Panaghoy sa Suba

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Panaghoy sa Suba
(The Call of the River)
Panaghoy sa Suba poster
Directed by Cesar Montano
Produced by Cesar Montano
Written by Cris Vertido

Cesar Montano
Juliana Palermo
Jackie Woo
Joel Torre
Ronnie Lazaro
Rebecca Lusterio
Daria Ramirez
Caridad Sanchez
Suzette Ranillo
Disi Alba
Phil Anthony
Reiven Bulado
Dr. Warfe Engracia
Chelo Espina
Flora Gasser
Rommel Montano

Rowald Montano
Ramon Villanueva
Music by Nonong Buencamino
Cinematography Ely Cruz
Edited by Renato de Leon
Distributed by CM Films Inc.
Release dates 2004
Running time 2 hours
Country Philippines
Language Boholano with English captions; Tagalog; Japanese; English
Budget 25,000,000.00

Panaghoy sa Suba, titled "The Call of the River" in English, also referred to as "Cry of the River"[1] is a 2004 film produced, directed and starred by Filipino actor Cesar Montano. It features Filipino actors Juliana Palermo, Jackie Woo, Phil Anthony, Reiven Bulado, Caridad Sanchez, Joel Torre, Daria Ramirez, Ronnie Lazaro, Suzette Ranillo, Rommel Montano, Dr. Warfe Engracia, Ramon Villanueva, Chelo Espina, Flora Gasser, Disi Alba and Rebecca Lusterio.[2]

It is an epic story set during the American Occupation (1898–1942) and the Japanese Occupation (1942–1945), shot amidst the virgin splendor of the island province of Bohol, Philippines, mostly along and around the Loboc River, which plays a significant role in the story.[3] It is a mixture of action, drama, romance, and history.

The film is Cesar Montano's directorial debut with an almost entirely Visayan cast, and together with young film maker R.D. Alba, one of the movie's producers who studied film in Hollywood, they made perhaps the biggest film ever to be shot in its entirety in the Visayas. The film, intended for both national and international exhibition, boldly used Visayan as the main language.[4]

It was given an "A" rating by the Cinema Evaluation Board or CEB of the Film Development Council of the Philippines and was CM Films' entry to the 2004 Metro Manila Film Festival.[5] The CEB described Cesar Montano's direction as "meticulous but light-handed." It turned "a somewhat rambling and slow screenplay into a poetic, sometimes even magical, current of silent struggle and survival."[5]

The Call of the River is a multiple award-winner. It has bagged Second Best Picture (to Mano Po 3), Best Director, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Musical Score, Gatpuno Villegas Cultural Award at the Metro Manila Film Festival, 2004;[6] and Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress at Gawad Suri Awards, Manila, 2005.[7]

Panaghoy sa Suba, which garnered 16 awards and 11 nominations[2] including 5 from the Metro Manila Film Festival, was also given an endorsement by the UNESCO.[4] It was named Best Picture at the "International Festival of Independent Films" held in Brussels, Belgium. Montano was also chosen Best Director.[8] In addition, Montano also won Best Actor in Panaghoy sa Suba in the Golden Screen Awards.[9]

Panaghoy sa Suba was invited as an exhibition in the Tous les Cinemas du Monde (Movies of the World) at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005.[10][11] It has also been invited for exhibition in other international film festivals in Berlin, Toronto, Tokyo, Korea and in the Czech Republic’s "Karlo Vary Film Festival".[11] It was shown at the Shanghai International Film Festival on June 11 to 19, 2005—its second international screening after Cannes (World Cinema category, non-competition). Panaghoy was also shown at the New Delhi’s Asian Festival of Asian Cinema on July 15 to 24, 2005.[12]


Loboc, River

The film tells the story of a love-triangle set in Bohol during World War II; though the main underlying themes deals with Filipino nationalism and the legacies of colonialism.

The story takes place on the island province of Bohol, located in Central Visayas, before and during the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines. Duroy (played by Cesar Montano) is a banca operator who is in love with Iset (played by Juliana Palermo), the most bewitching girl in a village where the main thoroughfare is the river. Iset is an obedient child whose father and materialistic aunt hope that she will marry the American businessman she works for, and thereby marry "up" into wealth and status instead of marrying one of the hard-working Filipino village men.

