TL;DR: Not only does Magbuwag Ta Kay (Let’s Break Up Coz) prove that Cebuano cinema is alive & well, it’s also a novel, bittersweet take on breakups.
It’s always a blessing when regional cinema reach audiences outside where it came from. There are lots of stories waiting to be told to a wide audience, using a language rarely heard in our Tagalog-centric Filipino media.
That’s why the commercial release of the Magbuwag Ta Kay… (Let’s Break Up ‘Coz) is already a cause for celebration. It’s a Cebuano independent film that didn’t go through the festival circuit for it to get made & it’s being distributed by Viva Films; one of the biggest Filipino movie studios. It’s a Cebuano film that can easily resonate to people outside of Cebu, proving that using Visayan & Mindanaoan languages is not a hindrance in telling relatable stories.
And you couldn’t get more relatable than a movie about breakups. The couple at the center of this funny, bittersweet romantic comedy comprises of Kaye (Akiko Solon) & Roy (Rowell Ucat a.k.a. Medyo Maldito). Both of them are college sweethearts & their love for each other remains strong. However, Kaye will be migrating to Canada in a month. Roy is shocked & devastated by this news. She wants to continue their relationship even if they are a million kilometers apart, but he doesn’t want to pursue their relationship without her by his side. So they both decide to split up by the end of the month, & enjoy each other’s company before she leaves the country for good.
It’s a fresh take on a genre filled with heartbroken men & women trying to move on from their pain & sorrow. Their separation isn’t caused by infidelity or an irreparable mistake. These two well-adjusted people are devoted to each other, but decided to split up because one of them wants to forge a new path for herself. It’s a grounded, emotionally mature take on breakups, & it mines this rich thematic vein for all its worth. That means even the movie’s funniest scenes – which includes Kaye revealing the bad news to Roy & the two of them hanging out on the beach – are undercut by a sense of uncertainty & sadness looming over them.
Rowell Ucat & Akiko Solon are a huge key in making it work. With the help of a hilarious, emotionally incisive script, they are able to make us root for a relationship on the verge of its demise. Both of them have a charming, easygoing presence & their chemistry feels warm & natural. You could easily watch them talk & joke around for hours. Rowell Ucat gets to show off his great comic timing. Akiko Solon absolutely nails her dramatic moments.
They also keep the movie in focus, even as it adds a seemingly irrelevant plot in the middle of the movie. It isn’t integrated properly to the movie & it feels tacked on, even as it adds another layer to its themes. Still, Magbuwag Ta Kay never loses sight of the main couple & their problems, even as it goes through its bittersweet end. While breakups are painful, there’s more to life than romantic love & we’d be better off sharing that love to those who need it.