Friday, June 19, 2009

Pinoy Film Focus: Minsan Lang Sila Bata (1996)

(Children Only Once)

Directors: Sadhana Buxani, Ditsi Carolino

Runtime: 50 minutes

Few students and graduates of private high schools in the Philippines have not been exposed to the harsh realities of child labor in the country through the powerful and indelible documentary Minsan Lang Sila Bata. It is a testament to the sheer strength of the film--and of the documentary genre, a form of full-length feature rarely made and discussed in this celebrity-obsessed country--that schools use it to open the eyes of more privileged students and that, more importantly, it works.

The documentarists capture the struggles of severely young children forced by their social standing to work at ports, slaughterhouses, and sugarcane fields, even as they clearly express their desire to become educated and make better lives for themselves. And yet through the heavy lifting of sacks of cement, the unintentional bathing in the stench and blood of butchered animals, and the scorching heat of life by the sickle, the children maintain a sense of humor that endears them and their fate to the viewers as much as their hardships do.

Minsan Lang Sila Bata is easily the definitive, most well known, and perhaps most seen Filipino documentary. For good reason. They are, indeed, children only once, but there are generations more of them that have been and could further be saved by such rare, socially conscious gems as this.

Image source: Database of Philippine Movies


Peggy Peralta said...

hi there. i saw this film when i was in U.P. more than a decade has passed since then, and i still consider it the best documentary i've ever seen. how can i get a copy? thanks!

evermoon said...

hi! you can email the director, Ditsy Carolino at :)

Unknown said...

hi sir... i tried to use the email but it was accepted... how i wish i could have a copy on this docu. where can i buy it?

Unknown said...

One of the heart-breaking documentary film I've ever seen. I watch this film twice in out CLE & CAT subject. Need to make a reaction 'bout this film. :)

aljafer said...

sir, good evening po. tanong ko lang po kung may idea po kayo kung saan po ako puedeng makabili ng dvd copy ng documentary film na "minsan lang sila naging bata(1996)". sana matulungan nyo po ako. thank you very much po at god bless...