The resident American businessman, John Smith (played by Philip Anthony), is an abusive, rude and stingy landowner, but he has taken notice of Iset's beauty and is interested in her—although it is not clear if he is considering her as a wife or merely as a mistress. Iset, however, has made it plain that she likes Duroy who she asked to express his love in a letter. Duroy takes his time in trying to win the love of his life, but Ibô (Reiven Bulado), Duroy's brother, is also smitten with Iset and moves more quickly. Since Duroy adores his family and does not want to get in his brother's way, he stops courting Iset.

Duroy is devoted to his family, who now only consists of his mother (Daria Ramirez), Ibô and his sister, Bikay (multi-awarded former child star Rebecca Lusterio). Duroy's father left them earlier to go off with an American (This last plot element is not conveyed in the film's English subtitles). Heartbroken and ill, Duroy's mother eventually dies when they have no more money to buy medicine.

Smith sees Ibo talking with Iset at the warehouse and fires him on the spot. Ibo tries to kill Smith. Smith successfully fights for his life and kills Ibo in self-defense instead. Duroy vows revenge.

When the Japanese invasion begins, Mr. Smith is drafted into the American army and has to leave the village. The commander of Japanese forces that garrison the village after the Americans are defeated also notices Iset, and her aunt makes plans to marry Iset to the Japanese officer. Meanwhile, many of the men flee to the mountains while the women and children remain with the American priest in the village.

Several years pass. Duroy and his men in the mountains launch an attack against the Japanese garrison. The Japanese respond by taking hostages and killing the priest. Eventually a mixed group of Filipino and American troops arrive in Bohol to help the Boholano guerrilla force defeat the Japanese troops during the Second Battle of Bohol in 1945.

Duroy kills the Japanese commander—his new rival for Iset's hand—after a long fight in the village.

Smith (mockingly dubbed "White Balls" by Duroy and his friends) returns after the war over expecting life to continue as it was before the Japanese invasion. Duroy attacks him, beats him up and humiliates him but stops short of killing him. Iset refuses Smith's clumsy offer to renew their relationship and chooses Duroy.

The end implies a once-more blossoming romance between Iset and Duroy.


  • Cesar Montano - Duroy
  • Juliana Palermo - Iset
  • Reiven Bulado - Ibô (Duroy's brother)
  • Daria Ramirez - Duroy's mother
  • Rebecca Lusterio - Bikay (Duroy's sister)
  • Jackie Woo - Fumio Okohara (Japanese Army officer)
  • Philip Anthony (as Phil Anthony) - John Smith
  • Caridad Sanchez - Aunt Lahi
  • Joel Torre - Damian
  • Ronnie Lazaro -
  • Suzette Ranillo -
  • Rommel Montano -
  • Dr. Warfe Engracia -
  • Ramon Villanueva -
  • Chelo Espina -
  • Disi Alba -


The story of Iset and Duroy is a beautiful tale of the patience and faithfulness of true love. Duroy never ceases to love the object of his affections and continues to respect her despite the rejection and prejudice her snobbish family displays towards working-class Filipinos. Iset, for her part, though wooed by wealthy and/or powerful foreign suitors, remains attached to Duroy. She follows him even into the mountains, risking the safety of the rebels.

Iset is an image of the Philippines. It is for her that Filipino men such as Duroy and his brother fight and die for. Her affections/natural resources are sought by foreigners, but her true fulfillment is found in loving her own.

It is a poignant statement against colonial mentality. The aunt is as willing to marry off Iset to a Japanese officer as to an American business man. Ironically, the primary American character, John Smith, is less likable than the Japanese Army officer in command of the Japanese garrison; Okohara seems sincere when he talks about marrying Iset and taking her to Japan with him when the war is over even though this seems as much his personal fantasy as a realistic plan of action given the Japanese racial prejudices of the period. A confrontation between in the mountains between Duroy's men and the combined American and Philippine Commonwealth forces who have come to "liberate" the Philippines articulates the Filipinos' feelings that they don't need—or much want—the foreigners help in defeating the Japanese, and that they will not allow the Americans to resume their pre-1942 role as colonial overlords.

