Kita Kita: A New Piece of Myself


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            Hello everyone! Kumusta ka! Welcome to today’s episode. And it’s of a type that we haven’t exactly done before, have we? We haven’t talked about the media that comes out of the current day Philippines and would rightfully be considered part of the modern Filipino identity or culture. And, to be honest, while, it was always my intention to do that… Well, when starting something, (Music cuts) have you ever been so seized with a sense of panic so intense that give up and retreat to bed with your cats. (Music fades in) Because that’s what kept happening to me.

            But the thing is, sometimes our technological overlords might occasionally give us a hand while they mine your very valuable data to be sold to shadowy forces.

            Basically, while I try to actually not suck at my mother’s native tongue, I’ve been playing various Filipino YouTube videos in the background of my day to day life because hey, cadence might be something you can pick up through osmosis, right? I don’t know. I certainly don’t have any evidence for that. But it was worth a try, right?

            And even if it didn’t give me the expected benefit. That incomprehensible algorithm is how I found this movie: Kita Kita, a 2017 romantic comedy, written and directed by Sigrid Andre P. Bernardo and starring Alessandra de Rossi and Empoy Marquez.

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            To give you a brief synopsis, the film follows Lea—played by De Rossi—who works as a Filipino tour guide in Japan who had the great misfortune of catching her fiancé with another woman. After witnessing that, she goes blind from the shock and trauma. Well, it’s supposed to be a temporary blindness. Technically, if you want to get medical, her eyes are working, but her brain is unable or unwilling to process the stimuli because THAT worked so well when she caught her fiancé cheating. Or at least, that’s my interpretation of her illness.

            And while it should be a temporary thing, it is lasting a lot longer than anyone would like. After a while, a while without her eyesight, a fellow Filipino Tonyo (played by Marquez) befriends her, and they start to fall in love with each other.

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            And that’s all I’m going to say about plot because this is one of those very spoilable movies. But it’s on Netflix. And let’s face it. You have access to a Netflix account. Or let me just leave it at “you have access to a Netflix account” to end the discussion on availability. I saw it on Netflix in the US. And I’m really glad I did. And there are ways… no matter where you are for you to do it.

            Beyond it just being a movie from my maternal homeland, it’s quickly becoming one of my favorites. It’s not just that it has this quirky, truly indie charm. Which it does. It’s not just that it’s unlike most of the movies I watch, which it both is and isn’t. To tell you the truth, I don’t watch many movies. And it’s not that this movie felt familiar, the characters looked more like me than I usually see, which isn’t exactly true. My genes manifested themselves in a weird way.

            But actually, thematically, it both seems like a very Filipino-esque story, a very personal story, and a very profound one. And I’m sure there’s something to be said about the intersection of all those things. Beyond that it exists. There’s definitely something beyond that, which I don’t think I can fully articulate here.

            It’s just that… Well, Kita Kita isn’t an ordinary love story. Or at least, it’s not what you think of as an ordinary love story if you, like me, are thinking about it from a Western perspective. And that’s a larger discussion on cinema that’s better off in a film studies class.

            But the point is, to me, Kita Kita takes those traditional tropes or ideas that I constantly see in romantic comedies and turns them onto their heads. Or at least, it beat up the one that I really don’t like. The whole, love at first sight type thing, which leads to a chase, a pursuit. In which the lover tries to persuade the beloved to return their affection and be theirs and only theirs.

            Personally, I just think love is rightfully more complicated than that.

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            Because, yes, looks might be important on some level. I’ll offer up that inch to the argument just to cover all my bases. But at the end of the day, there’s this little thing called a façade, in which the outward appearance is actually somewhat thin and unfounded. It’s a neat little trick if you’re not on the side that’s looking in.

            I’ve known many people like that. It’s not even a physical appearances thing. There are far too many people who act and pretend to be genuinely good people just to turn around and show you just how horrible they are at the most inopportune time. It’s quite a fall when someone pushes you down in that particular way. I’ve been shoved many times in that way. Just never in a romantic context. But yeah, as a human relationship, romantic entanglements can go that way too. That’s all just par for the course.

