Day in the Life of Candy
Chances of being born are so slim,
So keep warm, keep warm.
And take some heart at being born quite so young;
You can learn to talk and learn to walk in your own time.
Take heart in being born,
Making plans that you can’t keep, that you’ve outgrown;
You’ve taken this too far, now take me home…
In these four walls, you’re so young. —“Keeping Warm”
With its sweeping intro and beautiful lyrics, this song by We Were Promised Jetpacks has always reminded me of that feeling that descends on me every time I wake up at dawn, or type in the very first word in a blank page, or stand in front of a classroom full of kids—that feeling of possibility, the feeling that there is always time to get up and change things. But from now on, it will remind me of Happyland, an indie film about a group of underprivileged boys from Tondo learning to play football and discovering how much impact it can have on their young lives.
From an outsider’s point of view, the world is cold for the boys in this movie: There are too many people living under one roof, shoving each other for love, attention, and breathing space. There are too many things that money CAN buy, making it seem like there are too many things they cannot do. There is too little food on the table, too much responsibility heaved onto their skinny shoulders, too little time to stop and think and feel that they are lucky to be alive. For as long as these boys could remember, they’ve been filling up their hearts with doubt, and resentment, and anger at the injustice of it all—who got to wave his magic wand and decide that they would be born this way?
But no heart is too full for hope. And when a Spanish missionary priest and a young football coach come knocking on their doors to offer help and guidance, plans change for these boys. Maybe they can be good at something. Maybe they can work as a team, and maybe they can find the kind of friendship that goes beyond what is here and now. Maybe they can go to college, build a future, have faith that things will get better. Maybe they were winners after all.
Life is a ball game, and this movie shows how a group of underprivileged boys learned to play the game well by making the most out of what they had. They took their chances, not just when they stepped onto the field with their worn-out shoes, not just when their feet touched the ball to send it soaring towards victory. They took their chances when they started dreaming—when they started believing in these dreams and believing in themselves. And what kind of life is worth living, really, if nobody ever bothered to take chances?
I like that feeling of possibility, the feeling that there is always time to get up and change things. And that is exactly the feeling I got after watching Happyland. The world is cold but these young boys’ dreams—these young boys’ possibilities—keep them safe, and keep them warm.
Happyland, which stars Mo Ibrahim, Joseph Cerdena, Peter Amores, China Cojuangco, Mara Isabella Yokohama, and the Tondo Futkaleros, was screened at the Cinemanila film festival yesterday. Visit their Facebook page for more details.
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