Todo Todo Teros (John Torres, 2006)
John Torres' Todo, Todo, Teros is, simply put, a lovely film. Part video collage of found footage, glued together with bits of poetry (by Joel Toledo, who co-wrote the screenplay with Torres); part espionage drama; part documentary look on the Manila of today (the sights, sounds, feel of it, the excitement, energy, jacked-up paranoia); part meditation on relationships and the impact one has on others, the film is by turns funny, disturbing, tender, erotic.
On the surface it's the story of a terrorist-filmmaker (Earl Drilon, as the director's surrogate) walking through the Manila of today, a Manila just a shade darker, less tolerant of marginal figures and eccentrics and wayward types, thanks to 9/11--we have to remember that Al Qaeda operatives have been captured in Manila, and that members of the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) trained in Afghanistan. When Torres surreptitiously trains his lenses at people sitting on park benches and talking, you can't help but think of a surveillance camera; when he throws Teletype reports onscreen of terrorists with Muslim names being captured here and there, you feel a shiver run up your spine. Torres doesn't overplay the terrorism angle (he doesn't have the budget to, anyway); he keeps it all at a background murmur, and it helps add to the verisimilitude, to the sense that this--this is Manila in the second millennium.