Short Film Review: Putot (Small Fry)

, by Janine M.

Putot (Carl Taylan), the titular character, is a young boy who takes care of his mentally ill father while struggling to make ends meet by selling shellfish at an informal settlers colony by the sea. He meets a girl, Mayang (Karen Pilapil), a few years shy of womanhood, and forms a friendship with her. Mayang has secrets of her own that she whispers to the sea. It is implied that she is being peddled by her own mother and abused by her father figure. This short film is a simple presentation of poverty, realistic but without gore, as it wasn't necessary to make it effective. 

Putot is a Visayan term for small. Putot represents the small, marginalized sector of our society, pushed further to the "laylayan" (as popularized by the current VP), even by the men hired to demolish their houses. A scene shows that the demolition was necessary to pave the way for a development project of the then president, GMA. In the end, we are not sure what happened to Putot's father, though it is implied that "he chose to be with the sea". There is also uncertainty in the direction Mayang and Putot are taking in their makeshift raft, but there is comfort and solace in their friendship to make up for that uncertainty.

Mayang's parting line was, “Putot, malapit na ba tayo (Putot, are we there yet)?” Are they going towards the place Putot heard was better to live in? Will they ever get there? The line was a brilliant metaphorical question to the modern day Filipino. Will we ever get there?

Putot won Best Director (Emmanuel “Jeck” Cogama)/Short Feature Category in the 2006 (2nd) Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival.


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