William Arthur Ward (1921-1994), a former American writer once said, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
The film ‘Maestra’(An Educator) which was written by Archie Del Mundo, directed by Lemuel Lorca and produced by Dr. Carl Balita—provides its audience the definition of what really makes a good teacher.
Most students when they grow up, the memories of their teachers will either fade away or linger on. But pretty sure, this movie will give more reasons for students to put more worth on teachers.
The award-winning film ‘Maestra’ that won recently in the Five Continents International Film Festival in Venezuela featured three award-winning actresses of different generations—Ms. Gloria Sevilla, Ms. Angeli Bayani and Ms. Anna Luna.
This Lorca-helmed film had its world premiere in August this year at Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, but this could have been given more exposure at the time as opposed to another teacher-themed film that was exhibited back then.
Despite it being an advocacy-centered movie—it succeeded in telling stories of three women—Iah, Gennie and Espie; intertwined together. They are not the usual teachers in a private school setting; but they are flawed individuals that have backstories to present for the audience to draw inspirations from.
Imperfectly Perfect Characters.
Iah (Luna) is a daughter of a poor fisherman from Romblon. But what is admirable about her is that even if she had to sacrifice stuff (like having fish crackers as viand during her breaks) and endures with her worn out shoes just to be able to attend her classes.
That scene where she graduated cum laude even if her grades suffered because of some school standing requirements that were not met. The scene where Iah and her family hugging each other because of one victory is moving enough to show that poverty is not and must not be a reason for anyone to give up on one’s dream.
If the moviegoers get overwhelmed by the struggles that Iah have gone through; wait till they witness what Gennie (Bayani) had to put up her battles as a teacher. She is an aborigine and one of the Aetas in the mountains of Zambales who dreamt of becoming a teacher and is helping her fellow Aetas to be educated. Despite her status—she failed a couple of times in the licensure examination for teachers; not once but four times—still she managed to go on teaching. Gennie’s life is reflective of the passage in Scriptures that says: “But she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” (Luke 21: 4b)
Lastly, Ms. Espie (Sevilla) who has dedicated almost whole of her life in teaching and defines teaching not as a mere profession but ‘devotion’. She is not a perfect mother as she has somehow been away most of the time from her children because of her commitment to teach. She taught in high school for 42 years and then another 20 years in a university. Her dedication never wavered.
Lorca and Del Mundo: A Great Tandem.
Though the part of Ms. Espie had been edging towards being ‘preachy’—Del Mundo was able to contain it and was able to show a scene that allowed the mother and daughter (played by real-life mother-and-daughter—actresses Gloria and Suzette) sort out why their relationship have become strained. The conversation of two women paved the way to listen to where they are both coming from.
Lorca, the director succeeded in showing the key to a better relationship is through listening, understanding and acceptance. Perhaps the filmmaker’s mother as a teacher has given him that sensitivity to approach the characters well as human as possible.
Though the characters are based from real individuals—both the director and the screenwriter created a way to tell a story that is seamless and dramatically intersect the three lead characters meet and work together to achieving a common goal—to be a good teacher.
Another brilliant thing that Lorca did was the insertion of an actual blasting of landmines while Gennie walked on foot just to get to the school she teaches.
It’s About Time.
There were a lot of attempts to present similar types of advocacy films in the past, but this one didn’t have to create a more controversial title. It only had to capitalize on what it really wanted to convey that teachers are humans, too.
Students may see them as authorities inside the classroom, but in reality—they also suffer. However, amid those struggles—being a teacher is somebody that the Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957) describes as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.
The film is timely enough to salute teachers because they truly make a difference in all humans who have gone to school and received knowledge from them.
The three actresses are just perfect for the roles assigned to them and hopefully through their effective portrayals—it will awaken that sense value for teachers and will inspire more younger generation to pursue teaching as a profession.
‘Maestra’ is set to have its commercial release on December 8 and 9 via FDCP’s Cine Lokal assigned theaters in partnership with SM Cinemas. There are eight SM theaters that will show the film simultaneously—in SM Megamall, SM Manila, SM Sta. Mesa, SM Mall of Asia, SM North EDSA, SM Fairview, SM Southmall and SM Bacoor.