‘Pisay’ in Amsterdam

Have you seen “Pisay”? I was supposed to watch it last week in a theater here in Amsterdam, but failed to do so because of a two-day company meeting I had to attend. Tough luck! Anyway, try watching it. I heard we all can relate to this film, which documents the travails of a group of high school students. The film was directed by Auraeus Solito, the same guy behind the award-winning “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros”.

Here’s the film’s synopsis, sent to me by a friend whose life story was one of those featured in the movie:

“Pisay”, directed by Auraeus Solito PSHS ’86, with the script written by Henry Grageda, PSHS ’86, a finalist at the 2007 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, is a story about eight students who make it to the premier science high school during the politically volatile ’80s in the Philippines as they come of age in a time filled with excitement, conflict and change.

These students find the world outside, with the chaos of the end of the Marcos dictatorship erupting into the People Power revolution in 1986, being replicated within the school as they struggle to graduate, contend with teachers, classmates, family, school officials, and a new classification system to segregate students into two groups based on their academic ranking. It chronicles their journey of self discovery as they go through the joys and pains of adolescence.

Adapted from real stories of Batch ’86, It tells of Rom, brilliant son of a fish vendor and an overseas contract worker; Wena, daughter of the landowning Ledesmas; Mat, the pudgy, amorous provincial champion who has trouble in math; friendly Minggoy, who always seems to get himself involved with everything; Liway, daughter of anti-dictatorship activists; Andy, the listless cadet military trainee; Daki, the science genius; and Euri, the boy with artistic flair trapped in a Science High School.

They were among the top two hundred students from all over the Philippines who passed the examination for the Philippine Science High School, which was created for the purpose of giving an education highly enriched in the Sciences and Mathematics to exceptionally gifted Filipino children. “Pisay” is the nickname created by the students to their school; an abbreviation of Philippine Science or Phil Sci. Selected from the best and brightest from all the Philippines, they endure college-level courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics. Those who can make it are hailed as the future science and technology leaders of the country, those who don’t are deemed unfortunate victims of natural selection. Their stories are woven around the four years of veritably the most advanced curriculum in the country at the time – and their relationships with each other, their teachers, and ultimately, the school and its social milieu and the country. It speaks of choices the students have to make, priorities they opt to undertake and the realities of life they have to contend with.

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