Endo: Dead-end fate
By Lito B. Zulueta
Jade Castro’s “Endo” is a totally revealing and very effective depiction of the plight of “end-of-contract” workers, who are forever consigned to contractual status by a global economy in which the profit bottom line is considered an absolute.
The movie, which won the special jury prize of the 2007 Cinemalaya, tells of the romantic and economic struggles of Leo (Jason Abalos), a college dropout who finds it more and more difficult to play the role of family breadwinner as he hops from one short-lived service-oriented job to another. Meanwhile, he also struggles to keep the flame of romance alive between him and Tanya (Ina Feleo), his very spirited and more employable girlfriend, who represents the dream of permanence and stability that he cannot have.
The movie is really about star-crossed lovers in the harsh setting of labor economics. It’s romance and labor relations all rolled into one. Leo’s inability to land a stable job, one that would provide him security of tenure and security of benefits, is reflected in his inability to find an anchor in his relationships.
Tanya provides that promise of safe mooring, but even she has to struggle like him to compete in the manpower market that’s no respecter of ordinary ambition or dreams of professional fulfillment. The rat race snuffs out the romance, and slowly but steadily, Leo finds himself drifting away from her and back into the arms of a former girlfriend, who hooks up with him in order to relieve herself of the monotony and vacuity of her relationship with a rich boyfriend.
But if Leo, by casual sex with his old girlfriend, thinks he’s getting a reprieve from Tanya and the oppressive promise of economic liberation that she represents by her calm prodding, there’s no such break. He discovers that his brother has not been going to school; he’s been a school truant for some time now, wasting the money that Leo has patiently earned and saved to send him to school. The future that Leo has been shoring up for his family now collapses. Once more, it’s the end of the line for Leo, if not another dead end—casual fate for a perennial casual worker.
Castro shows quiet brilliance in the handling of a sensitive material—sensitive because while casual workers in the retail industry are aplenty, a flagrant social phenomenon, their plight is hardly the stuff that makes for a truly commercial or escapist cinema. He also goes against the tide of movies on labor economics—often long on ideology, short on heart. “Endo” has both conviction and heart.
Without a doubt, the power of the movie power derives from Castro’s effective collaboration with writer Michiko Yamamoto and producer-writer Raymond Lee (the same people behind “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros), and also from the very poignant performances of Jason Abalos and Ina Feleo. “Endo” shows there’s no such thing as a dead-end in Philippine independent cinema. New artistic seeds will always be sown, new paths blazed.
Directed by JADE FRANCIS CASTRO; Screenplay JADE FRANCIS CASTRO, MICHIKO YAMAMOTO & RAYMOND LEE; Cinematography WOWIE HAO; Production Design JECK COGAMA; Editing JD DOMINGO; Music OWEL ALVERO; Sound CORINNE DE SAN JOSE; Cast JASON ABALOS, INA FELEO, RICKY DAVAO, ALCHRIS GALURA, CJ JAVARATA, ANDREW TORRES, MAILES KANAPI, KATHERINE LUNA, ANGELI BAYANI; Produced by UFO PICTURES PRODUCTION thru CINEMALAYA