‘Kung Paano Siya Nawala’ review: Hard to forget

Oggs Cruz
‘Kung Paano Siya Nawala’ review: Hard to forget
'Kung Paano Siya Nawala' is a romance that savors the beauty of faults

A man wakes up naked beside a woman. 

He looks at her with confusion, perhaps unable to recall who she is or how he got to that point where he is waking up beside a stranger. He sneaks his way back into his clothes and tries to leave the room, except that his partner wakes up. He is absolutely clueless and tries to wiggle his way out of the usual affections that are part and parcel of spending the night with a woman. He still can’t recall her.

After a brief exchange of bewildered pleasantries, he finally gets away from his precarious situation.

Promises of mutual affection

With just that first scene of Joel Ruiz’s Kung Paano Siya Nawala, it would appear that its main character Lio (JM de Guzman), the man who found himself lying half naked in a bed with a woman he doesn’t know, is a promiscuous and possibly heartless chauvinist, a man who is convincingly charming and makes most of that charm to sleep with women with flowery and fervent promises of mutual affection.

The film proceeds to follow Lio from when he purchases his daily cup of coffee, where he rewards the barista’s cheerful greeting with nonchalant gestures, to when he times in and tries his best to relate to his officemates who are obviously trying their best to welcome him with open arms. At first glance, it seems that Lio is a character who thinks he is too good for the rest of the world, and that the film is a romance about his eventual humbling. Slowly but surely, Ruiz’s film evades the common expectations and easy passages of its genre.

Definitely, romance is still in its mind, with Lio’s character seemingly swimming in a world full of women desiring him, wanting to be part of his undressing of that devil-may-care veneer. The first time that Lio gets to talk to Shana (Rhian Ramos), where both future lovers retreat from a crowded bar to serendipitously be given all the opportunities to flirt with each other, is both beautifully scripted and delightfully directed.

Their future interactions are all endearing. Kung Paano Siya Nawala is definitely defiantly about all the pleasures of falling in love and staying in love and how love eventually becomes both an escape and a prison. (READ: JM de Guzman, Rhian Ramos take on challenge as executive producers of ‘Kung Paano Siya Nawala’)

FACE BLINDNESS. JM de Guzman returns to the movies after a long absence.


Ruiz, without skirting away from his intentions to tell a captivating love story expands the reach of his film, covering the moving anecdotes of the people around Lio, from his age-conscious mother (Agot Isidro) and her string of beaus down to his little sister (Barbara Ruaro) and how his quiet but protective devotion to her represents one of the most resplendent cinematic depiction of sibling affection.

The characters are employed. They have passions and neglected social lives that they juggle with their work and romance. The film elegantly overwhelms with those lovely little details that push away the characters from the borders of being mere genre stereotypes. There is compelling motivation to their actions. There is moving history to their staggering melancholy. 


FIRST TIME. Rhian Ramos teams up with JM de Guzman for the first time in a movie.

Beauty of faults

Kung Paano Siya Nawala is a romance that savors the beauty of faults.

Draped in the softest of colors, its most sublime moments are the ones where the characters strip themselves of their shields and other charms, exposing themselves as humans that hurt and get hurt, misunderstood beings bursting with the gravest of imperfections. The film is never judgmental.

Instead, it endeavors to understand its very flawed lovers, through carefully interweaving dreams of fading pasts and promises of happier futures. More importantly, the film makes sure that it doesn’t end up as an ode to love, but it presents romantic relationships as nourishing oases in a society that is quick to criticize on the basis of facades.

The characters are almost always sad. Ramos’ alluringly large eyes bleed with all the aches of the disappointments she bears for herself and the people around her. De Guzman’s face is forever baffled, always trying to make sense of the blur that represents how he has to face the world knowing fully well that he is incapable of ever remembering the people he meets.

He should have already gotten used to his strange predicament but it persistently nags as the very constant need of humanity to continuously connect weighs on him. The very precious moments they smile and laugh and express genuine happiness are the ones that are indelibly affecting.


EMOTIONAL. Lio and Shana face the inner demons of their lives. Both JM de Guzman and Rhian Ramos also serve as co-executive producers of the movie with TBA Studios.

Stunning in its sensitivity

Kung Paano Siya Nawala is stunning in its sensitivity.

This is a film that is able to maximize not just the physical charisma of its leads but also their intuitiveness to imbibe the profound depth of what seems to be flaws borne out of narrative convenience.

The result is something that is just hard to forget.

By way of a typical love story between individuals pulled together by their faults and fallibilities, Kung Paano Siya Nawala reveals a refreshing soul, one that doesn’t scream it is unique and different from the rest but solemnly and silently proves it by its many resounding heartbeats. – Rappler.com


Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ Tirad Pass.

Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.


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