A Film Review
Sheron Dayoc has made Women of the Weeping River (2016) into a film that gives a different insight to the general state of affairs in the war ridden region of Mindanao. As unusual as it already is to find a film which tackles the issues and problems in the area with a genuine air without thoughts of exoticizing and cultural exploitation, it is even more so unusual to tackle it through the viewpoint of a woman. The film had managed to portray the state of affairs in the regions of Mindanao from the viewpoint of the people who are least likely to be heard voicing their thoughts and opinion on the fighting, warfare, and general state of the people and the area.
The film follows the conflict between two warring Tausug clans and the resulting terror and deaths it has plagued both sides. The film starts by revealing that Satra, the main protagonist, has just been made a widow with the death of her husband from the hands of the enemy clan, the Ismaels. A territorial dispute which has turned both sides bitter and a feud which has lasted generations; It was said to be a continued back and forth of bloodshed where with each life taken from one side, retaliation means taking the life from the other.
Left with her son Hassan, and under the care of her then family, she revels in her bitterness and agrees with the family that revenge is an agreeable response. Eventually however, she grows introspective and wonders how it would be if the warring would end. When she meets a woman from the other side, who herself has lost her child due to the clan’s conflict, they somehow come to the understanding that they both somehow wish to see that the fighting end. The film revolves around these women, and how the clan war has effectively affected their lives.
The Tausug as previously mentioned in discussions in class and from historical texts are described to be fierce and courageous people. Not only that, they bear an air of superiority over other Muslim clans given possibly their years of experience at resisting the supposed “powers” that constrict them, from the time of the Spaniards up to present day. The Tausug people are also known to function heavily with reciprocity and debts (Kiefer, 1968). Whether they may be debts of gratitude incurred from social events and labor exchanges between themselves, or within the context of revenge that allows the taking of one life after the unjust taking of another, the Tausugs value the exchange of debts whether they may be beneficial or not.
This leads to the central issue and the highlighted facet of Tausug culture that the film wishes to bring to light. Clan wars, blood-feuds, or Rido as they are called in Tausug culture refers to a state of recurring vengeance between different clans characterized by a series of retaliatory acts of violence carried out to avenge a perceived injustice or wrong doing incited upon their families (Torres, 2007).