Ishmael Bernal – Himala aka Miracle (1982)


Himala is a landmark 1982 film directed by Ishmael Bernal. It tells the story of a young woman in a small town in the Philippines who claims to have seen an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary and suddenly begins to exhibit healing powers. More than a movie about faith-healing, the film is an excellent commentary on Third World poverty and backward and contradictory rural customs. The lead role is superbly played by one of the country’s premier dramatic actresses, Nora Aunor.

The film is set in the sleepy, dry town of Cupang (actually shot on location in Ilocos Norte). The locals believe the drought to be a curse placed on them for driving away a leper. However, after Elsa (Nora Aunor) claims to see an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the sad, forgotten town is consumed with commercialism and exploitation. Elsa mysteriously acquires healing powers and the whole village becomes a bustling venue for mass-produced statues of saints, tours, bottles of miraculous water, and souvenir T-shirts. Hundreds of people come to see her: from overweight matrons in fancy cars to undernourished beggars and countless sick people with diseased and malformed bodies.

Language(s):Filipino, Tagalog, English
Subtitles:English (Hard Subbed)

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