As much a paean to original folk music as it is a longing for a more romantic era in Filipino culture. One Filipino-American man’s (classical musician Florante Aguilar) quest to find master haranistas in the hinterlands of Luzon has become his nostalgic quest to trace whatever it is that connects him to his motherland. Old men have always been such fascinating subjects for film: there’s something in them that’s mysteriously inscrutable yet disarmingly matter-of-fact at the same time. Aguilar and director Bautista luck out in finding the three haranistas that they did find. They each had their own quirks and charm.
As much as I love the film’s subject, I wish the filmmaking was a little more imaginative. Sure, the original songs are lovely and the ‘story arc’ gradually builds more audience empathy for these once unknown underdogs, but the singing eventually gets a little too repetitive towards the end and the audience are left wanting to know more about the relationship dynamics of the haranistas who were abruptly plucked out from obscurity and formed as a singing group. But even with these nitpicks, I still think Harana is an important cultural document as it is an enjoyable cinematic experience.
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Photo from the Philippine Daily Inquirer