Santa Santita (2004)

Santa Santita

Santa Santita, or Magdalena, The Unholy Saint, is a 2004 Filipino film starring Angelica Panganiban and Jericho Rosales, directed by Laurice Guillen. The film follows Malen, the daughter of an intercessor, her love affair with a hustler and gigolo, and her confrontation of the evil within her life. Based on a script by Jerry Gracio, the film was picked up by Guillen in 2000 but did not start production because an appropriate actress for Malen could not be found. After picking Panganiban, Guillen began work, and the eventual film was released on November 17, 2004, in the Philippines and March 11, 2005, internationally. Receiving good reviews from Variety and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Santa Santita was one of only two films to be rated as Grade A by the Cinema Evaluation Board of the Philippines, and represented the Philippines at the Asiaticafilmediale festival in Italy and the Bangkok International Film Festival.

Malen (Angelica Panganiban) is the daughter of Chayong (Hilda Koronel), a widowed intercessor at Quiapo Church in Manila. Selling religious charms as a way of meeting men, Malen falls for Mike (Jericho Rosales), a gigolo and hustler. Mike hustles both for his own survival and that of his son, but also because “he knows essentially he’s just strong enough and unscrupulous enough” to do so. After her mother takes umbrage at Malen’s assumed promiscuity, she moves out of Chayong’s house and stays with Mike. When her mother then dies of a heart attack, Malen feels guilt and becomes an intercessor despite having previously sworn the profession off. Initially met with mistrust by her colleagues, one of whom exclaims that “She is defiling prayer”, Malen heals a child with a hole in its heart through her prayers, despite not even praying seriously. This meets with additional hostility, both from the other intercessors and the clergy, and when Malen dreams of having stigmata, she is forced to confront the problems with her own life, something which comes to a climax when she is asked to bring Mike’s dead son back to life. A side plot involves Father Tony (Johnny Delgado), an alcoholic priest who lives with Mike. Initially his drinking partner, Mike begins to taunt the priest about his failures as the film goes on. At the end of the film, Mike is sent to prison for killing a man after a traffic accident, while Tony’s interactions with Malen convince him that he is addicted to alcohol, prompting him to return to his parish and continue serving as a priest.

Santa Santita Cast

Angelica Panganiban, Jericho Rosales, Hilda Koronel, Johnny Delgado


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