When your passion for a good cause meets the things and people you love, you know you are travelling the right road…or trail, in this case.
Such is the backdrop of the country’s first bike-themed movie “Lakbay2Love” produced by Erasto films, directed by Ellen Ongkeko Marfil. As the title suggests, it is a romantic coming of age independent film on the journey to life and love. More than just your usual love flick, the film was used as an instrument to enlighten viewers on the current global climate crisis, through the lens of popular culture. Very rarely does Philippine cinema create materials that tackle social issues such as environment protection. Through common elements of recovering from a heartache, falling in love and finding oneself, but with a strong message to protect the environment, the film has the perfect chemistry of true love.
The story is set after typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan’s destruction. It revolves around the journey of French-Filipino videographer Lianne to life and love.
Portrayed by Solenn Heusaff, Lianne confronts her love woes after a break up with long time boyfriend Maki, played by actor Kit Thomson. Needing to stop her depression, she embarks on a project tackling biking and environment. She meets forester and biking enthusiast Jay-R (Dennis Trillo) who challenges her to experience how the love for biking can make one deepen love for nature.
While slowly recovering from her heartaches through biking and discovering the beauty of life through nature, she develops a special friendship with Jay-R. Later, her ex-boyfriend Maki (Kit Thomson) returns and tries to win her love back. The three travel their connected lives mostly on eco-trails, riding their bikes, along with other bikers. Having traveled the scenic nature spots like La Mesa Ecopark, Rizal, Bulacan and Benguet, Lianne discovers love for environment and herself, which is enough to fuel her journey to life.
At the first public screening of the movie held in University of the Philippines Diliman, Director Ellen Marfil shared that her inspiration for the movie was her own advocacy in environmental conservation. She said she wanted to expose her son to the beauty of outdoor life. Through her mountaineer and biker friends, she realized that if we do not start to act, our children will no longer see nature’s beauty the way we see it now.
Marfil said “Lakbay2Love” is her contribution to raising awareness on environment conservation.
The movie had an exceptional “green carpet premier,” on the grass grounds of UP Diliman Ampitheater, preceded by a symbolic bike ride led by the cast including Dennis Trillo and Solenn Heusaff. They were joined by 200 bikers from different groups notably Firefly Brigade and UP Bike Share. Most of the bikers wore statement shirts or that say “share the road”, “I bike for cleaner air.” According to the organizers, the event is the first-ever bike-concert and outdoor premier movie screening in the country.
The journey to a cleaner and better world
Global warming brings drastic changes in temperature, climate and weather and adversely affects biodiversity, forest cover, water supply, agriculture, health, and ultimately, our people’s lives. The film was inspired by the lessons that Filipinos learned from Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. After Haiyan struck in 2013, the Philippines has been listed as top country affected by climate change in the Global Climate Risk Index.
The much-hyped Conference of Parties (COP) 21 in Paris last year failed to come up with a long-delayed climate protocol that imposes obligated, quantified, and ambitious emissions cuts on industrialized countries and their corporations, according to Leon Dulce of environment group Kalikasan PNE.
In Metro Manila, traffic congestion and pollution worsens day by day. Transportation sector’s emission alone accounts for 15% of the greenhouse gasses (GHGs) globally. Given this situation, it’s time to rethink national policies to make mass transportation more efficient, and make biking one of the specific alternatives.
Lakbay2Love ‘hugot lines’ and lessons
The movie is a powerful eye-opener about the worsening climate crisis. Through cheesy, but meaningful “hugot lines”, viewers can directly relate feelings of romantic love to love for the environment.
Here are some of the winning hugot lines or messages that were conveyed in the movie:
- “When the world is crumbling in on you, love may find you a new trail.”
Though not mentioned by the actors, Erasto films use this tag line in their media materials. This is actually the gist of the movie – with the help of love (the special friendship with Jay-r, forgiving her ex and loving nature, Lianne finds a new and better life trail to ride.
The same hugot line can be applied to the climate crisis the world is suffering. More and more destructive typhoons and extreme weather events like Yolanda are happening across the globe, more and more countries are experiencing flooding and extreme drought, new and rare diseases are affecting people. We are losing lives because of worsening global warming brought about by unabated emission of green house gasses through the decades, particularly carbon dioxide.
However, if we discover the love for biking, we can do our part in reducing our carbon footprints. Biking, on the other hand burns no fossil fuels (only calories) to get you where you want to go. It is time that we consider taking the new trail, the better trail.????
- “Get lost in nature and you will find yourself.”
This is another motivational quote used by the production for promotion. Lianne searched for herself while exploring nature trails during filming. After getting lost literally in one bike ride with Jay-r, being engrossed in places to ride next, she finally finds herself. This also works for many bikers and nature lovers who use biking and love for environment to gather their selves together, think clearly and make life decisions while basking under the sun and tree shades and climbing/riding mountains.
- “I will not give her up. I will fight for her”
In the movie, Maki (Kit Thomson) tried to win back Lianne after he felt that she and Jay-r are developing feelings for each other. Though Maki did not win back Lianne and Jay-r did not actually battled it out with him, Maki fought for his love. We should actually be like Maki in fighting for our right to clean air, by riding our bikes and having safe bike lanes.
- “Thank you God! Ito ang mga dapat ini-Instagram, mga puno, bundok, skies…hindi yung mga bagong girlfiend” Lianne (Heusaff)
Need I say more?
- “If you want to change something, you have to fall in love.”
Speaking before the biking community, students, couples and other moviegoers, the film’s director said this beautiful line to express how falling in love with biking and nature can help change the world, one bike at a time.
“Lakbay2Love” is a powerful film that used the universal feeling to convey the strong message to love our environment, the planet we call our home. It is beautifully told through a journey (paglalakbay) of love for oneself, others, and our world.
The film had a week-long screening in selected theaters in Metro Manila from February 3-10. It will be also shown in other cities, provinces and schools around the country. For screening updates, follow their facebook account Lakbay2Love.