The society of respected film critics that hands out the annual Gawad Urian in cinematic excellence

Hihintayin Kita sa Langit (1991)

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After two long years — a period that saw a severe drought of quality films in Philippine movies — we now have "Hihintayin Kita sa Langit." Although it took a while for this type of movie to come by, it has certainly been worth the wait.

The script by Raquel Villavicencio was derived from "Wuthering Heights" (specifically the Laurence Olivier film version).

Carmina (Dawn Zulueta) and adopted kid (Richard Gomez) form an alliance against her nasty natural brother Milo (Michael De Mesa), the unfavored son of the brood's father, Joaquin (Jose Mari Avellana). When Joaquin dies, Milo takes over the household and reduces Gabriel to a mere servant. Although Carmina and Gabriel are very much in love, Carmina finds it beneath her stature to marry a stable boy like Gabriel. Blinded by the vast wealth of Alan (Eric Quizon), she dumps Gabriel to marry the rich boy. After a few years, Gabriel returns — now a rich man who has acquired wealth through dubious means.

Failing to lure Carmina back into his arms, he marries Eric Quizon's only sister, Sandra (Jackie Lou Blanco) to spite his childhood sweetheart. On the night of the wedding, Sandra discovers at once how she has been used by Gabriel to get back at Carmina, who, in turn goes through a life of hell as she is kept prisoner by the jealous Alan. In the end, after a miscarriage and a suicide at¬tempt, Carmina dies in the loving arms of Gabriel. Ten days later, it is Gabriel who dies - shot by an avenging Milo.

As in 'Wuthering Heights" wherein the spirits of Heathcliff and Catherine are said to be seen on the moors, the ghosts of Gabriel and Carmina are seen frolicking amidst the coconut groves, not far from their tombs.

While a story that's more original would have been preferable, one cannot help but fall in love with "Hihintayin Kita sa Langit."

A lot of credit goes to director Carlos Siguion Reyna for being able to orchestrate beautifully all of the technical aspects of the movie, particularly Romy Vitug's photography. Shot mostly in scenic Batanes, the photography of "Hihintayin" is picturesque and breathtaking.

Well-disciplined, Siguion-Reyna does not allow Raquel Villavicencio's story to get dwarfed by the glorious landscapes and seascapes of Batanes. The more intimate scenes bear this out. The stars of "Hihintayin Kita sa Langit" have all proven something in their respective careers both on televi¬sion and in the movies. Dawn Zulueta, for example, successfully combines physical beauty and fine talent in acting. Richard Gomez fares even better here than in "NagsimulasaPuso." His best scenes are when he hears his ladylove confess her feelings to the yaya (Vangie Labalan), and toward the end when he grieves over the lifeless body of his beloved.

Jackie Lou Blanco, however, is a standout. The cast, of course, wouldn't have been able to deliver such fine per¬formances without the proper guidance of Carlos Siguion Reyna. As the director, he is able to transform what looks like a simple love story into a rich and very charming movie.

If "Wuthering Heights" was named by Somerset Maugham as one of the world's 10 best novels, then we'd like to think that "Hihintayin Kita sa Langit" is one of the best local films ever made in the last four or five years. — Butch Francisco, The Philippine Star