Review: Taklub (Trap) SGIFF 2015

by Audrey Kwok
November 22, 2015 by Audrey Kwok

Review: Taklub (Trap) SGIFF 2015

Brilliante Mendoza’s portrayal of quiet humanity post-Typhoon Haiyan.

One year after Typhoon Haiyan (aka Typhoon Yolanda) cost the lives and homes of thousands of Filipinos, director Brilliante Mendoza serves up a reserved narrative of how survivors cope.

Set in Tacloban, one of the cities most badly damaged by the typhoon, Taklub is not a shining tale of resilience and determination against all odds. It is not a story about the unwavering quality of the human spirit. It is not even about how survivors have put the past to the past and are rebuilding their lives.

And that is precisely what sets this film apart.

A line at closing credits quotes Ecclesiastes 3:1-6: “[There is] a time to tear down and a time to build”. Interweaved into their daily activities, the seven main characters are shrouded in a cloud of invisible uncertainty and necessary grief. They seem to be normal, until flashes show them between mourning and moving on. They find solace in some things. They give, and they take. Some relationships have fallen apart, others have grown stronger. At interspersed moments, various scenes have us questioning: What? What now, for the living? Between loss and life, Taklub captures the precise sliver of tender humanity in a disaster-struck region.

Taklub poster

The film opens with death, a parallel to how the common part of our characters’ lives all began, at the same time, with some sort of death from the Typhoon Haiyan. As a fire in the Tent City robs Renato (Lou Veloso) of his wife and three children, so had the typhoon robbed our other characters of someone else. The beauty of Mendoza’s film is that the audience does not realise this until later on. Coupled with the incredible camerawork of a documentary style seeking to show rather than to tell, the film is shot from the perspective of an outsider, leaving audiences to interpret its layers of narrative and to understand each character’s backstory.

As the tale unfolds, the audience grows to suspect that Lianora Lariosa (played by household name Nora Aunor), portrayed as a sort of Mother Teresa from her goodwill in collecting donations for Renato, had also lost children of her own. Larry (Julio Diaz) had lost his wife. Erwin (Aaron Rivera) had lost his parents and was supporting his two younger siblings. In realising this, we realise also that some pain is apparent; others are only muted.

The characters cope in different ways. Larry embraces the Catholic church, yet eventually literally turns his back on the cross after another death of a devotee, and symbolically re-buries a crucifix he had unearthed after the typhoon. Erwin petitions to build new homes for those still living in tents in no-build zones. What is remarkable, however, is the lack of escapism – the characters fully accept the inevitablility of things. They work from what they have been dealt.

Mendoza’s brilliant (pun intended) portrayal is in how there is no glorification of the victims, only an odd sense of normalcy in uncertainty and in having little else to lose. With its dusty, grey, gritty frames and shaky camerawork in ominous scenes, the film does not seek to impress, only to tell a story as realistically as possible, and it hits home exactly for this reason.



Taklub will be screened during the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) 2015. Running from 26 Nov to 6 Dec, the SGIFF covers film screenings, masterclasses held by the various directors, talks and dialogue sessions by eminent members of the film industry and so on.

The selection of films is available here!

Events and movie screenings will be held at a variety of venues including Marina Bay Sands, Shaw Lido, National Gallery and The Projector.

Ticketing details:

Tickets can be booked via SISTIC.
Opening / Closing Films – $25
Special Presentation Films – $15
All Other Films – $12
Imagine Films – Admission by Donation
Masterclasses & Talks – Free Admission by registration at

Concessions are available for students, NSFs, Senior Citizens and various club members and cardholders.
* These prices exclude SISTIC fees.
More information is available here!

Details for Taklub:

Screening: 1 Dec, Tue / 9:30pm / Shaw Theatres Lido
Masterclass by Brilliante Mendoza: 1 Dec, Tues / 7:00pm (60 min)
Admission for masterclasses is free (by registration and on a first-come first-served basis). More information may be found here


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