In time for Chinese New Year tomorrow, here are hit Philippine movies from previous years that tackle or highlight Chinese superstitious beliefs or tradition.
‘The Ghost Bride’
Director Chito S. Roño released the film “The Ghost Bride” in 2018 which is about Mayen (Kim Chiu) who is willing to do anything for her loved ones.
To save her family, which includes her ailing father (Robert Seña) from ending up homeless, Mayen agrees to accept the offer of a Chinese matchmaker (Alice Dixson) for a huge amount of money. That is, Mayen must submit herself as a Ghost Bride to a wealthy but dead Chinese man.
“Ghost weddings are said to be set up by the family of the deceased and performed for a number of reasons, including the marriage of an engaged couple before one member’s death, to integrate an unmarried daughter into a patrilineage, to ensure the family line is continued, or to maintain that no younger brother is married before an elder brother.”
Similar practice has been noted in France, and also in South Sudan.
Some 16 years before “The Ghost Bride,” Chito also dipped finger into Chinese tradition via “Feng Shui” starring Kris Aquino.
The story of the movie centers on a cursed Bagua mirror wherein a person gets killed if they stare into it. The death are related to their Chinese zodiac sign. The movie was so successful it had a sequel released a decade later.
Feng Shui, also known as Chinese geomancy, is a traditional practice originating from ancient China, which claims to use energy forces to harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment. It is said that the term feng shui literally translates as “wind water” in English. This is a cultural shorthand taken from the passage of the now-lost Book of Burial recorded in Guo Pu’s commentary.
Among the foundational concept of the belief is Bagua, eight symbols used in Taoist cosmology to represent the fundamental principles of reality, seen as a range of eight interrelated concepts. Each consists of three lines, each line either “broken” or “unbroken,” respectively representing yin or yang. Due to their tripartite structure, they are often referred to as Eight Trigrams in English.
However, in the film, Bagua mirror is depicted as a powerful feng shui cure which, if misused, might invite bad luck or negative aura.
‘Mano Po’ (film series)
The seven-installment series focuses on the ways and traditions of the Chinese-Filipino community.
Released by Regal Entertainment, these are “Mano Po (2002),” “Mano Po 2 (2003),” “Mano Po III: My Love (2004),” “Mano Po 4: Ako Legal Wife (2005),” “Mano Po 5: Gua Ai Di (2006),” “Mano Po 6: A Mother’s Love (2009),” and “Mano Po 7: Tsinoy (2016).”
One of the movies, for example, incorporated in the story traditional Chinese marriage versus marriage in modern China. Several others were partly shot at Great Wall of China, at the Forbidden City in Beijing, and in Shanghai.
This movie released in 2002 highlighted the “professional mourning occupation” said to be practiced in China and other Asian countries.
The use of professional mourners brings a certain religious and historical application to funeral processions in that wailing loudly encourage others not to be embarrassed to join in.
In the movie, Stella (Sharon Cuneta), Rhoda (Hilda Coronel), and Choleng (Angel Aquino) were hired by a kindhearted Chinese businessman Wilson Chua (Eric Quizon) to cry at his father’s weeklong wake.
The movie won Best Picture at the 2003 Metro Manila Film Festival. It was also submitted for consideration to the 77th Academy Awards for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film though it didn’t make the cut.