K’NA THE DREAMWEAVER is an authentic design of romance and tradition, if you give it a chance.
“You have to look at the bigger picture. The pattern is always there, even if you cannot see it.” – Bey Lamfrey
Beauty, nowadays, is seen myopically, thanks to the availability of content underneath our fingertips. Aside from snapshots of photogenic dishes, the online album is populated by breathtaking sceneries and glitzy fashion deities who are worshipped by every likes and shares. Not digressing how K’Na the Dreamweaver comes into the picture, but first-time director Ida del Mundo offered Cinemalaya X a beautiful yet rare design that weaves the enduring stories of duty, love, and tradition from the often overlooked expedition of the vast Philippine ethnicity.
Across Lake Sebu in South Cotabato lives the indigenous tribe, the T’boli, who are renowned for their traditional clothing. But behind every design is the mythical inspiration of a Dreamweaver and for every Dreamweaver is a story waiting to unfold. Like the dyed abaca fibers strewn to create the unique T’boli cloth, K’Na the Dreamweaver was seamless in stitching its numerous themes into a pattern that dresses the film’s ‘beauty in the ordinary’. Among its many designs, it is a coming-of-age story of the youngest Dreamweaver who had to choose between her people and her true love. As a princess, K’Na must either submit to the proposed marriage to unify the T’bolis or follow her heart. The many aspects of love pierce K’Na because not all loves (young love, love for the society, and love for one’s dream) can make the final cut. Mara Lopez is luminous as the titular lead, as she embraced well the naivety and grace of a young T’boli princess under pressure.
Secondly, the film is a sporadic reminder of how rich the Philippine culture is. K’Na the Dreamweaver is a solemn immersion to an exotic community that is rarely seen onscreen and often taken for granted. The unadulterated, serene landscape of South Cotabato is a refreshing escape, along with the sweet-sounding T’boli dialect that fosters the film’s authentic look (it won Best Production Design in the New Breed Category). Lastly, it’s a tale about dreams and traditions that stood the test of time. The T’boli patterns have been part of the tribe’s identity but in the film, they symbolized K’Na’s ultimate dream and the tribe’s age-long customs. K’Na the Dreamweaver preserves what remains to be known in the diverse Philippine ethnicity which has not been much explored cinematically. Interestingly, the growing number of young Cinemalaya participants was able to see this unfamiliar society through K’Na who had her own share of heartbreak and responsibilities, making her no less different from her urban audience. Her personal struggles, along with the mysticism of a Dreamweaver and the invitation to the T’boli way of life, make the film an enriching and emphatic experience.
Young K’Na and Bey Lamfrey.
There is something magical and chaste about the film that echoes to the epic of Princess Urduja. Despite the film’s thematic richness, the beauty of K’Na the Dreamweaver will only be appreciated, if you give it a chance. The viewers’ tolerance for such subject matter is a bit testy as some may quickly dismiss it as ‘boring’ and ‘plain’. If only they look past their prejudice and see what makes K’Na the Dreamweaver a modest ethnic treasure. From the sweeping river shot in the beginning to the ingenious T’boli designs throughout, Del Mundo conditioned an exotic look in one of the country’s most colorful and thriving tribes. As what K’Na’s grandmother encouraged, viewers should “look at the bigger picture”. It may not be cinema’s grandest look into cultural life (the T’bolis live simply but were never short of history) but K’Na the Dreamweaver opened a new world rarely seen; it further justifies the beauty of Philippine culture, and the T’bolis are just a slice of it.
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