Beautiful Islands[edit]

cruise along Loboc, River

Panaghoy sa Suba was shot in Bohol. The scenes showing the beauty and bounty of the river clearly speak of Cesar's love for his country. The fact that the film was almost entirely spoken in Visayan made it clear that it was a tribute to Cesar's heritage as a Filipino and a Visayan.

The scenes at the old church, the market and the river all show the traditional culture of the Visayans, their life and their concerns. It shows a simple life, but also one that is vulnerable to the temptation of having a "better life". Iset's Aunt Lahi (Caridad Sanchez) plays her role convincingly and naturally. She is the one who seeks a better life for Iset by trying to marry her off to whatever rich and powerful foreigner is available.

Bikay is a revelation. The young actress gives life to every scene in which she appears. Her face is expressive, her dialogue effective and her youthful charm captivating. She is a lovely Visayan child, dedicated to her brother and devoted to her mother. She is a picture of Filipino women, who are still bound by close family ties with love and no mere sense of obligation.

Panaghoy sa Suba is like a love song proceeding from the deep recesses of a nationalistic soul. It reaches the ears of its viewers with a simple yet touching chord that makes one want to sing along.


  • Metro Manila Film Festival, 2004 (won)
  • Film Academy of the Philippine Awards, or FAP, Philippines 2005
    • Best Cinematography - Ely Cruz (won)
    • Best Musical Scoring - Nonog Buencamino (won)
    • Best Screenplay - Cris Vertido (won)
    • Best Director - Cesar Montano (nominated)
    • Best Picture (nominated)
    • Best Sound (nominated)
    • Best Supporting Actor - Ronnie Lazaro(nominated)
    • Best Supporting Actress - Daria Ramirez(nominated)
  • Gawad Urian Awards, 2005
    • Best Actor - Cesar Montano (won)
    • Best Cinematography - Ely Cruz (won)
    • Best Direction - Cesar Montano (won)
    • Best Music - Nonog Buencamino (won)
    • Best Picture - (won)
    • Best Sound - (won)
    • Best Editing - Renato de Leon (nominated)
    • Best Production Design (Pinakamahusay na Disenyong Pamproduksiyon) - Allan Leyres and Ron Heri Tan (nominated)
    • Best Screenplay (Pinakamahusay na Dulang Pampelikula) - Cris Vertido(nominated)
    • Best Supporting Actor (Pinakamahusay na Pangalawang Aktor) - Jacky Woo (nominated)
    • Best Supporting Actress (Pinakamahusay na Pangalawang Aktres) - Rebecca Lusterio (nominated)
    • Best Supporting Actress (Pinakamahusay na Pangalawang Aktres) - Juliana Palermo(nominated)


  1. ^ Cry me a river no more for Pinoy film industry Retrieved 4 December 2006.
  2. ^ a b Panaghoy sa Suba(The Call of the River)2004 Retrieved 29 November 2006.
  3. ^ Cesar Montano's not-so-impossible dream Retrieved 29 November 2006.
  4. ^ a b Panaghoy sa Suba Retrieved 30 November 2006.
  5. ^ a b A-rating for 'Panaghoy sa Suba' Retrieved 29 November 2006.
  6. ^ And the winners are... Retrieved 30 November 2006.
  7. ^ The Call of the River Retrieved 30 November 2006.
  8. ^ Two Pinoy films triumph at international film fests Retrieved 30 November 2006.
  9. ^ Congrats sa mga Winners ng Golden Screen Awards Retrieved 30 November 2006.
  10. ^ Panagahoy sa Suba (Call of the river) to Cannes Filmfest Retrieved 30 November 2006.
  11. ^ a b Cesar Montano’s Panaghoy... to screen in Cannes filmfest Retrieved 30 November 2006.
  12. ^ More Pinoy Films To Int’l Filmfests Retrieved 4 December 2006.
  13. ^ a b c Award Winning Movies MMFF Regal Films Retrieved January 30, 2007.

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