*based on a true story
Language of Dialogues: Pangasinan, Arabic, Iloko with English subtitles
Story, Screenplay, & Direction: Valentina Vidal
Shooting Location: Dhofar Mountains, Oman
Style and Narrative Structure: A poetic film with an episodic structure
*Inspired by a true story
Leonora Perez (63), a Filipino migrant worker employed as a shepherdess for a family farm is stranded on a remote mountain village in a Middle Eastern country for twenty one years. She endures the harsh mountain cold, threats of imprisonment and deportation from the authorities, homesickness, unpaid salaries that has accumulated over the years, near insanity, and isolation in a foreign country that is hostile, while at the same time, a country that is holy and beautiful.
Leonora earns a small monthly salary of 180 USD which she sends regularly to her family in the Philippines. Her meager salary was able to feed her family throughout the years and it was also able to send her only daughter Rubirosa to the university. Leonora?s faith in God, her unconditional love for her family, and her golden heart makes her endure all the hardships in the host country for 21 years.
Leonora is visited by seven mysterious characters whose arrival creates a disturbance on the silence and routine in Leonora?s life on the remote fog-covered mountain village revealing various aspects of her character, identity, memory, experience, and struggle as a migrant worker.
The first mysterious visitor to the village is Leonora?s original employer, the seventy-six year old Majed who arrived one early morning to finally die in peace. The second mysterious visitor is a six-year old Filipino girl naming Rubirosa whom Leonora called her one and only daughter from the Philippines. The third mysterious visitor to the remote village is Leonora?s city-based Arab employer Ahmed, Majed?s son, who arrived to inspect the family?s flock of sheep which he has sold in advance to a restaurant in the city. The fourth mysterious visitor is Vivian Malicdem, a runaway Filipino maid pregnant with child who eventually stole all of Leonora?s money and left. The fifth mysterious visitor is Saleh, the local police officer who arrived to detain Leonora in the prison because of her long-expired foreign residence card. The sixth mysterious visitor is Atty.Emma Cayabyab, a high official from the Philippine Embassy who came to convince Leonora to withdraw the labor case she filed against her current employer Ahmed and receive instead a small settlement money so she could finally go home to the Philippines. The last mysterious visitor to the mountain village is the exiled poet and intellectual Jose Tagulao who returned to visit Leonora in her old stone house hoping to write an online article about a loyal Filipino servant who endured slave-like conditions in a remote mountain village for twenty one years.
Leonora Perez ? a migrant Filipino worker employed as a shepherdess for a family farm in a remote village on the mountainous region of a conservative but oil-rich Middle Eastern country. She came from the Pangasinan province in the northern Philippines. She is a widow and the mother to a young woman naming Rubirosa left under her sister?s care in her hometown. She is in her early fifties. (Ching Valdez-Aran or Fe GingGing Hyde or Connie Lauigan-Chua)
Majed Al-Ghamdi ? Leonora?s 76-year old Arab employer who lives with his son Ahmed in the city which is a four hours drive from the village. He was Leonora?s original employer or sponsor (khafeel) who is a fair and generous employer giving Leonora what the law demands or even more. (Jaime Fabregas)
Ahmed Al-Ghamdi ? the son of Leonora?s original employer or sponsor Majed. He lives with his family in the city and visits the family farm in the mountain village during the religious holidays and during the summer. He is in his mid-forties. (Ernie Garcia)
Rubirosa – a vision of Leonora Perez?s six- year old daughter whom she had left in her hometown in the Pangasinan province twenty one years ago. In all the scenes where she would appear, she would not utter a single word.
