There was a time when Philippine film was internationally recognized. The international audience were moved by how marginalized people from third world countries find hope despite their poor living condition. This was unintentionally pioneered by Lino Brocka’s films, which heavily focused on the lives of the poor. His films brought light to the issues happening in seemingly peaceful third world countries. He wanted to make films that inspire nationalism and patriotism. Bayan ko: Kapit sa Patalim was no exception. It was about a minimum waged laborer who needed a raise from his boss to pay the medical bills of his wife. However, in order to get his raise, the laborer was forced to sign a waiver promising not to join labor unions. But this backfired as his friends turned against him, thinking that he was on the corporate’s side. Conflicted, the laborer goes into a life of crime to get the money he needs.
Brocka took inspiration from true to life events, to mirror the effects of the government’s corruption. Being a strong advocate to the freedom of expression in the Philippines, it goes without saying that Brocka wasn’t a fan of the late President Marcos’ dictatorship. The title of the film, “Bayan Ko”, is also the title of Ninoy Aquino’s patriotic song. It is a clear manifestation of Brocka’s intentions for the film. Brocka smuggled the film out of the country and presented it to the Cannes Film Festival. In which he also reported that the film was censored in his home country. This made the international community more woke and vocal about the injustice happening in the Philippines. Even when Brocka got jailed as soon as he arrived in the Philippines, it was a small price to pay for the freedom of expression of every artist and citizen of the nation.