• At any time of the day, a good movie with popcorn or beer is a welcome pleasure.

    Himala (1982): Movie Review

    Himala (“Miracle”) is a Filipino film directed by the late Philippine National Artist Ishmael Bernal in 1982. Written by multi-award winner screenwriter Ricky Lee, the movie is based on a true incident of a teenage girl in Cabra Island in the province of Occidental Mindoro between 1966 and 1967. The movie’s heroine is played by Philippine superstar Nora Aunor whose portrayal of Elsa is considered by most Filipino critics as the best of her career. 

    Plot. The movie is set in the small arid town of Cupang. The people believes that the drought they are experiencing is the product of a curse placed upon the town for driving away a leper years before.

    During a solar eclipse, a local young woman named Elsa claims to see an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary atop a barren hill. Elsa then begins healing local residents and creates her “Seven Apostles” which includes her friends Chayong and Sepa and entrepreneur Mrs. Alba. Her miracle healing spreads around and soon pilgrims and tourists start arriving in Cupang to visit Elsa. Elsa’s house bears a big sign “Elsa loves you”. Because of the influx of tourists and patients, business in the town booms as people sell religious articles and offer accommodation. Around the same time, Elsa’s childhood friend Nimia, now a prostitute, returns and establishes a nightclub for foreign tourists, which is later ordered closed by the Seven Apostles.

    Orly, a filmmaker, also arrives in Cupang to make a documentary about Elsa. One day, Orly confesses to the town’s Catholic priest that he has seen two drugged youths rape Elsa and Chayong on the hill. He holds a heavy guilt because he just filmed the incident instead of helping the two victims. Later, Chayong hangs herself because of shame, though what happened to her and Elsa was never revealed to the townspeople.

    A cholera epidemic soon inflicts the people of Cupang and many have died including the children of Sepa. Elsa blames herself and stops healing; the authorities also quarantine her house.

    Elsa then stars to show signs of pregnancy. Mrs. Alba then concludes that it is “Immaculate Conception” and proclaims Elsa to be truly blessed. As the same moment, thunders roar and a heavy downpour wets the dry landscape of Cupang. The people rejoice and are convinced that the curse has been lifted and that Elsa’s miracles have come back. Mrs. Alba and the people rush to Elsa’s house and called her out. Elsa then commands her followers to call everyone to assemble on the hill.


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