Vivian Malicdem ? a 41-year old runaway Filipino maid who used to work for an Arab family in the city. She also came from the Pangasinan province in the northern Philippines (Fe GingGing Hyde, or Angeli Bayani, or Eula Valdez, or Gilleth Sandico)
Saleh Al-Ghamdi ? a 49-year old Arab policeman who runs the local police outpost located a few kilometers from Leonora?s village (Perry Dizon)
Atty. Emma Cayabyab – the 60-year old consul-general of the Philippine Embassy in the Middle Eastern country where Leonora Perez is working. She came from the Tarlac province in the northern Philippines. (Ching Valdez-Aran or Madeleine Nicolas)
Jose Tagulao – a 38-year old migrant Filipino worker based in the city of the Middle Eastern country where Leonora Perez resides. He also came from the Pangasinan province in the northern Philippines. He was an award-winning poet from the Philippines before coming to work in the Middle East. He is also a volunteer for a migrant advocacy group actively documenting distressed Filipino workers in the Middle East. (John Lloyd-Cruz, or Lowell Conales, or Cedrick Juan)
Melinda Casingal ? a twenty-three year old distressed Filipino maid employed by an elderly Arab couple in Leonora Perez?s village. She came from Itogon, Benguet in the northern Philippines. (Donna Liza Cariaga or Althea Vega)
A Flock of Sheep (20) which is the property of Leonora?s current employer Ahmed
*All the scenes take place in a remote village situated on the fog-covered mountains of a conservative but oil-rich Middle Eastern country. During the summer months of July to September, the khareef or monsoon winds from the Indian Ocean arrives on the mountainous region creating a high level of precipitation, mist, and fog. The dry desert becomes a verdant forest during the khareef or monsoon season.
The language of most of the dialogues and voice-over narration will be in Pangasinan, an indigenous language of one of the largest ethno-linguistic communities in the northern Philippines. Dialogues between the main character Leonora Perez and the Arab characters will be in Arabic. Dialogues in a few scenes will be in the Iloko language and the Filipino language.
Unit 1. Khareef (The Monsoon)
Seq 1.Ext. Mountains. Day.
It is dawn. The cold winds from the nearby sea (Indian Ocean) arrive on the cliff of a mountain landscape. Soon, fog is created and mist and a light rain envelopes the dry and barren mountain landscape. The khareef or monsoon season has arrived.
We hear the voice of a six-year old Filipino girl reciting selected passages from the Exodus of the Holy Bible in the Pangasinan language. The child?s voice reciting passages from the Exodus would be heard until the next sequence.
YOUNG FILIPINA GIRL?S VOICE
?Et si Moises inyuna?to so lima to ed dayat;
et pinasener na Dios Ama so dayat ed impangipakana to
na maksil a dagem ed bukig ya sanlabi,
tan impagmaliw to so dayat ya amaga a dalin,
et abelsay so danudanum. (A Pause)
Et saray anak na daan ya dalin
sinmelak ira ed nanleetan na dayat ed tapew na amaga a dalin:
et saray danu-danum singara pader nen saman
ed sikara ed dapag a kawanan tan dapag ya kawigi ra.?
?And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea;
the Lord God turns back the sea
with a strong wind from the east for a night,
and the earth between the waters was dry
and the children of the old land
passed through it on dry ground
the waters were like walls then
from their right and left.?
We see an isolated village in the remote mountain landscape. It is covered in rain.
Seq. 2.Ext./Int. Old Stone House.Day.
It is dawn. A middle-aged FILIPINO WOMAN awakens from her dream.
Seq.3.Int. Old Stone House. Day.
The Filipino woman prepares her packed meals.
In a while, she goes to the mirror and tidies up her work clothes.
The Filipino woman is looking at the wet yard of the house. She looks at the cloudy and foggy skies. It dawns upon her that the khareef or monsoon season has arrived in the remote mountain village.
The Filipino woman goes out of the old stone house. She goes to the pen and brings out the sheep who immediately walks out of the front yard of the house.
Seq.5.Ext.Outskirts of the Village.Day.
The Filipino woman is driving the flock of sheep up a trail leading to the mountain pasture. The residential area of the village consisting of several stone houses is seen on the background.
