In the small town of Obando, Bulacan, in the Philippines—full of military wives and cackling gossips—everyone knows everyone else’s business. But when the beautiful and intriguing Pilar inexplicably shows up after being gone for years, all the neighborhood ladies go into a tizzy while the neighborhood men line up in droves for her massage services.
No one is more entranced than 12-year-old Anita, a smart-mouthed tomboy who enjoys playing war games, wearing robot T-shirts, and sporting short hair (rather than the flowing tresses and dresses her mom insists on). Anita’s love for grownup Pilar blossoms in director Bernardo’s comical dream sequences. Ever the little butch-in-training, Anita sports her crush around town, as an oblivious Pilar tries to outrun her painful past. But once Anita discovers Pilar’s connection with Anita’s cousin Oscar and why she left in the first place, the young girl’s dreams of a happy ending are replaced by her very first broken heart.
Set against the backdrop of a yearly fertility festival full of colorful local characters, Filipino tradition, and gender role expectations, this tender coming-of-age story treats life’s hardships with an innocent and light hand.
— Angelique Smith