alone together: traydor ang mga alaala

a film review by justin joseph dizon

 “we must not forget”, said the museum guide to the children while discussing the history of Juan Luna’s Spoliarium

*Photo courtesy of BLACK SHEEP

Christine “Tin” Lazaro (Liza Soberano) and Rafael “Raf” Toledo (Enrique Gil) were once college lovers. The once happy pair, with the term of endearment, “mahal” are students from two different schools with different points of view. Tin is an idealistic art studies student from the University of the Philippines who eventually finished with a magna cum laude distinction; she wants to be a museum archivist, she wants to work for MoMA, or The Met, or Guggenheim, she said she wants to change the world. Raf is a pre-med student from the University of Santo Tomas who is taking up biology and unlike Tin, Raf claimed that he is more realistic; Raf is not that much of an achiever like Tin, but nonetheless works hard and does his best. And like any “normie” couple, Raf said that one day he will be a doctor and Tin will be a museum director, and they will get married; a typical happily ever after.

when the museum guide said “we must not forget”, i saw it as a metaphor—we have our own personal histories and that we should always look back, unless we want to succumb again to our past mistakes…the operative word is “look” and not “go”

*Photo courtesy of BLACK SHEEP

(spoilers ahead)

Five years after their breakup, the pair met again…in an awarding event. Raf became the successful doctor he always aspired to be and Tin is exiled from the art world because of an untoward incident in her first job. Tin now plays as a corporate woman but her reality is nothing but a trophy girlfriend and gofer to Greg (Adrian Alandy), an affluent businessman who is on the way to his annulment from his first wife. Raf is in a relationship with Aly (Jasmine Curtis-Smith), a fellow doctor. The two had a quick and a secret conversation at the venue and Tin suddenly received a text message from Raf, which reads “kita tayo sa sunken garden ng 6pm”.

Try asking UP students and they will tell you that Sunken Garden is a place filled with thousands of memories, particularly the bench in front of Malcolm Hall. Raf and Tin met and just talked about how everything went south, how everything turned sour, and how they found themselves in their present lives; their new reality. After 5 years, this is the first time that Tin told Raf about how she was implicated in the misuse of money in her first job. Tin’s decision to break up with Raf was rooted in this workplace drama. Raf gave a short but an abundant response “tangina naman Tin”. Tin played with the hand she was dealt even if that meant losing Raf and losing herself in the process. Tin, at 27, is no longer the woman she imagined herself to be. Like any other hopeful student who has big dreams and worked hard, Tin’s words reverberated:

“hindi ko alam kung anong nangyari sa’kin”

*Photo courtesy of BLACK SHEEP

Tin and Raf went to New York City and there they became the lovers they once were. This is probably the strongest basis of many to argue that the film normalizes and romanticizes cheating. More than a romantic film, it is a film about people, about us, being harbored with our past lives. Our dreams that we already buried because they just aren’t meant for us no matter how hard we tried, are now zombies who rose from the dead and are out and about to chase and torment us. Tin and Raf’s failed happily ever after is not the only hearbreak encapsulated in this film. More than the ex-lovers, what’s more heartbreaking is the fact that our human nature to dream is limitless, bright, and vibrant…until the world’s cruelty will usher in to slap our faces and shove shots of reality, just like shots of Jose Cuervo, down our throats. 

“what if ‘di tayo nag-break?”

“what if ‘di ka nawala?”

“what if magkita tayo ulit, tapos pwede pa?”

*Photo courtesy of BLACK SHEEP

Not to mention, the film’s soundtrack is spot-on. JM De Guzman’s rendition of Rivermaya’s “214” and Armi Millare’s “Kapit” are two songs played along pivotal scenes that will evoke the “feels” from the audience while watching. Antoinette Jadaone once again created a work of art that appealed to young audiences (she was also behind “That Thing Called Tadhana”, Never Not Love You”, and “Love You To The Stars and Back”), probably for reasons that the film is relatable and one cannot deny that its trailer and promo materials are intriguing and will stir interest even if you are not a fan of the “LizQuen” love team. Through the years, I have seen Enrique Gil and Liza Soberano on television and the silver screen and I must say, this has been their best and most mature performance. Alone/Together is heartbreaking and painful but it is something I would totally recommend, especially for those whose dreams did not come true, whose happily ever after’s went down in flames, and those who are still anchored with the past.

a narrative with a backbone built on “what if’s”, this film may or may not trigger your personal “what if’s”

Video courtesy of BLACK SHEEP

“what if natupad yung what if na ‘yun?”

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