The Filipino woman is seen driving the flock of sheep up a steep mountain trail.
Seq. 7.Ext.Mountain Pasture.Day.
The Filipino woman and the flock of sheep arrives at the mountain pasture. The sheep immediately graze on the young grass.
The woman sees a familiar figure seated on a big boulder stone under a tree. The woman walks towards the OLD MAN seated on the stone. The woman recognizes the old man immediately. He is Majed Al-Ghamdi, the Filipino woman?s original sponsor. The old man looks weak and unwell. They talk in the Arabic language.
Peace be upon you.
Upon you be peace.
Ma hu alwaqt aldhy wasalat fih baba majidan?
What time did you arrive Baba Majed?
Jit eindama bada aldiyk fi altazhlq.
I came when the rooster started crowing.
Sawf qubid ealaa albard min huna. Daeuna naeud ‘iilaa munzalik.
You will catch the cold out here. Let us go back to your house.
The woman helps the old man rise.
The woman is pouring hot coffee on a cup and serves it to the old man.
Abnak ‘ahmad lm yurafiqk fi rihlatik.
Your son Ahmed did not accompany you on your trip.
Hu maraydun. Wahu yastarih fi manzilih mae zujtih.
He is sick. He is resting at his home with his wife.
A brief silence follows.
Hal ‘ant bikhayr? Kunt tabdu ealaa ma yaram alyawm.
Are you alright? You look unwell today.
Ladaya sueubat fi altanafus fi hadhih al’ayaam almady. ‘Aetaniun tabibiun bed al’adwia waqal li ‘an tatanafas bed alhawa’ alnaqi.
I have trouble breathing these past days. My doctor gave me some medicines and told me to breathe some fresh air.
The old man is preparing to nap in the carpet. The woman enters.
Hal tahtaj ‘iilaa shay’ Baba Majd?
Do you need something Baba Majed?
I am fine.
Hal tanawalat ‘adwiatuk balfel?
Have you taken your medicines already?
Wa’awad ‘an ‘atruk lakum lifatrat min alwaqt waleawdat ‘iilaa al’aghnam.
I would leave you for a while and return to the sheep.
The woman is preparing a meal on the table. She notices her master struggling very hard to move himself into a supplicating position in the prayer area of the house. The woman leaves the table and helps her master move into a praying position.
Seq.11. Int. House.Night.
Majed is warming in front of the hearth. Once in a while, he looks at the woman who is busy cooking a meal on the stove.
Inside a room, we see the woman who is still awake deep in her thoughts. In a few moments, she rises from her bed and walks to the room of the old man to check his condition.
Inside the old man?s room, the woman places a blanket over the old man?s body. The old man is sleeping soundly during the night.
Dawn has arrived on the mountains.
Majed is walking on the steep mountain trail with the woman as the flock of sheep walk ahead of them.
The woman watches the old man boil water for the coffee.
Majed and the woman are drinking coffee as the flock of sheep continues to graze on the mountain pasture.
The old man and the woman walk to the edge of the cliff on the mountain pasture.
Upon arriving there, the old man shows the woman the boundary of his land which he had inherited from his ancestors.
Hal taraa tayar hunak?
Do you see the stream over there?
‘Ana ‘amlik al’ard min hdha aljabal al’aelaa ealaa tul altariq wusulaan ‘iilaa ‘ana tayar nahn naraa. Warithatahum jamieaan min ‘aslafi.
I own the land from this mountain top all the way down to that stream
we are seeing. I inherited them all from my ancestors.
The mountain fog is seen covering the full moon.
The woman is busy cooking a meal by the stove. From a distance, she looks at her master who is busy praying at the prayer room.
The old man and the woman are eating their evening meal quietly together.
While drinking tea, Majed watches the woman replace his beddings with newly washed linens. The woman finishes the task. The old man calls on the woman to come to him.
Leonora goes to the old man.
Mataa jit li’awal marat hna?
