Despite of the film's positively unappetizing title, my experience with Huwag (Seven Stars Productions) is not unlike that of reading an engrossing novel that is totally different from my life and immediate environment, but which after I'm through with it, sets me thinking, so this is how they think, how they love, how they cope with life. The "they" refers to the film's leading characters Sylvia (Beth Bautista) and Helen (Liza Lorena) who happen to be sisters in love with the same man. Huwag however, fails to weave the fabric of connections between the lives of both sisters. Sylvia was not allowed to voice out or at least intimate her thoughts, she was denied of the chance to reveal in all probability, undermine the presumption of her older sister. In as much as the film juxtaposes them against the highly melodramatic confrontation scenes, they coud have been played out the complexity of their roles in more cinematic detail. Also the film neglects to locate Helen's emotional dilemma within the range of her other roles, as daughter, sister and wife.
The biggest casualty here of course is Beth Bautista who may have given her best and barest essentials but loses her grip on character. Given a better script and direction, she could have portrayed one of the most powerful female roles in the history of Philippine cinema. The intertexts of her character are clearly myriad and poignant as she crisscrosses the rural-urban nexus. Finally, Manuel Cinco's direction greatly suffers from a kind of verbal storytelling that is bridged with maudlin music. It is disappointing to note that the best sequence in the film is the one involving Helen recounting what became of her marriage to daughter Jing-jing (Crystal) which has really nothing to do with the child 's psychological investments as the scene was merely perfunctory. On the balance, Huwag is a well-made melodrama which packs no dramatic power, only feeble sentimentality wrung dry from weeping wives, husbands and lovers. The film does not push the limits of the theme to new frontiers as the director is severely remiss in creating cinematic devices which would have scanned the erratic emotional climate weathered by wives fighting for their husband's affection. Although Huwag's lucid shifts of focus from rural to urban, from slum to subdivision speak of a mastery of the textural aspects of manners, morals and milieu.
Directed By: Manuel Cinco
Screenplay: Ed Palmos
Cinematography: Fortunato Bernardo
Music: George Canseco
Film Editor: Edgardo Vinarao
Production Design: Orly Tolentino
Produced By: Seven Stars Productions
Release Date: August 1, 1979