Affecting drama "Ways of the Sea" introduces a strong new talent in director-writer Sheron R. Dayoc.
Casting a revealing light on the dreams of undocumented Filipino workers who make a dangerous crossing from Mindanao to Sabah in Malaysian Borneo, as well as on their economic plight, affecting drama “Ways of the Sea” introduces a strong new talent in director-writer Sheron R. Dayoc. Managing to suggest a lot with very little, this skillfully crafted gem has already played top festivals in Asia, and is starting its European tour. Human rights events and specialty broadcasters should take note.As a microcosm of humanity gathers on a makeshift dock in Bongao, Tawi Tawi, to await passage on a leaky banca, their backstories are revealed through brief scenes and character traits. The group includes a pair of Badjao siblings (Aljimar Hajijol, Arnalyn Ismael), a brassy, middle-aged, Visayan prostitute (Maria Isabel Lopez), a beleaguered pimp (John Arcilla) and his unsuspecting protegee (Ross-Ann Dalkis). The uncomfortable nighttime voyage fills pic’s second half, including a refueling stop where the shocked young woman gets an early taste of her fate. Sensitive handheld lensing includes some seafaring shots of painterly beauty. Sparse but well-used score featuring percussion and folksongs effectively underlines climactic and emotional moments.