When did you first came here?
Wasalat ‘iilaa almamlakat qabl eshryn eamana.
I arrived in the Kingdom twenty one years ago.
The old man brings out his wallet from a small cabinet inside his bedroom. He slowly pulls out a few paper bills and strains to look at them one by one because of his poor eyesight.
Hadha hu ratibuk lhdha alshahr.
This is your salary for this month.
Leonora proceeds to count the money.
Hadha hu alkthyr min baba
This is too much Baba.
Khudh kla shay’an. tastahiquha. laqad kunt khadimana jayidaan lana.
Take it all. You deserve it. You have been a good servant to us.
Thank you Baba.
Leonora sees the old man retire to his bedroom to sleep.
Leonora is busy writing a message on a birthday greeting card at the dining table. She places a paper money on the birthday greeting card. She finishes her task.
Leonora sees that the old man is already asleep in his room. She walks to the living room and switches the light off leaving a small table light lamp open.
Dawn has arrived at the village. We hear the crowing of a rooster from a distance. The adan or call for the early morning prayer (fajr) is heard from the village mosque.
Leonora awakens from her bed.
Leonora is cooking a breakfast meal.
Leonora walks to the entrance of his master?s bedroom. She sees he is still lying at bed.
Leonora walks out of the house into the sheep?s pen.
At the sheep?s pen, Leonora is caressing a baby sheep that had just been born last night. Leonora is very delighted at having the new addition to the flock and caresses the baby sheep like it is her very own child.
Leonora returns to the kitchen and sets the table ready for breakfast with his master. In a while, Leonora starts calling on her master to arise so they could now eat breakfast together. Leonora sits down on a chair.
Taal Baba! Daeuna naakul wajabat al’iiftar ladayna!
ComeBaba! Let us eat our breakfast!
After a while, the woman calls again on her master.
Baba, yrja tati huna litanawul wajabat al’iiftar alkhasat bk!
Baba, please come here to eat your breakfast!
There is still no reply. Leonora rises and leaves the dining table alarmed.
Leonora enters the bedroom of his master. She sees that the old man is still lying in bed. She calls on him to awaken but he does not reply.
The woman approaches the old man and rouses him.
Baba Majed . . . .
He does not reply. The woman touches the old man?s face and looks at his eyes. She sees that he is no longer breathing and is lifeless. The old man has died during his sleep.
Leonora becomes stricken for a few moments but regains herself immediately.
Fade out to black.
Unit 2. Rubirosa
At a promontory on the mountain, A SIX YEAR OLD FILIPINO GIRL is secretly watching Leonora drive the pasture up a trail a few hundred yards away. The young girl is wearing a white formal dress usually worn by young girls in the Philippines during their First Communion in the Roman Catholic church of the town.
Seq. 29.Ext. Mountain Trail.Day.
At a cliff, the young girl secretly watches Leonora drive the flock of sheep towards the woodlands.
Concealed by a shrub, the young girl secretly watches Leonora reading a letter while the flock of sheep graze on the shoots of grasses and plants.
Concealed by a shrub, the young girl watches Leonora attend to one of the young sheep.
In a few moments, the young girl decides to reveal herself to Leonora. She leaves the shrub and walks towards Leonora who becomes very surprised at seeing her.
Leonora acknowledges the arrival of Rubirosa, her six-year old daughter from the Pangasinan province in the northern Philippines.
Rubirosa. . .
The child is quiet. A silence follows.
Abayag la so apalabas nen pinmasyar ka dya?d sayan kapalandeyan.
A long time had passed since you last visited me on these mountains.
The child remains quiet. Another silence follows.
Agka mapaga anako.Mabilay ni so inam.
Do not worry my child. Your mother is still alive.
Leonora embraces her daughter tightly and breaks into tears.
Leonora and Rubirosa gather wild flowers in the forest.
Leonora places the crown of wild flowers on the head of Rubirosa. Leonora stares at her young daughter admiring her beauty highlighted by the crown of flowers.
