Kahit Wala Ka Na (Emmanuel Borlaza, 1989) and Nang Iniwan Mo Ako (Jose Javier Reyes, 1997) successively, one would immediately assumed that the latter is a reworking of the former. Both penned by Joey Reyes, Nang Iniwan Mo Ako seems to be an updated version of the 1989 film. All the elements are present. Each being a product of history, it caters to the demands of its time.
The Joey Reyes-Sharon Cuneta tandem seems to come up with works that I would consider underrated. Hindi siya masyadong nabibigyan nang nararapat na pansin dahil natatabunan ito nang mas maingay na trabaho ni Sharon sa taong iyon. Sa Hirap at Ginhawa (Leroy Salvador, 1984), another Reyes writing, is far better than Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin? (Borlaza, 1984). Subalit ang pagbabalik-tambalan nina Sharon at Gabby Concepcion sa nasabing huling pelikula ang mas pinaboran. (The former though is another Sharon-Gabby starrer.) Mas napansin ang pagganap dito ni Sharon dahil ito ang kanyang unang sabak sa adult role.
Ang Kahit Wala Ka Na ay kasabayan ng Babangon Ako't Dudurugin Kita na isang pelikulang dinirehe ni Lino Brocka. Isang inapi subalit lumabang asawa ang papel ni Sharon dito na maituturing na isa sa highlights ng kanyang career. Madrama ang tema ng pelikula. May iyakan, intriga, at aksiyon. Sinamahan pa si Sharon ng mga de kalibreng artista katulad nina Christopher de Leon, Hilda Koronel, at Bembol Roco na kapwa hinubog sa mga kamay ni Brocka. A grand film with an acting ensemble.
Samantala, Madrasta (Olivia Lamasan, 1996) ang sinundan ng Nang Iniwan Mo Ako kung saan nanalo si Sharon ng grand slam best actress. It was a breakthrough performance for she had never exhibited such subtle acting in any of her films before. Hindi magalaw, hindi exaggerated. Tahimik na nagdurusa at lumalaban. To be the one which follows it would be such a feat. Kuwento nga ni Reyes, "We were pressured to elicit a performance which would match Madrasta. At the same time, not look like it. She delivered exactly what I wanted because she is such an intelligent woman (De la Cruz 321)." Thus, he considers it to be one of the films he derived most satisfaction from.
I, myself, consider Nang Iniwan Mo Ako as one of his best works. In fact, his team up with Sharon are all noteworthy including their last effort Kung Ako Na Lang Sana in 2003. They are my favorite among all Sharon films. Being friends with Sharon, he is able to translate her (real and reel) character well onscreen particularly in their last two films together.
Tila naputulan ng kamay at paa si Amy sa paglisan ni Anton. Hindi niya malaman ang kanyang gagawin sapagkat inangkla niya ang kanyang buhay sa asawa. Sa pag-alis nito ay tila bahagi ng kanyang buhay ay namatay rin. May mga pangarap na naglaho. May mga kinabukasang hindi na maisasakatuparan. Paano na siya kung ang araw na iniikutan ng kanyang mundo ay wala na? Saan siya kukuha ng lakas? Saan siya maghahanap ng liwanag?
With the help of her family and friends, Amy slowly picks herself up. Mahirap sa simula subalit natagpuan niya rin ang kanyang sarili. Napagtanto niyang huwag iasa sa iba ang kanyang kaligayahan at seguridad maliban sa sarili lamang sapagkat hindi siya tunay na magiging maligaya kung hindi buo ang kanyang pagkatao.
The movie's message sounds like a cliché, but for a Sharon Cuneta movie, it isn't. Kadalasan ay umiinog ang mundo ng karakter ni Sharon sa kanyang kabiyak, wawaglit upang hanapin ang sarili, at muling magbabalik sa piling ng lalaki. Nang Iniwan Mo Ako aims to be different, at ito ang nag-angat sa iba pang mga pelikula ni Sharon. (Or other Pinoy films for that matter.) It is true to its core and adheres to what it says.
This is a rare occasion in Philippine cinema where the wife rejects the apologetic husband. As a nation which gives importance to the sanctity of marriage, oftentimes, we put the vows above everything else. But what is a marriage if one can’t keep the vows anymore? Should a wife be thankful and accepting just because her husband learned from his wicked ways even if she has lost all respect and love for him? Just because you have a marriage to maintain?
This ending didn't sit well with the censors. Reyes relates, "They wanted to slap an adult rating because Sharon Cuneta rejected her husband. ... It's even worse than censoring sex. They think that it's morally wrong for the maltreated wife not to take her contrite husband. I think that attitude is more dangerous than showing boobs (De La Cruz 313)."
Nang Iniwan Mo Ako is pro-woman all the way and “pro-choice” to say the least. Amy is a picture of a woman who lost herself and finds her way back because of a man—when he marries her in the beginning and when he left her later on. Natuto siyang tumayo kung saan siya nadapa.
Dagdag pa rito ay ang conscious effort ni Reyes na ipasok sa storyline ang lumalaking timbang ni Sharon. Wika niya, "Sharon was asking me if she should lose weight for this role, to become svelte and sexy at the end. I said no. ... I said you should glow because you have self-confidence in the end. You don't glow because you've become sexy. That's so chauvinist. If you've become slender and beautiful for a man, you're still not happy. But if you're fat and happy, you're beautiful. Because you know who you are. And you know you're worth (De la Cruz 312)." Obviously, hindi tanggap ni Reyes ang superficial na pagtingin sa timbang. Hindi nito nasusukat ang pagkatao. At lalong hindi ito ang dapat maging batayan ng kabutihan at kagalingan ng tao.
Opposite sa palikerong si Anton ay ang sensitibong si Mike na mahilig sa halaman. He always lends an ear to listen to Amy and is responsive to her needs. He may be a persistent suitor, but he doesn't force himself on her. Tila isang "ideal man". An ideal man, Reyes describes, “is not one who’s too preoccupied with being a man, but who is more concerned with being human (De la Cruz 314).” Such man has no issues crossing the line between masculinity and femininity. In fact, for him, such boundaries do not exist. Nagagawa niya ang kanyang gusto niya na hindi kinukuwestiyon ang kanyang pagkalalaki.
(But since he is an "ideal man", does he truly exist? O nananatiling lamang siya sa mga pelikula ni Joey Reyes?)
Ito ang mga bagay na stand out sa pelikulang Nang Iniwan Mo Ako. Tahimik siyang maituturing subalit nagsusumigaw sa kanyang mensahe. Madaldal siya ngunit hindi mababaw ang kanyang sinasabi. Hindi maarte at sapat na emosyon lamang ang binabahagi.
De la Cruz, Emmanuel. "Interview with Jose Javier Reyes." Ed. Nicanor Tiongson. The Urian Anthology: 1990-1999. Philippines: UP Press, 2010.