Film Review: Isang Araw Lang
(This is a reader’s review of the film Isang Araw Lang, the directorial debut of Kuya Daniel Razon, screened recently at the Meralco Theater and the PICC Plenary Hall in Pasay City. This was emailed to us and republished in whole in this blog. Contributions are welcome from readers. Please email us at email@example.com)
The Parable of the Jeepney Driver | by Benedict Abulencia
Once there was a jeepney driver named Kuya Daniel who had a very, very big heart for helping people, without hoping for favors to be returned and without airing his good deeds to people. He was assisted by his conductor cum sidekick, Johnny, who always brought things to a, well, wacky turnout.
Kuya Daniel took care of several orphans and attended to all their needs, not to mention the needs of those who looked after them for him. Aside from that, he was also always ready to respond to the needs of his fellowmen, especially his fellow drivers. Thus, there was always this clamor of seating him as a replacement to the incumbent drivers’ association president, Ka Rene, who was known to be taking advantage of his members.
At one time, he was able to convince a young snatcher, Estong, to turn around from stealing. Another time, he went out of his way to rescue several children enslaved by a gang from being sold to unscrupulous foreigners.
When one of his wards got sick and needed a big amount for an operation, Kuya Daniel had an encounter with the corrupt Congressman Ricardo who wanted to capitalize on the child’s sickness for his political ambitions. Bearing a grudge against the driver, the evil politician took away his adoptees and filed kidnapping against him.
When the silent Good Samaritan seeks the help of his friend Police Colonel Cuevas regarding the suit, Ricardo directs the child trafficking gang to kidnap Kuya Daniel and pressures Cuevas not to favor his long-time pal. During the torture inflicted upon Kuya Daniel, divine intervention helps the two friends not only to put an end to the gang but also silence the bad lawmaker. Three months later, doctors were able to find the sick orphan an alternative to being operated, thus requiring less money for her treatment.
“A tall tale”, many people may say. “How in the world can a jeepney driver do all that?” they might even say. Maybe others would even say that what Kuya Daniel did in the movie would be possible only with rich and/or powerful people because they have plenty of resources. But then again, that is one of the wrong beliefs that the movie “Isang Araw Lang” aims to tear down.
In real life, Kuya Daniel Razon is exactly the man that he portrayed in the film, character-wise. As Vice-Presiding Minister of the Members Church of God International (MCGI), he helps Presiding Minister Bro. Eli Soriano to look after a big, big family. The two leaders look after their members not only spiritually but even materially, especially those who are orphans, underprivileged, sick, disabled, and aged. If non-members would look into the obligations that the two have with their brethren, their jaws will definitely drop in awe. However, things don’t end there!
Being the Chairman and CEO of Breakthrough and Milestones Productions International (BMPI), Kuya Daniel oversees UNTV’s day-to-day public service efforts, catering to all people who need help, without discrimination towards anyone. With the support of Bro. Eli Soriano and some sponsors, UNTV provides free medical, dental, optical and legal assistance not only in its own building along EDSA but also in far places here and abroad. Unbelievable but true. Millions of people have already been a witness to the boundless love and care extended by MCGI and UNTV.
Now, others may mistake this for grandstanding on Kuya Daniel’s part. That is wrong. Firstly, in this article, he is not the one showcasing the good deeds that he and Bro. Eli are doing for others. Biblically speaking, you can even be praised by other people but not by yourself. Secondly, if people think that everything that they are doing for others has been shown in this article already, the reader must think otherwise.
Just like the Kuya’s driver-character, they do not have the habit of announcing to the world every act of kindness that they do. As wise spiritual investors, their heavenly deposits are highly secret in the Father’s treasury. What’s more, there is a Biblical provision giving them the right to once-in-a-while show the world what genuine public service is and how different the Church of God is from all other religious groups in the world.
How great is the sacrifice that they undergo? It is extremely great. With each obligation toward a fellow man—attending to orphans and widows, providing free schooling, borrowing money for others who need it, to name a few—comes physical, mental and emotional burden. Things are even made more burdensome by careless people like Johnny. Usually unintentionally, he causes trouble but Kuya is the one who answers for the situation. It is not Kuya’s fault anymore but he is always ready to save the other person’s neck. Now, that is heroism! That is true love, the love that the Lord Jesus Christ talked about in the Bible: that one is ready even to die for a friend!
Kuya Daniel’s situation is made even more complicated by people like Congressman Ricardo and the boss of the child trafficking gang. Their evil intents and actions get in the way of Good Samaritans like Kuya. Of course, since good and evil would never reconcile, when wrongdoers—especially big-time ones who pretend to be heroes—see the deeds of real heroes as a threat to their modus operandi, they always find ways to halt true-blue acts of kindness.
Time and again, Kuya Daniel and, more especially, Bro. Eli have both experienced religious and social persecutions in the form of defamation and criminal suits from religious leaders and government leaders who perceive the two’s activities as a menace to their vile plans.
Faced with all these, Kuya Daniel does not lose hope. He always trusts that God is always there to help him and the people that depend on him. In the face of evil itself and of seemingly impossible situations like her ward’s leukemia, the kind-hearted driver keeps composed and does not resort to unrighteous means of earning money. (He even taught Estong this virtue.) Congressman Ricardo’s political ambition did not even blind Kuya Daniel into finding an easy way out of the girl’s dilemma. In real life, Kuya Daniel is just the same. He does not incline towards nor ride on dirty tactics just to get things done. No politician can even sway him to deviate from the sincerity of the objectives that he shares with Bro. Eli. Even if Kuya Daniel was obviously and maliciously deprived of his rightfully earned congressional seat, they have continued the public service that they started many years back.
In the story, our driver-hero did not get back at his enemies with evil. Driven by biblical wisdom, he endured every torture: mental, emotional and even physical. He fought his martial instincts and did not fight back. He did not go down to the level of his enemies by doing the same evil tricks that they have done against him. Rather, having realized that God has the exclusive right to everyone’s life, Kuya Daniel retaliated with weapons of wisdom, focusing on the evil in the person and not on flesh and blood. At present, that is his exact situation in his religious career together with Bro. Eli. Their detractors hurl tons of defamatory statements and grievous charges against them. Yet, the two preachers do not even lift a finger to fight back with the same armaments used by their enemies. Like the Christ of the Bible until His dying day on earth, they behave like sheep in the slaughterhouse.
Are all of these unbelievable, especially in our times? Yes, but they are all true. Many will even ask, “Are they human?” Most MCGI members asked the same question before. Bro. Eli and Kuya Daniel are definitely human, down to the minutest detail of their being. However, if they are able to do things superhumanly, then there is something—or Someone—not human that makes them do all of the above. That is no less than the Almighty. Who else, if not He?
Though such things will really make you wonder, they will make you realize many things. I believe I don’t have enough time to write many of those lessons down. Still, I know that there are much more things that the film has brought to my heart which pen cannot impress on paper. I do not claim to understand every message of the film but I believe that I did understand some of them with God’s help.
Personally speaking, I would not call the film a fiction, but rather a parable. It is a parable because, just like in the Scriptures, it teaches us matters for our salvation using situations in this life. Of course, same with parables in the Bible, there are those who will understand and there are those who will not. For those who do understand, there are at least two things that they will surely do: to thank God that there are still people like Kuya Daniel and Bro. Eli who strive to do good and influence others to do the same amidst this world of evil, and to do good to everyone else starting with one day only.