‘The Sister’, a film by a native of Boac, Marinduque

Indie Nation a Special Section of Cinemalaya 2016 will be showcasing various awesome and worth-watching independent films this August 6-14, 2016.

Among the new film that will exclusively be screened in Little Theater,  Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) is “The Sister”. The Sister was written and directed by a native of Boac, Marinduque, Joseph Israel Laban.

Laban is an award-winning Tagalog journalist and independent filmmaker. He is also a Palanca-winning playwright and a Fulbright Scholar. He obtained his Master’s degree in Journalism with a concentration in News and Documentary at New York University’s Arthur Carter Journalism Institute, where is a recipient of the prestigious NYU Graduate School for the Arts and Sciences Scholarship. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of the Philippines – Diliman.

Laban is currently working as a managing producer of GMA News and Public Affairs assigned to such programs as Front Row where he is the executive producer, director and writer; and Reporter’s Notebook where is works as head writer. He is also the founder and festival director of GMA News TV’s Cine Totoo Philippine International Documentary Film Festival.

The Sister

Screening Date: August 13, Saturday, 9:00 PM at CCP Little Theater


In the midst of the traditional moryonan rites observed every Holy Week in the island province of Marinduque, Mariana receives a devastating news from abroad – her sister, Magda, who was working as a domestic helper in Saudi Arabia is dead.

The Sister Trailer from Joseph Laban on Vimeo.

Mariana and her mother then have to deal with the tedious and expensive process of repatriating the remains of Magda. Living on top of a mountain of mine tailings in an abandoned mining site, Mariana has very few options to raise funds. Their livelihood of selling and repairing moryon masks has been increasingly unprofitable of late. Their neighbors on the other hand are too busy trying to figure out where to relocate as they are being forced to make way for the resumption of mining operations in the area.

As Mariana tries to raise the funds necessary to bring back her sister’s remains, her faith and determination are put to a test as she is forced to navigate through a sea of difficult choices while also coming to terms with her own past of grief and despair.


Mariana is shot entirely in the island province of Marinduque, in the Southern Tagalog region of the Philippines. It is believed by many experts as the cradle by which the Tagalog language has sprung. Tagalog language is the basis of the modern Filipino language.

Like most of the Philippines, Marinduque was under Spanish colonial rule for 400 years with a unique version of Catholicism still present in the island today as manifested by the annual Moryonan or Moriones festival. In the 1970s, international mining companies from Canada and Australia came to the province to operate the biggest copper mine site in Asia at that time, stopping only after tons of mine tailings accidentally flowed into the Boac River resulting in the worst mining disaster in Philippine history.

Today most Marinduquenos subsist on farming and fishing, while a significant number also decide to work overseas as seamen or domestic workers. The reopening of mining operations is presently being promoted by the national government.

Main Cast

Sue Prado as Mariana
Isadora Villasquez as Caridad
Orlando Sol as Kiko
Blair Arellano as Arlo
Danilo Mandia as Danny
Aizel Lacdao
Gladys Olano
Daphne Chiu
Dencio Gagarin
Mia Masangcay
Derick Cabrido
JP Habac Jr
Leandro Sarito
John Bernard Infante
Paul Anthony Azures
John Leonard Magayones
Joseph Londoy
Mark Gil Semilla
Manuel Espiritu

For access to the online screener and screening invitations please contact any of the following:

Ferdinand Lapuz

One Big Fight Productions

Joseph Israel Laban

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