The court of public opinion
Mario O'Hara's Bakit Bughaw ang Langit? (Why is the Sky Blue? 1981) opens by way of introduction with panoramic views of Manila. We see Babette Gomez (Nora Aunor) and her family arrive at an apartment complex; movers unload the truckload of furniture carry it into their newly rented apartment. O'Hara's camera watches as the family settles in, and we come to know each member--imperious Sofia (Anita Linda) loudly presiding over the entire operation; sullen Nardo (Mario Escudero) carrying out his wife's orders; beautiful Lorie who barks like her mother, but at a lesser volume; quiet Babette--their other daughter--skittering about doing much of the heavy lifting along with the movers.
We meet the neighbors: Marta (Melly Mallari), owner of the "sari-sari" (grocery) store at the complex entrance; Cora (Alicia Alonzo) and her unemployed husband Domeng (Rene Hawkins); Luring (Metring David) with a sideline business selling clothes, and her son Bobby (Dennis Roldan). Only courtly old Mang Jesus (Carpi Asturias) seems to notice Babette's plight; they talk about the tiny cacti she's raising, and she notes (without any trace of irony) that they flourish on very little care and water. Later, Luring offers Sofia some clothes, and her life's story--she's raising Bobby on her own, she needs to watch him all the time because he can't care for or defend himself (he's a young adult with the mind of a child) and she can't go out to earn a living. Sofia has a proposal: instead of paying for the clothes, maybe Babette can visit and feed Bobby while Luring is gone.
And so Babette finds herself with a plate of food at Luring's door looking in (you think of girls in fairy tales peering into a deep dark den, wondering at the silence). She finds Bobby upstairs, chained, sets the food before him; he sits hunched over the plate, eating with his fingers. Later, Babette asks Bobby for his basketball--to clean it, she explains; Bobby hands it over after some hesitation. For the first time in the film O'Hara cuts to a closeup--of Babette's face then of Bobby's (before this the picture is all long and medium shots). They have somehow connected.