Shaleha Sarail hails from a water-village in Sitangkai, Tawi-Tawi. The province is a seaweed-producing area in the southernmost part of the Philippines down to the Malaysian and Indonesian archipelagos.
BRILLANTE MENDOZA – SINAPUPUNAN (THY WOMB)
Nora Aunor, Bembol Rocco
A woman of mature years, experiencing a 3rd miscarriage, Shaleha agonizes that she can’t bear a child. Though an adoptive parent to her nephew, she still feels that her husband Bangas An desires to be a father. To fulfill her husband’s only wish and to be blessed by Allah as having a child is tangible proof of divine grace, Shaleha decides to march to a different drummer. Her resolve is to find a new partner for her husband. Night and day, she and her husband sail island, floating-village, and nearby communities in search of a fertile woman. Providentially, Shaleha finds the girl as recommended by friends. But on the eve of her husband’s second marriage to Mersila, gnawing jealousy consumes Shaleha.
As a film, Sinapupunan examines the opposing natures of two women (Shaleha’s sterility against Mersila’s fertility) to reflect the prevailing condition in Tawi-Tawi, a place endowed with natural beauty and rich resources but mired in economic and socio-political crises. A quiet hell of a paradise, Sinapupunan’s “birthplace” and its environs are constant reminders of yesterday’s conflict that has remained unresolved up to the present.