Baler is set on the historical event where 57 Spanish soldiers held fort in the town of Baler for almost one year during the final moments of the Spanish occupation in the Philippines. Baler is, in my eyes, a love story between Feliza, the daughter of a rebel commander, and Celso. The young couple struggle to keep their forbidden love alive despite political tensions culminating in an almost yearlong blockade known as the Siege of Baler.
Baler is definetely a period drama, and because of this, half of the script is read Spanyol and forces the masses of Filipinos to read subtitles. I admit sometimes really boring. Instead of cultivating a sense of dread, drama, or even desperation for the plight of the Spanish soldiers, the scenes were cut in a way that prevents viewers from forming an emotional attachment to the characters. Baler is a good addition to the list of Philippine war epic films, but nothing truely special.
While we are drawn to the endearing story of a classic love that knows no time, place and race, we are also glided into the historic past to take a peek on what transpired inside the walls of the church of Baler. Prior to viewing this film I knew nothing of the events portrayed. Jao Mapa did an awesome performance in his 2 minute appearance, the story in its essence was wonderful, and the scoring was brilliant.
The story premise bids fair to join those exceptional foreign films that eschew youthful blockbusters in favor of heartwarming narratives involving mature relationships. It’s films like these that need support. In the end, the movie Baler can be coined as a quality-oriented film. One thing I like about this movie is that it depicts how Filipinos were fair, honest and dedicated amidst the contentions of wars. Although poorly executed in its message, there was enough good things to walk away from this movie with to get a passing grade from me.