‘Katips’ review: Anger, love, history through song

MANILA, Philippines — Pairs of young activists striving for justice make up the FAMAS 2022 big winner “Katips: The Movie,” the film adaptation of Vince Tañada’s 2016 musical of roughly the same name.

“Katips” gets its name from “the new Katipuneros,” which are the student activists from the Katipunan area of ​​Quezon City who protested the martial law declaration imposed by the late president Ferdinand Marcos.

Most of the film’s set pieces appear to have been pulled out of a stage set, from the production design to the choreography performed by the ensemble. The closest resemblance would be “Les Miserables,” itself featuring the revolution of young activists.

The music by Pip Cifra is catchy at times, but can get a little off-putting upon hearing the lyrics while seeing the characters’ lips.

Still, you can feel the anger flowing through Cifra’s lyrics and Tañada’s story, the latter also serving as the film’s director and playing the activist Ponyong.

Related: Martial Law film ‘Katips’ wins big at FAMAS 2022

It should come as no surprise that Tañada is the stellar performer when it comes to singing especially during his rendition of “Manhid,” and his reprisal of it is a complete turnaround of emotional outbursts.

In fact, the only other artists that could match Tañada onscreen were Adelle Ibarrientos, herself proving some capable pipes, and a very compelling Mon Confiado as Lieutenant Sales.

“Katips” isn’t just about protests but also about love that blossoms from kindred ideals, as seen with Tañada and Ibarrientos’ Alet and of Jerome Ponce’s Greg and Nicole Laurel Asensio’s Lara — this is best shown in the song “Sa Gitna ng Gulo .”

The film is aptly given an R-16 rating because of some brutal torture scenes, which become even more horrifying when one realizes such atrocities did occur during a ruthless regime, and it speaks to the message that “Katips” is trying to invoke.

From beginning to end, “Katips” does what it can to honor the young heroes that fought for what their country deserved, and while it suffers some missteps in jumping from stage to screen, it strives for hope that a new generation would learn what was lost, won, and must be remembered.

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