My daughter ?.
Leonora and Rubirosa are happily playing a game of run and chase.
Under the shade of a tree, Leonora sings Lawas Kan Pinabli a famous Pangasinan folk love song to Rubirosa who has lied on her lap due to her tiredness from their game of chase and run.
Sequence 35. Ext.Forest.Day.
Leonora and Rubirosa gather wild fruits from shrubs and small trees. The two eat the ripe fruits immediately upon plucking them from the trees.
Leonora and Rubirosa are walking on the forest.
Leonora and Rubirosa arrive at the entrance of a cave. They stop and decide if they would go inside.
Duamplo tan sakey ya taon ak lan manaayam ed sayan kapalandeyan balet agko ni asurob iyan ungib. (A pause) Ibabaga daray matataken ed sayan pasen ya say jin o bantay na palandey et ayaman to yan ungib. Ibabaga da ya sayan ungib so nanlapuan na iray ninuno da nen saman tan samay jin so bantay to yan pasen.
In all the twenty one years I have lived on these mountains, I never dared enter this cave. (A pause) Old people in this village say the jin or the spirit of the mountain lives inside this cave. They say this cave is the emergence area of their ancestors and the jin is the guardian to this sacred portal.
In a few moments, Rubirosa slowly enters the cave followed by Leonora.
It is already late afternoon in the forest. Several hours have passed since Leonora and Rubirosa has entered the cave. In a few moments, Rubirosa comes out of the cave?s entrance followed by Leonora. They both have experienced a divine revelation inside the sacred cave.
Leonora and Rubirosa arrive on the shallow stream or wadi.
They both kneel on the earth and start drinking the water from the stream.
Suddenly, as Leonora drinks the water, she sees strange but familiar objects from the Philippines buried underneath the shallow stream like the old photographs of Leonora?s daughter Rubirosa and family in the Pangasinan province, old coins from the Philippines, Catholic religious images from the Philippines, an old gun from the Philippines, old clay cooking and fermenting vessels from the Philippines, a rusting sickle used at cutting rice grains, old porcelain plates from the Philippines, an old round mirror from the Philippines, and a rusting bolo or bladed weapon from the Philippines.
Leonora and Rubirosa closely watch these objects buried underneath the shallow stream.
At the dry banks of the stream, Rubirosa and Leonora has lied down and are resting. In a few moments, Rubirosa rises and bids her mother Leonora farewell. She embraces her mother tightly.
Pitepel mo pa anako. Aalagaren kon iter na amok so amin ya atipon ya suwildok ed imbebeneg iran taon. Aalagaren ko met ya iter to so end of service ya bayar ko ed duaran dekada ya inpanlingkor ko ed pamilya to. Makapanpaalagey tayo na melag ya abong no naawat ko yan kuwarta. Naksawan ak la anako. Asabik la so anggaan ko. Bangbalet agko lingwanan ya ontawag ed Diyos piyan itdan to ak ya lanang na biskeg na kanunutan.P iyan makapan-iba ta lamet tan saray arum ya pamilya tayo diya?d Pangasinan. (A pause) Akulaw ak la. Gabay ko la so unsempet ta agko lablabayen ya naandi so bilay ko diya?d sayan pasen.
Please bear with me my love. I am waiting for my master to give my unpaid wages from the past years. I am also waiting for him to give my end of service pay for the two decades I worked in his family. With this money, we can build a small house at home. (A pause) My child, I am already very tired and I am now losing my patience. But I will continue to pray to God so that he will keep me stronger. And I will be finally reunited with you and our entire family in Pangasinan. (A pause) I am now an old woman. I want to go home because I do not want to die alone in this place.
In a few moments, Leonora sees Rubirosa walk away on the shallow stream. Soon, Leonora sees Rubirosa disappear on the fog that has engulfed the shallow stream.
Fade out to black.
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