By Chuck Baclagon

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Last week me and a couple of comrades were given the chance to watch Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil’s romantic drama Lakbay2Love (L2L) ahead of its commercial screening, starring the trio of Solenn Heusaff, Dennis Trillo and Kit Thompson.

886254_500851196764578_6285588401921420540_oL2L is a love story with its fare share of cheesy romantic moments and sentimental lines that one would normally expect from a film of that genre but beyond that, the movie is also rich with lines and added attractions that convey the film’s salient message of our need to fall in love with nature.

In the movie, Trillo plays a forester and biker named Jay-R while Heusaff portrays a videographer Lianne who is making a feature about climate change. A special friendship develops between them and slowly, Lianne is able to recover from a recent heartbreak. But just as Lianne is starting to move on, her ex-boyfriend and Jay-R’s good friend Macky (Thompson) returns to turn her world upside-down amidst a backdrop of Filipino biking culture and environmentalism.

Replete with images of deforestation, urban sprawl and a wide array of scenic nature shots, it paints a picture of the excess brought about by capitalist-consumer society in the Philippines while at the same time highlighting what is at stake if we pursue the path of business-as-usual.

Noteworthy moments in the movie include the main characters riding Ifugao wodden scooters downhill; plus cameo appearances from the Firefly Brigade, and the Cordillera Conservation Trust; as well as Lianne and Jay-R’s exchange about the tension between personal and social activism, which highlights themes like individual/lifestyle actions on responding to the climate crisis as well as the theme of common but differentiated responsibility for greenhouse gases, which basically means that while everyone is responsible for climate change there are should be differentiation in implicating guilt to big per capita and historical emitters.

While the movie explores environmental themes it must be said that it shouldn’t be taken as a conventional ecological film­ – it is a love story and the subject matters touched upon merely function as a framing device in the narrative. But in spite of this, it highlights the place of love in responding to the climate crisis, an emotion that is sorely expressed in current discourse on the problem.

Moreover it raises the value of direct action as biking presents one of the many viable actions that people can take to break free from the hold of fossil fuels, which has for the past 150 years brought us development that costs us our very survival.

When looked at through the lens of “Lakbay 2 Love”, biking serves as an expression – a person’s love for the environment. Because love is a feeling that begs to be expressed, it gains personality in direct action – in “cutting out the middleman” and taking an agentic role in caring for that which is held sacred and dear.