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Nursemaid is the first Filipino film that was released in the year 1959, January 1, 1959 to be exact, by MoonStar films. The story was written by a Filipino author, Christine de la Paz and was directed by the most famous director of the era, Armando Torres.
The film was about an orphan girl, Daisy, who lives with her cruel aunt after her parents died. At the age of 12, she decided to run away to escape the physical and mental abuse she gets from her aunt. One night, while everyone was sleeping, she packed her clothes and sneaked out of the house. As she was walking down the road not knowing where to go, a horse cart passed by. She felt something brushing on her bottom. She got angry when she saw the driver flicking the whip against her. She picked up a stone and tried to hit the man but the man went away rapidly with his horse leaving his loud laughter for her. She was very angry but cannot do anything but to cry. On her way, she met a boy of her age riding a bicycle. The boy came across her and asked what happened and where she was going so late at night. Daisy, not knowing what to answer, said she was going home. Then the boy offered her a ride. On their way, he told her many stories and she wondered how it felt to be with this boy who seemed to be so kind and full of heart. She wished they would never arrive anymore. Minutes later, she realized she was at the door of her aunt’s house already.
Nursemaid was casted by Angela Domingo as Daisy, Roberto Blanca as the little boy, and Lanie Mendoza as the aunt. Other actors and actresses were Daniela Malani, Joseph Butas, Greg Jacinto, Helen Lagonoi, and Pedro Pendukan. Samaritana Batasin, Yeyen Malinay, and Gloria Budang were on the camera.
The movie utilized three songs adapting the Spanish song ‘Te Quiero’ and two English songs including the famous ‘I Love You’ by Dorothy Sands. A number of critics said that the music was so westernized that it reflected the remains of the hundred years of colonization of the Philippines under Spain and the United States.
The film reflected the low technology of the Philippines during the period. The movie was still black and white and since most of the setting was at night, the characters could be hardly identified and the details of the settings were not visible anymore. Moreover, the rough zooming in and out of the shots revealed that the camera they used, was not of a higher technology either. The cast and crew of the film are also little in number showing that the film industry in the Philippines during the time was not so interesting and not many are venturing it.
Some critics said that the number of close-up shots unveiled the tendency of the Filipino people to show off as they were still trying to establish themselves after being under colonization for so many years. However, the adaptation of the western music in the film showed that they were still under colonization. That even though they were free already the culture of the colonizers, they were able to find their own places in the Philippine culture.
The movie was able to take home awards particularly its leading stars Angela Domingo who played as Daisy, and Roberto Blanca who portrayed the role of the boy on the bicycle. They were able to represent their characters very well. Angela could be mistaken to be the real battered child who expressed her childish thought of having a free and happy life which is opposite to the reality. Likewise, Roberto portrayed his role excellently that it appeared very natural and thus it can be determined that the attitude of being hospitable for the Filipinos is an easy and natural task.
Many critics marked the big social distinction visible in the plot between the proletariat and the bourgeois in the Philippines during the late 1950s. Christine de la Paz established the miserable situation of a lowly member of the society which was portrayed in the story by an orphan who became a nursemaid. The film manifested that orphans and nursemaids get little or no right to happiness and freedom therefore showing that these persons were unwanted and that they did not deserve a place in the society. However, some are kind enough to help them. But this minority was not enough to protect the freedom and happiness of the lowly. Their efforts seemed to be just a dream or a wish that little did come true and unluckily gave the same situation as when they first found the concerned person. In the film, this was what happened to Daisy and the boy. The boy came to her like a knight in shining armor, made her feel what happiness is like, but in the end returned her to the same situation she was trying to escape from.
Similarly, the plot portrayed of the political situation of the Philippines during the era. They reflected the subjugation they experienced from their colonizers from the past in their movies and literature. They demonstrated how pitiful and helpless they were during those times. Moreover, they showed off their dream to be free. But even if they are actually free already, their culture, civilization, and life carried the very same ideals from their colonizers and taking it from them would be like destroying their lives. Unknowingly, they adapt and subjugate to their colonizers every time they use their music literature and even their traits and attitudes. The social distinction and the relationship of the rich and the poor itself revealed their very own relationship with their colonizers.
Some Philippine nationalists did not accept the film as they considered it to be very destructive of the image of the Filipinos. They said the writers and the producers were pulling down their very own image by exaggerating the relationship between the proletariat and the bourgeois. After all, the writer and the producers defended that it was just an imitation of a real social situation of the Philippine society during the time.