The Philippines, 2018, 112’, Tagalog with English
Directed by: Joel Lamangan
Assistant Director: Rosswhil Hilario
Script: Eric Ramos
Story: Ferdinand Dizon Lapuz, Eric Ramos, Joel Lamangan
Photography (color): Rain Yamson II
Editing: Mai Calapardo
Production Design: Jay Custodio
Music: Emerzon Texon
Sound: Alex J. Tomboc, Albert Michael Idioma
Producers: Harlene Bautista, Dennis C. Evangelista, Ferdinand Lapuz
Cast: Eddie Garcia (Ramon), Gloria Romeo (Sylvia), Tony Mabesa (Fredo), Tirso Cruz III (Emman), Aiko Melendez (Georgina), Sunshine Dizon (Fe), Max Collins (Young Sylvia), Shido Roxas (Young Ramon), Ross Pesigan (Young Fredo), Jim Pebanco (Ben), Albie Casino (Jonel), Sue Prado (Nena), Tanya Gomez (Merly), Marcus Madrigal (Andy), Zeke Sarmenta (Lara), Adrian Cabido (Jairus), Noel Comia Jr. (Rufus), Nella Marie Dizon (Bessie), Celine Juan (Glenda), Hero Bautista (Atty. Castillo), Ali Forbes (Cathy), Vince Rillon (Patrick), Ace Merfel (Richard), Lady Diane Alvaro (Donna), Tabs Sumulong (Mrs. Villacampa), Bryan Altes (Mr. Emilio Saturnino), Vicky Vega-Cabigting (Atty. Mapa), Cecile Yumul (Principal Magnaye), Mark Nepomuceno (Mr. Lim), Arthur Cabigting (Mr. Baldemor), Dola Garcia (Jet), Shane Patrick Carrera (Little Fredo), Marco Fabular (Little Ramon), Jel Makahis (Papa Ni Fredo), Vince Andre Casil Penalosa (Young Emman)
Rainbow’s Sunset finds retired senator Ramon Estrella (Eddie Garcia) coming out to his family at an elderly age to be with his dying best friend and lover Fredo (Tony Mabesa). Though his wife (Gloria Romero) is supportive, their three children – Eddie (Tirso Cruz III), Georgina (Aiko Melendez) and Fe (Sunshine Dizon) – are not. In the hopes of concealing their father’s “scandal,” they reveal more about the things they struggle to accept within their own lives.
The film paints a portrait of a dysfunctional family and a close-minded community through the lens of a budding political dynasty. Within the first ten minutes, Rainbow’s Sunset establishes the facade that the Estrella family attempts to maintain: one of strength, resilience, and moral cleanliness. Though Ramon and Fredo’s love is unjustly villainized by outsiders, we are shown that the ones who cast a stone are the ones guilty of far greater sins: Eddie has an affair with an intern, Fe dates a man younger than her, and Georgina attempts to manipulate her family to protect her newly established career as a politician.
The script oscillates between clunky dialogue and genuine moments of connection. But director Joel Lamangan and writer Eric Ramos return a figure in Filipino queer cinema that is often unseen or untold: elderly gay couples and polyamorous relationships. This is unsurprising of Lamangan, who has been involved in telling the story of many important queer narratives in Filipino cinema such as Zsazsa Zaturrnah Ze Muzikal and Mano Po. Throughout his films, traditions and norms are challenged by the arrival or existence of other characters.
As their families unravel and give in to their personal demons, the relationship between Ramon, Fredo, and even Sylvia remains untouched. Much like the ancestral home that Fredo chooses to spend his last days in, their love and support stands the test of time and circumstance. It is a pristine product of understanding and years of compromise, forged during a time when these were few and far between.
The moments that focus on Ramon and Fredo are golden. The two share an undeniable chemistry, manifesting years of waiting to be with one another with subtle looks and gestures. This holds true for their younger counterparts (Roxas and Pesigan, respectively) and love is shown through simple acts of companionship: reading a book bedside, waiting outside in a classroom, etc. Kisses are used sparingly but when they arrive on screen, they are salve for the chaos outside.
These scenes are more emotional now years after their passing, as their legacies in Filipino entertainment and queer culture are now crystallized. Garcia is well-known ally of the LGBTQ+ community for his statements of support for the community and for starring in Lino Brocka’s Dipped in Gold (Tubog sa Ginto, 1971) – the first Filipino film to openly tackle a homosexual relationship. He continues this later on with projects such as Bwakaw (2012) and Rainbow’s Sunset.
Like Garcia, Ramon continues to resist bowing down to these pleasantries of society. At the twilight of one’s life, what more are we willing to lose in adherence to society? It’s in this final commitment to generosity – one defined by honesty and rebellion – that we find the family and community transformed. Acceptance, the real kind, is a product of not only time but also of love and justice.
Joel Lamangan studied film and theater at schools in the Philippines and abroad. He acted and directed for stage and television, then took screen roles, before opting for film direction, making his debut in 1991 with his own version of Darna. Among his more notable films are The Flor Contemplacion Story, with film icon actress Nora Aunor (1995), Pusong Mamon (1998), Deathrow (2000), Hubog (2001), Blue Moon (2006), Deadline (2011) and Justice (2014). Rainbow’s Sunset (2018, with Eddie Garcia and Tony Mabesa) won nine awards at the Metro Manila Film festival.
1994 – Pangako ng Kahapon
1995 – The Flor Contemplacion Story
1999 – Sidhi
2000 – Deathrow
2002 – Mano po
2006 – Zsazsa Zaturnnah Ze Moveeh
2018 – Rainbow’s Sunset
2020 – Lockdown
2021 – Son of the Macho Dancer