            Considering Lea’s predicament, however…. Yeah, that’s not relevant anymore, but it was. She saw the truth behind the façade that her fiancé loved and cared about her deeply and would never betray her, and now her brain just doesn’t want to trust her eyes anymore.

            But now there’s this new young man, and a potential grand love affair to be had with him. And because Tonyo doesn’t give up easily… There’s a chance. Not a chance for her to be his but a chance for her to see again. To see the answer to what is actually a multi-faceted question.

            What is love really meant to be? Or in other words, what does it mean to love someone?

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            Kita Kita is a love story about entanglements that come not from appearance but from behavior or action. Specifically the warmth human beings can offer each other that is very much a part of the Filipino identity. More generally, though, it’s about the gifts we give each other, and not just literal ones. It is about a more complicated understanding of love in which one wills that the other have goodness in whatever form goodness may take, even if that may mean some separation between them.

            This comes forth or is expressed in a few different ways in the movie. To keep it vague, it can be in small gestures or anything that tries to pull someone out of their sadness. It’s support. It’s care. And it’s occasionally a correction. Sure, the effects can always be hard to predict, so let’s leave it about the intention. And maybe even the hope involved in such.


            What Tonyo wants, in so many spoiler-free words, is for Lea to actually see the beauty of the world around her. He wants her to see the goodness available to her, that she might come to take it when the moment is right. You see, no pun intended, Lea’s blindness isn’t just her mind’s refusal to process the stimuli her eyes are feeding her. The other side of that coin is her mind ignoring or refusing to acknowledge that there is good she could be seeing. A good that outweighs or at least equals to the bad. Like the beautiful parts of her life or the world around her. Ironically enough, it’s the sort of thing she would show people in her job as a tour guide: the job she had before she caught her fiancé cheating. But in the shock, she apparently forgot about all that—or couldn’t bear to think about it—in her state of misery after the revelation of this truly shocking betrayal.

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            And it goes further than that. But I’m starting to kind of toe the line into spoiler territory, and while I’m doing my best to avoid anything substantive plot-wise, I don’t want to take any unnecessary risks and instead want to say again that you really need to see this movie if you are any bit interested, Go do that. Seriously.

            Having said that…. Love and willing that the other person experience goodness and joy does require something out of you. To be love proper, as we see in Kita Kita you have to be the best version of yourself you possibly could be or at least willing to work to become the kind of person who comes to represent hope and promise in another. Who is—in and of themselves—goodness incarnate. Or something like that...

            That is the ultimate gesture of love, I would say. It’s the one that affects and costs you the most. It’s a type of personal sacrifice that is—on one hand—not so obviously demanding and yet, is the ultimate demand. You aren’t surrendering anything physical, but you are surrendering your habits or other worst parts of your nature. You are surrendering your complacency, the ease with which you could sit around and let your life pass you by. I mean, that might not be a great strategy for a number of reasons, but it’s an easy one to employ. It’s one that allows you to avoid quite a bit of discomfort.

            Maybe you never thought about what it would mean to take on that level of self-improvement, but so just trust me when I say that it is hard. Really, truly, and utterly difficult. Rationally speaking, it can’t be impossible. But it will definitely feel like that way.

            So it truly is a noble gesture to take that on. Never mind succeed.

            Kita Kita isn’t a love story about vision or pursuit. The young man doesn’t chase the young woman down, trying desperately to convince her to be his. Rather, it’s more like an invitation to be a part or to return to the larger and still very much beautiful world. It’s a love story not about possessing someone but about stepping outside of yourself. And that’s amazing. Unfortunately unique. I mean, there should be more out there, but I’m happy to have at least this one.

            And when I get done editing this, I will probably go watch it again.

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            This has been a production of Miscellany Media Studios. Thank you for listening. If you like the show, please leave a review or check out our other projects listed on

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