, the burden, and the memories—every Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) carries in and out of the country. For most Filipinos, going abroad is an opportunity for a better career, better salary, better life. And like other Filipinos, Mercy decided to leave the country and work abroad in the hopes of fulfilling her dreams.

But unlike those who were fortunate enough to come back home with balikbayan boxes and a baggage full of pasalubong, Mercy went home carrying an excess baggage — the fruit of all the terror she’ve been through — that she tried to get rid off.

She faced public scrutiny. People wanted her to be sacked and demanded death penalty as justice for the crime she committed. Ironically, while the protagonist is named Mercy, the film also questions the audience’s perception of mercy in cases similar to that of the protagonist. Is she a criminal? Is she a victim? Or is she both?

Mercy is a woman who made a terrible decision in her life because of the horrible things that happened to her. It may be inexcusable for her to abandon an innocent baby in a trash bin, but what people should see is that she’s also a victim who suffered abuse and trauma.

And like many other women who went through what Mercy experienced, they carry all their baggage alone—as heavy as it may be. As a nation condemns them for being silent, yet judges them before they even try to speak up.

Bagahe, written and directed by Zig Dulay, won Best Screenplay during the awards night last August 13 and Angeli Bayani’s stellar performance as Mercy made her the Best Actress for the full-length film selection category.

Bagahe was screened at Ayala Malls Cinemas (Glorietta 4, Greenbelt 1, TriNoma, Fairview Terraces, U.P. Town Center, Solenad and Ayala Center Cebu) during Cinemalaya 13’s run on August 5-13.

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