Lino Brocka’s Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang: A Personal Reading
Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang is a story of two social “outcasts” in a small town in Nueva Ecija. These two marginalized characters namely: Kuala, the town’s demented character is the central sensibility of the story whose life gets entangled with the town’s other characters. The second character is Berto, a leper, whose life is the symbolic signification of the community’s hypocrisy.
First , let me give you the summary.
Kuala, (played by Lolita Rodriguez) is made mad by the traumatic abortion. She walks aimlessly around town taunted by men and children. In her aimless wanderings she attracts the attention of Berto, a person afflicted with leprosy, who brings her to his nipa hut which is just adjacent to the town cemetery. Together , they make a couple far from the prying eyes of the community. Junior,(played by Christopher de Leon) a teenager who is the secret boyfriend of the town’s prettiest girl, Evangeline. It is only Junior who is able to enter the world of Kuala and Berto. In his short but memorable friendship with these two characters, he learns about human nature especially of society’s treatment of people with disabilities and deformities.(the marginalized so to speak)
Just like any typical lay organization in our local church, the Associacion de las Damas Cristianas becomes the Greek chorus who serves as the community’s censor or the “town’s judge” which dispenses what is morally right and wrong. Scandalized by the pregnancy of Kuala, the Associacion members suggested that Kuala should be under the custody of Lola Jacoba (the town’s rich matriarch and a member of the Associacion ) Junior shows up and helps the pregnant Kuala make her way back to Berto’s shack. He entreats his father to help the hapless Kuala but the latter chided his son for meddling in the life of a demented woman. The father , Cesar Blanco(played by Eddie Garcia) is a womanizing politician who is revealed to be Kuala’s lover .(He was the reason why Kuala turned mad.) When he forced her to abort their unwanted child, Kuala suffered complications that set him and the abortionist fleeing leaving Kuala to bleed and eventually lose her mind. When she is about to give birth, Kuala remembers her previous experience at childbirth which brings her back to her painful past. Kuala escapes Lola Jacoba’s mansion and runs to Berto’s house to give birth. Berto seeing her condition, rushes out to fetch a doctor . When the doctor refuses to go with him, he threatens the life of the latter and drags him to his place. Before they reach Berto’s house, the doctor escapes. In the ensuing chase, Berto is shot by one of the policemen. Junior disturbed by the commotion in their town rushes to Berto’s house and saw the fatally wounded leper. As Junior comforts his dying friend, the cries of the newborn infant are heard. Kuala’s mind clears momentarily and she recognizes Cesar among the people around her. She tells him that their baby is alive. But the memory of her previous abortion returns and she loses consciousness. Witnessed by the whole town, Junior comes out from Berto’s shack carrying the newborn child and briefly stops in front of his father looking intently at the latter’s eyes. (end of the summary)
Just as there are many ways of enjoying your ice cream and cookies , there are also multiple ways of reading this film. I will be sharing with you my personal reading and analysis of the movie both as a social science and humanities teacher.
Brocka in this movie fictionalizes his hometown, San Jose in Nueva Ecija his maternal province. With his keen eye for the absurdities of life, Brocka objectifies the nuances of small town Philippines. With its share of interesting characters—the village idiot, the mayor with his concubines ,the leprous man,(by the way, Brocka spent two years in Moluccai, a leper’s colony in Hawaii working as a Mormon...
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