‘Pugon’ tackles harsh realities of child labor in PH

Published July 29, 2021, 11:33 PM

by Robert Requintina

Jhassy Busran and Soliman Cruz

The harsh realities of child labor in the country are exposed in this year’s Cinemalaya entry PUGON (The Furnace) which tells the story of a teenage girl who is thrown into the pawnship slavery to pay the debt of her poor parents.

Playing the role of Sonia is teen star Jhassy Busran, who just appeared in the movie “Caught In The Act” starring Joaquin Domagoso and Andi Abaya.

During a Zoom interview, Jhassy recalled the first time the role was offered to her. “Noong una kong nabasa ang script, sobra po akong natuwa at kinabahan. Ibang klase kasi ang storya. Pero pinaliwanag naman po nila sa akin ang pelikula at doon ko siya nagustuhan. Meron po kasi itong aral.”

Since the setting of the movie is in a bakery, Jhassy said that she learned how to bake bread. “Kinausap ko po yung mga tao na talagag gumagawa ng tinapay at nalaman ko sa kanila kung ano ang pakiramdam ng nasa initan magdamag.”

Jhassy also said that she’s thankful she did not experience poverty and child labor.

Gabby Ramos, director of the film, said the movie shows the sad reality that it is normal for some parents to pawn their kids so that they could pay their debt.

“Ang pelikulang ito ay paglalantad ng reyalidad na, dito sa ating bayan ay normal lang na ipinadadala ng mgamagulang ang sarili nilang mga anak para magtrabaho sa ibang lugar at makatulong sa kahirapan ng kanilangpamilya. Nakakatawa mang isipin na ang alam nating panuntunan na “Gagawin lahat ng Magulang, mabuhay langang kaniyang mga anak“ ay taliwas sa totoong nangyayari sa kasalukuyan.

“Ang intention ng pelikulang ito ay ipakita ang reyalidad na ito ng buhay, at umaasang masagot ang mga katanungang: Meron bang dapat sisihin? Meron bang dapat gawin?At para sa mga bata na nagtratrabaho para lang mabayaran ang pagkakautang ng kanilang mga magulang: Maari ba silang tumanggi? Maari ba silang mamili ng kanilang kunabukasan?” Gabby asked.

Gabby shares the synopsis of the film: Thrown into the pawnship slavery to pay the debt of her poor parents is Sonia (Jhassy Busran), a 14-year-old girl full of dreams from a fishing village, a community where pawning their children is the norm. 

Forced into labor for a sum their parents get is an abuse the kids need to face every day.Her baptism of fire begins when she is brought to a bread factory.

Along with other children, they witness the acts of abuse by their employer, Mang Rey (Soliman Cruz).After ten months of servitude, they could finally get back home. Shock and dismay welcome her back as she learns that her father had died.

This forces her mother to pawn her again as payment for her father’s funeral expenses. Like the rest of the child-laborers from the Bread Factory, all homeless and in debt once more, a question awaits to be answered:When will this cycle of debt bondage end? To Sonia, is a bright future even possible? How will she deal with her fate?

Ramos is one of the country’s audio, visual director in television, film and commercial. His key strengths are directing, writing, editing and cinematography. He graduated cum laude at the Far Eastern University with post study at Bond University, Australia.

Direk Gabby worked with top government and leading companies, including the Department of Tourism, Department of Trade and Industry, NEDA, TESDA, DOLE, DOE, Studio 23, ABS CBN, GMA 7 and more. He is also a successful businessman venturing in his own FILMProduction Company: Remedios Entertainment Production or“REMS FILM.

PUGON (The Furnace) stars Andrea Del Rosario, Soliman Cruz, and introducing Jhassy Busran, Cassie Kim, and Bamboo B. Also in the cast are Edmond Santiago, Carmen Del Rosario, and Sheena Lee Palad.

An initial venture of Rems Films, PUGON is proudly part of the Indie Nation exhibition section of the prestigious Cinemalaya 2021, now on its 17th year. The most popular indie filmfest in the Philippines is slated to be streamed from Aug. 6 to Sept. 5, 2021 via KTX.ph. For updates, check out the film’s official Facebook page.