“A clear and innocent conscience fears nothing”. This statement declared by Queen Elizabeth I to the Spanish ambassadors is a clear indicator of man’s struggle with the ever- growing weight of his conscience. Ang Larawan is a film that depicts the struggle of two sisters, Candida and Paula, as their lives begin to revolve around a painting that their father painted for them. Throughout the entire movie, each of the characters were fleshed out for all the viewers to see the true struggle of trying to be at peace with one’s self. They dealt with their inner turmoil in regard to the trial they were currently experiencing and handled exterior factors that were attempting to manipulate them to become people they could not agree to be. Many times, the conscience of man is synonymous to one’s peace within themselves.
Man has always been plagued by the heaviness of his conscience and over the years it is a constant weight that he knowingly or unknowingly carries; Ang Larawan is a movie that perfectly encapsulates this struggle. Candida and Paula were characters that were used to represent the part of society that have been plagued by their conscience yet have managed to achieve peace within themselves. Many a time art is used to represent the good but for them this was not the case.
For Candida and Paula, the painting was never meant to be a representation of beauty. No, the painting was the physical representation of the guilt and anger that was eating them up alive. They felt frustration towards their descent into poverty and regret for what they’ve blamed their father for; this was what the painting revealed about them. However, most of all, the painting represented their fear of being the children who never managed to fulfill their hopes and dreams. It represented their conscience.
It opened their eyes to all the mistakes that they’ve made, to all the anger, fear and sadness that they could not let go of. This is the reason why they both despise the painting. It was mocking them, reminding them of what could’ve been if they could only become free.
However, the reason that this painting meant so much to both of them even if it brought them this heaviness of heart is due to the fact that it also represented a new beginning. The characters were not wrong when they saw hope in the painting. The hope it brought was not in the form of money yet in the form of self-realization.
The moment Paula managed to look at the painting and realized how easily she could let go of all the pain and guilt she brought unto herself is the moment she found the courage and forgiveness that gave her peace. Without the existence of the painting, she never would have found the strength within her to become the person she wanted without caring about the thoughts of others. The painting may symbolize the weight of the past mistakes made by the sisters however it also allowed them to achieve a peace that can only stem from the acceptance of suffering. Thus, proving that conscience may be a weight to carry yet once one let goes of the misery they’ve inflicted upon themselves, true peace will be attained. Most people cannot live with the heaviness of the conscience that Candida and Paula had to carry and these people can be seen in the characters of Manolo and Pepang. Both of them had no qualms about the painting; it only became a representation of the father who they believed was a burden.
Nevertheless, there was something else that held them accountable for all the neglect and anger that they’ve shown their father and sisters. The house that they grew up in became the representation of their conscience. It reminded of all the times in the past that they spent being in love with the idea of art and not simply settling for a life of luxury. It evoked their feeling of frustration for their father who they believed turned out to be a disappointment for not using his talents to become a more influential person in society. Like Paula and Candida’s relationship with the painting, Manolo and Pepang came to despise the house that held them accountable to their actions. Despite the similarities between the experiences of Paula and Candida to Manolo and Pepang, there is one distinct difference. By the end of the movie, Manolo and Pepang have still refused to acknowledge the weight of the conscience they have been carrying. Instead of forgiving themselves and others around them, they continue to hold onto their petty prides and fight for what they believe is right.
Both of them do not receive the gift of self-realization. At the end of the movie, they do not receive the happiness and peace of mind that both Candida and Paula created for themselves. Instead, they are stuck inside the house which represents their conscience and they are unable to travel towards the good and happiness that is represented by the parade of the La Naval.
Therefore, by being unable to acknowledge their conscience and let go of the weight it brings, Manolo and Pepang have condemned themselves to a life of self-doubt and false happiness. Many say that man’s conscience only becomes a burden when he listens to it. They argue that once man stops being burdened by all the consequences of his actions then he will still be free even if his conscience is heavy. However, this mentality is proven unlikely by the film itself. There are many characters who have chosen to ignore their conscience. They have turned a blind eye to their guilt and have used this as an excuse for acting selfishly towards the people around them. Now, by the end of the movie, we all see these characters experience the same thing: the spiral into madness.
Without a clear conscience, they become afraid of ever facing the consequences of their actions. They are consistently trying to prove to themselves that they are a good person because they only followed what they believed was right. However, the entire movie pointed on an important truth. It shows that what man believes to be the right thing is not always synonymous to the right thing. The belief of man does not change the truth. Therefore, when man simply turns a blind eye to the weight of their conscience they will slowly go insane.
Man’s conscience is synonymous to the peace man finds within himself and this is the truth that Ang Larawan brilliantly portrays.