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Review: 10,000 Hours as timely as today’s headlines

It’s easy to see why “10,000 Hours” won 14 awards at the recently-concluded Metro Filmfest awards rites.   It’s as timely as today’s headlines.

Senator Gabriel Alcaraz (competently played by Metro Filmfest Best Actor Robin Padilla) is ready to expose a pork barrel scam that threatens to blow up in the face of the sitting president (Bibeth Orteza).  Enroute to the Senate, he learns the police are bent on arresting him for his perceived involvement  in a  murder case.

Rather than kowtow to government, he  goes to  Amsterdam, where he stays for 10,000 hours (hence the title of the film).

There’s never a dull moment as Alcaraz fights the biting cold, the prospect of starvation and homelessness to elude arrest.  You feel for this man who loves his country so much, he sacrifices himself  and his family (Mylene Dizon sparkles as the spunky wife who bears the burden of raising a brood of three by her lonesome while her husband is away) to wrest free from corrupt powers-that-be.

You admire Mrs. Alcaraz’s inner strength as she nods wordlessly, knowing that her husband will disappear shortly after their conversation in the car.  You feel for the lost children who grow up without a father.

It’s an action film yes; but it’s also a heart-wrenching drama.  And you as spectator can’t just remain passive onlookers.   Alcaraz’s frustration, his wife’s suffering, their children’s problems,make you want to reach out and whisper words of comfort.

Media’s role

At first, you don’t know if you’ll sympathize or condemn media (represented by TV reporter Maya Salazar Limchauco as portrayed by Bela Padilla) for barging into Mrs. Alcaraz’s  hospital room to get the story. Or should you blame the gullible hospital staff for falling into Maya’s trap?

As the film progresses, you realize that yes, media and government can work hand in hand to unearth the truth and let justice win in the end.

And then, you realize that even if the film has a happy ending, it doesn’t mean that the problem of corruption is solved.  Like a deep-seated wound that refuses to go away, it continues to poison the system, as long as the person in power remains.

You end up asking yourself: is the sacrifice of Alcaraz and his family; the risks Maya took, worth it?   Or are they mere palliatives? How many Alcarazes must suffer again just because those in power want to make money while in power?

Be that as it may, the film also shows that not all people in government are rotten eggs. There may be crooked men in uniform, but there are straight ones – like Alcaraz -- with only the country’s welfare in mind.

Producers say 10,000 Hours is inspired by the story of former senator and now rehabilitation czar Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson, who also  became a fugitive of justice years ago.  But the film is still pure fiction.  Lacson has been secretive about the details of his life in hiding and its effect on his family.

10,000 Hours makes us want to believe in patriotism once more, and the good intentions of our much-maligned senators.

It’s a suspension of disbelief, alright. But  that’s what movies are for.  We can dream, can’t we?

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