(story), (screenplay) (as Tommy David)
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview:
Rita Gomez
Eddie Arenas
Carlos Salazar
Eddie Garcia
Etang Discher
Van De Leon
Matimtiman Cruz


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Release Date:

10 April 1959 (Philippines)  »

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Serialized in Pilipino Komiks. See more »

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A harridan mother terrorizes her hapless family to the very end

TANIKALANG APOY (1959), directed by Jose de Villa from Pablo S. Gómez's story, is like a movie or play straight out of Garcia Lorca, Dostoyevsky and Tennessee Williams combined. The opening scene is grand theater, with a harridan of a mother, the haughty and manipulative Doña Roberta de Rioblanca ('Etang Discher' (qv), terrorizing her household - adult children and housekeepers alike.

'Rita Gomez (I)' (qv) plays Ester, married to Rodel Rioblanco ('Eddie Arenas' (qv)), never imagining the tortuous and agonizing existence one would have under Doña Roberta's iron hand. In one scene, the cruel mother whips her daughter Roda ('Lolita Rodriguez' (qv)) 10 times, just because Roda went through Ester's toiletries enviously. All these lashes, as the other hapless family members (and Ester, who tries to intervene), are forced to watch.

Rebecca, the eldest ('Paraluman (I)' (qv)), whose love for the hunky gardener (played with relish by 'Van De Leon' (qv) in a brief cameo) was discovered by the waspish mother and resulted in the poor guy's death, has gone mentally unbalanced. By film's denouement, Rebecca does something ghastly that claims everybody's life (except for the leads, Ester and Rodel).

Roda ('Lolita Rodriguez' (qv)) has turned to alcohol and/or morphine; at one point, she inveigles her secret lover ('Carlos Salazar (I) (qv)) to burglarize her own mother's home. (This burglary attempt is intercepted by Ester, but when mother and two sons walk in on Ester seemingly being embraced by a strange man, she is chained in a room as punishment!)

The other son, practically emasculated, is Rodrigo ('Eddie Garcia (I)' (qv)), who has to hire ladies of leisure ('Bella Flores' (qv), perfect in her brief scene) to release some pent up emotions in this terrorized household.

As the mother continues manipulating and bamboozling her adult children into submission and meek passivity, Ester stands up to her and leaves the family roost she has, in the first place, unwittingly and hesitantly joined. Her being pregnant does nothing to convince Rodel to run after her or defend her name, but only after the film's climax (the house is set to fire) do we see Rodel apologize to Ester and a tearful reunion ensues.

The whole cast give sterling performances, limning neurotic characters to the hilt and pent-up emotions boiling just beneath the surface, but for today's young generation raised on Internet, Facebook, children's rights and what-have-you, the social mores and family ties depicted in the film may be laughable, obsolete and crude, and 'Etang Discher' (qv)'s harridan mother may be incongruous, if not impossible. Nevertheless, Pablo Gomez was a masterful chronicler of the Filipino human psychology, and TANIKALANG APOY is one such essay.

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