Pan de Salawal is ... Pretty Solid

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In this simple, slice-of-life-like modern fantasy, audiences are treated to a sweet urban parable about a lonely old baker named Sal (played by Bodjie Pascua), who finds comfort and joy in a mysterious girl known only as Aguy (played by Miel Espinoza).

Everyone in Sal's neighborhood is living turbulent lives, and yet each find something to be happy about in the midst of the many obstacles life has to offer. He himself has grown hopeless from his loneliness and his never-ending kidney stone-related problems. Everyone is coming to terms with their respective ages, and each struggle to remain connected to what is left of their once optimistic youths. It would take Aguy and her magical healing abilities to turn everything around.

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The movie is as sweet and flowery as it can be, and there are some moments that would be very much reminiscent of popular slice-of-life anime. (Aguy's decision to wear someone else's underwear as a hat certainly does give-off that vibe) Though there are times that the movie becomes unbearably cheesy for its own good (with one instance being hammered down by the extremely on the nose closing narration), the film succeeds in charming the audience with its universal message of hope in the midst of hardships.

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Both Pascua and Espinoza succeed in winning the audience with their simple father-daughter chemistry. The other actors and actresses are also not behind, as each and every one of them managed to leave an impression that would help welcome moviegoers to the very vibrant world of Pan de Salawal.

Though I have to fault the movie for its usually flimsy use of CGI (e.g. the rain effects, and .... SPOILER ALERT ... Aguy's ghost form), and its often corniest moments, I do have to applaud the film for not trying to craft so grand or so melodramatic. Instead, what the film delivers is a film filled with warmth and heart. If there's anything everyone else in the movie theater would suggest, Pan de Salawal is a finely cooked pastry.

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Additionally (being a BS Development Communication freshman in need of additional points), we can say that this film explored the theme of poverty with absolute poignance. It shows the usual tidbits such as financial burdens and familial problems that we have already seen in somewhat similar films, the film instead chooses to put hope in the spotlight. Sad that you're family left you on your own, even with your own healthcare? Look on the bright side.

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