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Wailings in the Forest

original title: Baboy Halas

2016, 105 min., color, Matigsalug

Asia chief ethnography folklore mystery native peoples ritual tale tradition tropics Uncle Boonmee visual anthropology warriors wood life

CATEGORIES : Adventure Drama, Debut
COUNTRY: Philippines
PRODUCTION : BUDGET : 25 000 euro



Omeles Laglagan, Ailyn Laglagan, Vangelyn Panihao, Jhea Mae Laglagan


Director : Screenplay : Bagane Fiola, Bem Di Lera, Janna Moya
Cinematographer : Mark Limbaga, Raphael Meting
Producers : Angely Chi, Aleli Rodriguez, Bebe Go, Bebs Gohetia, Beulah Lawanin Laranjo, Ching Amo, Debbie Karol Butay, Glorypearl Dy, Kazami Joanne Amano, Lou Raphael Cañedo, Jay Rosas Mcrobert Nacario, Ralph Elusfa, Pawlo Pascual, Rhon De Los Santos, Rolyn Pregunta Rudolph Ian Alama, Socorro Fiola, Yam Palma


FESTIVALS: International Film Festival Rotterdam 2017, Mindanao Film Festival 2016, QCinema International Film Festival 2016, Salamindanaw Asian Film Festival 2016

Early last year, I worked on an experimental documentary film. It was during the early phase of its production that the conception of “Wailings in the Forest” was developed. On our first day of shooting in Mindanao, the southern part of the Philippines, I was fortunate to have listened to a wonderful fable told by a former rebel commander. He seemed to have mastered the art of telling the story of his Moro ancestors, passed on through a lyrical poem sang in their native tongue to each generation before it was written in Arabic in the 50’s. The first part of the fable really lingered in my mind. It is the story of the origin of their clan; how their first father was impassioned to wake up every night just to fall in love with a beautiful nymph, which only his eyes can see. To others, the nymph appears as a mere pig.
Eventually the story flourished beyond what I could imagine. Until “Wailings in the Forest” was produced, inspired by that wonderful fable.
Though “Wailings in the Forest” is a different story, I think it represents cultures beyond that of the Moros’, for boar hunting is a common practice of the Lumad (the indigenous people in Mindanao), such as that of the Matigsalug tribe.
I feel honored and excited that the film “Wailings in the Forest” will be having its international premiere in the prestigious 46th International Film Festival Rotterdam. I commend the filmmakers who, for 17 days, over 400 hours, roamed and braved the rainforest of Maharlika—one of the last forests in Mindanao—to capture beautiful and untamed stories that nature has provided us. With the blessings of Manama (god) and the guidance of the tribes people, the “Wailings in the Forest” lives on as we share it to the world.

Matigsalug tribe is one of the 18 Lumad—indigenous tribes in Davao City, Philippines. “Matigsalug” is a term which means “people along the Salug River—now called the Davao River”.

The Matigsalug, in earlier years, practiced a hunting-and-gathering lifestyle with minimal agriculture efforts. Very recently, by the influence of migrant farmers and businessmen from northern Philippines and the island provinces, the Matigsalug shifted to sedentary land cultivation with more or less permanent villages.
What remains of their earlier lifestyle is now found in their cultural and artistic expression. This is evidenced by their costume of bright colored mid-rib blouses and short skirts, and with skillful hunting and gathering techniques. This early lifestyle is also shown in their music, songs, dances, poetry, epic, and spiritual expressions.


A family of the last forest people of old copes with the unusual changes in their ancient environment, disturbed by the imposing lifestyle and customs of the tribes on the plains.


“The story itself is quite fascinating, one that blends FOLKLORE AND SURVIVAL in a setting that is both contained within the depths of a forest whose boundaries are homes to warring tribes.” – Oggs Cruz, film critic

“IMMERSIVE AND PROFOUNDLY ATMOSPHERIC providing the viewer an opportunity to inhabit not only the lush topography of the jungle but also the psychology of the characters whose existence is closely tied with nature.” – Gutierrez Mangansakan Ii, moro filmmaker

“A beguiling showcase of the lumad and their MYSTICAL ENVIRONMENT…” – Skilty Labastilla, member of young Critics Circle

“…it raises an EXISTENTIAL QUESTION for the sanity of men.” – Philip Cheah, film critic

“…it is an attempt not to exoticize the communities we endear to call ’TRIBES’.” – Tito Valiente, manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino

“It has elements of VISUAL ANTHROPOLOGY that alludes to the rhythms and detours that inhabits the film’s setting… is a powerful look at what might be the end of our indigenous ancestry — when the hunter becomes the hunted.” – Jay Rosas, film critic

“Journey to the forest, a JOURNEY TO THE PAST.”Rudolph Ian Alama, festival director of Mindanao Film Festival

“…it strives to illustrate the remains of the forgotten FOREST AND NATIVES in Mindanao.”Emil Nor Rigby, film enthusiast

“It is the ORIGINAL RARELY ENCOUNTERED in Philippine Cinema with a seemingly deliberate artlessness, with a pleasantly “feminine” or tempered instead of a crude or violent presentation of life in the forest…”Robert Cerda, film enthusiast

“LUSH AND FLUID CINEMATOGRAPHY captures the core and tedium of going through life when everything in it is fading.”Archie del Mundo, film critic

“…the film attempts to find out how a life that relies so much on the natural world is possible.”Emerald Flaviano, member of young Critic Circle