“Basurero” (Dump) follows an impoverished fisherman named Bong. With a large family to support, Bong becomes desperate for money and turns to dumping a body in the water for pay. However, the grim task does little to alleviate his situation, and he begins to fear a fate similar to the “trash” he has been paid to throw away.

The production delivers a rather chilling portrayal of poverty and murder within the Philippines. It succeeds through avoidance of portraying actual acts of violence and instead focuses on how the human rights violations can affect individuals. With Bong, we get a man troubled by the burden of having to dump bodies of members of his community, in order to keep his own family safe. However, and perhaps the most frightening aspect of the narrative, comes from his inability to make a sustainable living even with the extra cash, and the realization that his body could be part of the cycle of suffering.

There is one scene in particular that really pushes the human connection and a sense of suffering. To not spoil the scene too much, in short, it shows Bong happy for the first time and trusting his skills to only have it replaced with utter defeat and sense of impending doom. It is a harrowing moment that really encapsulates the larger social problem surrounding the human rights violations taking place in the Philippines. The build up and execution of this moment is constructed effectively within the short film format. The ability to achieve a profound and chilling message within the confines of a short run-time shows that director Eileen Cabiling had a clear understanding of the statement she wanted to get across and the most effective way to deliver it.

The production does boast some impressive visuals. The opening shot at night, including the image of a body sinking through the water sets a strong tone that stays consistent throughout the production. Every shot seems well framed and location work feels spot on, filling the screen with impoverished areas, as even the land that Bong fishes off of is littered with garbage. The music compliments the visuals well, but don’t really stand on their own.

Given the serious nature of the production’s message, the lead role of Bong needed to be approached with great consideration to the film’s statement. Thankfully, Jericho Rosales delivers a memorable performance as the troubled fisherman. His ability to handle a wide range of emotions and reactions adds a lot of depth to the story, as his struggles feel real, hinting at a deep understanding of the important social message conveyed through his character.

“Basurero” is a short film that is bound to leave a strong impact on any viewer and push towards deeper conversation. The way in which director Eileen Cabiling weaves the story of human atrocities while focusing on the plights of one individual elicits a strong emotional connection to the narrative. Although the production could have thrived on it’s message alone, it boasts an eye for visual storytelling and a strong performance from Jericho Rosales. Simply put, “Basurero” is a must watch in the realm of short films.

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Hello, my name is Adam Symchuk and I am from Canada. It was during my teenage years that I became fascinated with Japanese film, in particular, exploitation and horror. I carried my fascination with the genre with me as an adult and began to grow a deeper appreciation in various genres from Japan, Korea, Thailand, and China. I hope to grow my knowledge of film across Asia and will continue to explore this through my reviews.