Can a plant embody the uniqueness of a country? Is there such a thing as a ‘national flower’? In the Philippines the sampaguita (also known as jasminum sambac, or Arabian jasmine) is a national symbol. This climbing shrub is not particularly striking, but its heady scent and tiny white flowers have been a source of inspiration for singers and narrators for centuries. This film tells the story of a group of children whose lives are inexorably bound up with this flower and the myths that surround it. Sampaguita blossoms are much sought-after but, since they wilt quickly, they must be sold within twenty-four hours. The people of the remote province of Pampanga make a living from the sampaguita. This region is so impoverished that it doesn’t even have electricity. Ronalyn lives here; she is about to leave home to attend school in town. Marlon is selling sampaguitas in town on the fateful day that Ronalyn decides to leave her mother. Today is his birthday and his greatest wish is to buy cake for the whole family. But something happens that will turn his birthday into a day he will never forget until the day he dies. All the children in this film are playing themselves; they are all sampaguita pickers or sellers. The film’s plot was created from interviews that were recorded with children during pre-production.
by Francis Xavier E. Pasion
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