Directed by Karlo Garcia Gino | Reviewed by Samiksha Periwal
‘Ballesteros On My Mind’ is an animated children’s film based on the narrative of a young boy who grew up in the small town of Ballesteros located in Philippines. The story follows the narrator through two different stages of his life. The first part describes his beautiful childhood days in his hometown in the early 1960s, while the second half describes his life as a special educator in Chicago, USA. This film is based on the book ‘Ballesteros on My Mind: My Hometown in the Philippines’ written by Rey E. de la Cruz. It’s a lighthearted but profound narrative about a young boy’s journey from childhood to adulthood and enjoying a successful life in an affluent metropolis.
The film opens with a description of the west sea, which plays an important role in the lives of the residents of the town. Moreover, it eventually becomes a source of plentiful food and endless interesting stories too. The peaceful and slow-paced lifestyle of this town has been proved to foster deep relationships among residents, resulting in greater togetherness and love. The memorable stories of playing by the sea, helping fishermen catch their prey, playing games and spending quality time with close relatives create pleasant images of a happy childhood, encouraging children, the apparent target audience of this film, to get out of their homes, enjoy the beauty of nature and the love of human relationships. This is especially crucial today, because children have mostly been accustomed to staying at home and involving themselves in various gadgets to entertain themselves.
A heart-breaking moment for the narrator occurs when an unexpected fire completely destroys his school building. This tragic event has a great impact on him and it acts as a motivation to resolve the problem as he recalls his memorable time spent studying, cleaning, and socializing with his friends in that very place which he refers to as his “second home.” The latter half of the film shows how the narrator grows up to be a special educator in America, inspiring young folks with his stories and reminiscing about his own childhood. In a manner, this representation completes the cycle for the protagonist, who begins his journey as a curious child in the small town of Ballesteros and ends up in one of the most prosperous countries on the planet, the United States of America.
The fact that the protagonist incorporates all the activities he used to do in Ballesteros in his present teaching represents how much he values his hometown and its culture. This message is quite relevant today even for adults who choose to move out of their hometown and settle abroad for their respective careers. The title of this film is also extremely appropriate, as we see that Ballesteros and the time the protagonist spends there have left an indelible impression on him, as he recalls it from time to time and even incorporates his childhood favorites into his teaching for his school kids. Furthermore, the relationship between nature and human life is represented through the intertwined themes of the sea and ongoing life. The emphasis on nature’s part is crucial and beneficial as a teaching tool for the film’s young audience. The narrator’s relationship with the film grandma is also a beautiful one as expressed in the story, a relationship of love and care.
This story emphasizes themes such as nostalgia, attachment, hard work, friendship, community living, and so on. These themes are ideal for children, and the video also serves as an educational effort. The graphics and animation included are also praiseworthy. For the audience, who are largely young children, it is engaging, interesting, and informative. All in all, this film is a perfect adaptation of the book ‘Ballesteros on My Mind: My Hometown in the Philippines’. It gives the audience a warm feeling and leaves them with satisfaction at the end of it. The film should definitely be shown to children across all cultures for a great learning experience.
Samiksha Periwal is an 20 year old student from Kolkata, West Bengal. She is an enthusiast, eager to learn and explore. She has done her schooling from Lakshmipat Singhania Academy, Kolkata and is currently a student of Christ University, Bangalore pursuing a triple major in BA Psychology, Sociology and English. She is a passionate writer and has won many laurels for her school through the years.