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Ina Therese R.

Ardan STEM 12-E February 20, 2018

Hunger for Life


“The fewer the desires, the more peace,” according to Mr. Woodrow Wilson. Desires can
become dangerous. Wanting something too much may lead you to cross borders just to get it.
However, complacency is not exactly a better option. Should we just accept our circumstances,
or should we act to change them?

Insiang lived in a small community in Tondo. She worked as a laundry woman to earn
and feed the family, while also giving a part of her wage to her abusive mother, Tonya. They
lived with Insiang’s relatives from her father’s side. One day, Tonya argued that they should
leave her home since they do not contribute enough income to support their needs. However, the
true reason as to why Tonya wanted them to leave was to make room for her lover, Dado.

Dado lived with them, and the whole community knew about what the two did at night,
even as they left the faucet open to cover up the noise they make. It was not long until Insiang
became a victim of Dado as well. He raped her. Insiang tried to convince Bebot, her boyfriend, to
marry her and to live somewhere else, to escape the grip of Tonya and Dado. Bebot promised her
his loyalty, but then left her the day after. She went back home, and Tonya accepted her back.
Tonya decided to bring Insiang with her to the market to avoid anything happening between her
daughter and her lover. However, Dado confessed to Insiang that the true purpose of his
relationship with Tonya is to get closer to her. Insiang allowed Dado to become closer to her and
used this as part of her plan to get revenge—to get back at Bebot, and to get Tonya to kill Dado
out of jealousy. Her plan worked. In the end, Tonya was found in a penitentiary. Insiang admitted
her plan and sought the affection her mother, but Tonya responded coldheartedly. Insiang left,
crying. Overcome by guilt, Tonya also broke down in tears as she watched Insiang by the
window.

Insiang, the protagonist, started off as an innocent and obedient daughter. However, after
experiencing hurt and abuse from her mother, her mother’s lover, and her boyfriend, we see how
she transformed into a character who sought revenge. She acknowledged her anger when she had
a conversation with her best friend. Her desire changed from simply escaping the miserable life
she lived in, into getting back at those who caused her misery. She resolved that only she could
help herself. She managed to get Bebot beaten up after leaving her; Dado killed after raping her;
and Tonya imprisoned after abusing her. Despite all that has happened, it turned out that she still
desired her mother’s affection.

Tonya, Insiang’s mother, had been introduced as the bitter wife who was left by her ex-
husband. She tried to relieve herself from the bitterness by directing her attention and affection
towards Dado, her much younger lover, instead of her daughter, Insiang, who reminded her of
her ex-husband. Even after finding a new man, she still found herself in a distressing situation
when she found out what had happened between her lover and her daughter. Out of anger and
jealousy, Tonya killed Dado. Until the end, she thinks only of herself, not letting go of her pride.
She remained cold to Insiang, only regretting all that she had done after her daughter left her as
well.

Dado was what you could call the “siga” of the town. He believed he was manly and he
showed it off to the people around him. He almost always wore a denim jacket when he’s not at
home. He ridiculed Bebot when he saw him wearing an earring. He was a drunkard and a
gambler. He also believed that he always gets what he wants; the people recognized his
dominance as well. From the beginning, it was already revealed that Dado had eyes on Insiang,
and he did find a way to get to her; he got to live under the same roof as Insiang and had her
separated from her boyfriend. All throughout, he only truly thought of himself.

I believe that the characters were realistic, leaving out Insiang plotting the murder of
Dado. They matched the setting, which was a cramped neighborhood near a dumpster in Tondo.
They resided in a small house, earning just about enough to feed themselves and to provide their
needs. They lived a miserable life. Their desires were lifelike. Anyone can relate to dreaming of a
better life, or the need to be free from a bitter past. These desires were what pushed the
characters into deciding and acting the way they did. However, I think that it is not realistic for
Insiang to intentionally scheme Dado’s death. Her desire for revenge was natural, but the way
she did it in the film seemed out of character. The transition from innocent and obedient daughter
to murder mastermind was sudden. The way she used her mother as the murder weapon was
excessive. She could have just killed Dado herself. Why does she still have to use her mother
when it was revealed in the end that she still desired her mother’s affection?

Overall, I still think of the movie as a good insight on life in the slums around the
Philippines. It shows that people who live there aren’t exactly just content with the life they live,
but they’ve just learned to get used to it because getting out is not as easy as it looks. They, too,
desire freedom and a better life. However, these desires can also become blinding, and before
they know it, they’ve already crossed the edge, where there is no turning back.