There’s intense pressure from locals, surfers, and frequent visitors when a film’s title is Siargao. After all, the tiny island in Surigao del Norte is a renowned surfing spot among Filipinos and foreigners. Just four months ago, Conde Nast Traveler named Siargao’s Cloud Nine one of the world’s best surfing spots. Thankfully, Paul Soriano’s film lives up to the island’s beauty and it has an unusual love story to boot.
Siargao stars Erich Gonzales as Laura, a vlogger who escapes to the island after a public breakup with her boyfriend (played by Enchong Dee). There, she meets Jericho Rosales as Diego, a musician who comes home after a humiliating performance. The two fall in love but a hurdle comes in the form of Abby, a laidback Siargao native played by Jasmine Curtis-Smith.
The film is an easy watch and that is its strength. Like the setting, the storytelling is easygoing and uncomplicated. Anj Pessumal’s script is so natural that you almost suspect that Soriano allowed his actors room to improvise. But beneath the breezy tones of the film is its poignant current of thought.
Siargao the film reveals that Siargao the island is also a character. The film is peppered with breathtaking shots of the waves, the white-sand beaches, and the sea, but she also plays an almost philosophical role with the cleansing nature of water, the regenerative power of the surf, and the symbolism of the sunset to new beginnings.
This brings to mind what Curtis-Smith’s character said in one memorable scene. I’m paraphrasing but the message is just as clear as Siargao’s waters: You can’t fall in love in Siargao, but you can fall in love with Siargao. This film totally helps.
Siargao is one of the eight entries of the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival. The other seven films are All of You, Gandarrapiddo: The Revenger Squad, Meant to Beh, Ang Panday, Deadma Walking, Haunted Forest, and Ang Larawan. All films are screened in all cinemas nationwide, and will be screened until January 7, 2018.