Hello, Love, Goodbye (2019)
More than the love story that was or wasn't, how it ended, and whether or not there will be a sequel, I think we need to talk about Hello, Love, Goodbye (2019)’s overarching message on the role of women and children in Filipino families—as it is one we all need to hear.
A scene that struck me:
Joy and her DH (domestic helper) friends watching Anak (2000), where Vilma Santos bursts into a tirade on the many hardships she has had to endure as a DH just to be able to provide for her family. Ugly crying hysterically—perhaps partly out of frustration and partly out of anger—Sally, Joy’s friend and fellow DH, retorts at Ate Vi’s character:
“Sa sakripisyo lang ba pwedeng ipakita ang pagmamahal?”
She added: “Pag ang babae binigay lahat, tanga. Pag pinili niya sarili niya, selfish. Saan ba talaga kami lulugar, Ate Vi?” And this makes me wish more Filipino women would see Hello, Love, Goodbye.
The film’s purpose isn’t to please the crowd, or simply entertain us. It tells our OFWs’ story, and one we can all relate to as Filipinos. More than breaking free from popular love team formulas, the film also bravely goes against ideals that we call ‘toxic Filipino culture’, such as:
Children as investment
Expectations on the eldest child to be the breadwinner and take over the family’s finances. (Note: it's one thing to willingly help out parents, especially when they are lesser able, e.g. due to sickness; but taking over family obligations as an imposed responsibility is an entirely different story)
The concept of ‘utang na loob’
Finding a lover as the be-all, end-all of a young person’s life
Sacrifice as a measure of love. Ugh
As proven in the story, I believe one way to fight these toxic ideals is to break the cycle. Thankfully, Joy overcomes her feelings of shame and guilt, and soon realizes that pursuing her dreams doesn’t mean she’s being selfish. We've only been programmed to think so, and for years, women have always second-guessed making themselves a priority—which shouldn't be!
And so Joy chooses the path that would lead her to the fulfillment she needs to have a meaningful life, and eventually, even serve others. And for someone with a lot of responsibility towards her family, and a lot of reason not to take off and stay where she is, it takes courage to finally leave everything behind, and put herself first, once and for all. And that alone deserves our applause. *put your drinks down, clap clap clap*
All the same, Ethan takes the role of a thinking, mature millennial. Read again: thinking, mature millennial. Although he is reckless and living life aimlessly at first, he grows up to become a mature lover, and even more so a responsible kuya and son (in a brood of painfully great-looking men, if I may add). When he decided to pursue his goals, I believe it was more a move that he has to do for his own sake and his own fulfillment, rather than to help his family out. After all, Ethan has learned to love healthily, and is finally taking accountability for his decisions—and not let life pass him by. He’s done with adulting, and has accepted that he is an adult and acts as one. Best of all, I appreciate how the world doesn’t magically just solves all the problems for him—he does so himself.
And therefore I conclude that Hello, Love, Goodbye should be appreciated beyond the love story and the fact that Alden and Kathryn's team-up was successful. Look closely and you’ll find in its story a brave and discerning approach on issues that Filipino millennials, women, and children should think about today. I love that it is modern—or should I say ‘woke’, is in touch with reality, and does not romanticize poverty, hardships, and sacrifices.
It’s about time we broke free from what we’ve been conditioned to feel and believe, and all the same, (as a Pinoy tita) I feel proud for Kathryn and Alden having finally broken free from their love teams, and have proving themselves worth beyond that.
Photos are from Alden Richards’ Instagram