In Bagahe, an overseas worker is implicated in a heinous crime – a baby was found in the trash of an airplane. The movie doesn’t really make a mystery out of it as it’s obvious right from the beginning what happened. What’s withheld from the audience is the reason why. As the story unravels as a procedural with the mother under investigation, the plot reveals tedious bureaucracy and intolerance.
As Mercy undergoes the legal process she is reduced to another case number. She’s passed on from one person to another who do what they need to do or what they think is the right thing to do, but never provide what she needs the most – mercy.
From the indifferent clinical doctor who jams an ultrasound probe during a medical exam to a senator who publicly reveals her story without asking for consent to a sensationalist media hungry for a story, she’s further victimized by circumstance. When she’s not judged by the general populace, she’s held responsible for her fate.
Angeli Bayani delivers a stellar and subtle performance here. The rest of the cast also did well, including the minor roles of women in the shelter.
While the movie is able to expose prejudice, Mercy’s own story and suffering take a backseat to the proceedings. If it weren’t for the stellar performance of Bayani, the movie wouldn’t resonate with its viewers.
In fairness, the movie’s main concern is the processes involved and behaviors that arise from its predicament. Mercy becomes a drop in the government bucket while her judgment has already been cast by the people who’ll never know her pain. The script touches on victim-blaming and self-serving compassion.
Bagahe is a simple and fittingly tedious story. It doesn’t really tell us anything new about a broken system and the Filipino’s propensity for snap judgments, but it deftly holds a mirror that reflects a frustrating truth in our society.
Bagahe (The Baggage)
Anchored by the performance of Angeli Bayani, Bagahe is a simple yet revealing story of how bureaucracy dehumanizes the people it's supposed to help.