Ilo Ilo – Made in Singapore, Pinoy Heart, Cannes Winner

I’ve never tried watching a local film before even though I’ve lived in Singapore for more than a year. It so happens that the first Singaporean film I watched was Pinoy-related as it was about the relationship of a local family with their new Filipina helper.

Ilo Ilo has been making a lot of buzz here in Singapore since it won the coveted Camera d’Or award for best feature film at the Cannes Film Festival last May 2013. At first I only heard a Singaporean won and I was already excited, but when I heard what the movie was about, I asked my colleagues to commit watching it with me. We did tonight and all of us loved it. It is titled Ilo Ilo as the Filipina helper is from that province in the Philippines.

I think it touched me the most because I was able to relate to most aspects of the film.

Having lived here for more than a year has made me understand the culture of Singapore and it made me appreciate the struggles that the Lim family was going through.

I also saw myself in Jia Le when I was growing up as a Filipino-Chinese kid who had yaya’s changing frequently because I was very naughty. Not many people know it but Filipino-Chinese kids are brought up like Singapore-Chinese or Malaysian-Chinese kids. I think the common denominator is the strong Chinese culture of discipline and attention to hard work over emotions. Scenes like the amah’s birthday party where they all spoke in Hokkien reminded me of our own family gatherings. I was glad to understand every word they spoke in that scene.

Most important, I was able to empathize with Terry (the Filipina maid) in both being an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) and generally just being Filipino. I think the passport turnover scene, calling home and Lucky Plaza scenes were more personal for me than my colleagues. Of course the Tagalog scenes felt like home.

After the movie, I looked around and was happy that a lot of Singaporeans watched the film. I saw big groups of teens, couples and even families with their children. They seemed very pleased just like my colleagues. But I was looking around for a specific group of people, other Filipinos. I wanted to ask if their hair were also standing as the Asin song, “Kahapon at Pag-ibig” was blasting in the theater.

Thank you Anthony Chen for making this wonderful film.

Salamat Auntie Terry sa kagandahang loob mo.

Friends, please watch this film!

For more information about the film, go to their official website:

Ilo Ilo now showing in Singapore in Golden Village. Click here for more showing times:

Thank you to for the featured image.