Cynthia Batin
4 min readFeb 26, 2024

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Living a life of love and faith: Reflection on Society of the Snow

What keeps you surviving? For whom do you rise? (In Tagalog: Para kanino ka bumabangon?)

The Society of the Snow is a movie by Director J.A. Bayona based on the true-to-life experiences of the survivors of the 1972 crash of the Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 in the Andes Mountains.

Society of the Snow is available on Netflix.

(Initially, I would like to describe it as a survival story of 16 young Uruguayans who managed to survive for 72 days in the harsh environment of the Andes Mountains — barren with no surviving plants nor animals, its frigid temperature, and the lack of available necessities for life to thrive except radiant energy and water. However, I find it unfair to describe it in such a fashion as there were also other passengers who did their best to survive, laid themselves for the actual survivors to return home — but were unable to, perhaps simply because dying in the Andes Mountains must be their fate).

It is a lovely story of friendship, camaraderie, trust, hope, and faith. Yes, I described it as lovely despite the gore and cannibalism — elements that may be considered disturbing to some — because why not? Entrusting your life to your comrades, and not giving up despite the odds — these are lovely, especially since the current world I live in would most likely see death as the better option.

On faith and love

One scene that struck me was the conversation between Numa and Arturo on faith, specifically Arturo’s words:

“I have more faith than I ever had in my whole life. Sorry, Numa. Because my faith isn’t in your God. Because that God tells me what I’m supposed to do at home, but he doesn’t tell me what to do on the mountain. What’s happening here is a completely different situation. Numa, this is my heaven. I believe in another God. I believe in the God that Roberto keeps inside his head when he comes to heal each of my wounds, in the God that Nando keeps in his legs and that lets him continue walking no matter what. I believe in Daniel’s hands when he cuts the meat and Fito when he gives it to us without saying which of our friends it belonged to. That way, we can eat it without having to remember their faces. That’s the god I believe in. I believe in Roberto, in Nando, in Daniel, in Fito, and in our dead friends.”

Numa and Arturo are both Catholics, as implied by their crucifix pendant hanging close to their hearts. Being in their lowest points in life, Numa still believed in the Catholic God while Arturo started believing in a different philosophy on the existence of God.

It struck me as I had similar thoughts during my postgraduate studies in New Zealand. I was able to develop friendships with people of different backgrounds — there are Christians, Muslims, Jews, agnostics, atheists and some who actually never thought about the idea of God. It is such a wonderful part of my life to be able to befriend these people — to know their beliefs, their character, their actions, and more importantly, to experience love from them, and at the same time, share love with them. Unlike Arturo, instead of questioning my faith, I started to understand what “God is love” means. It sealed my understanding of Corinthians 13 about love — “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

On living and love

In a world where most people think that dying is the better way out of misery, Society of the Snow showed me that there is no better joy than living and surviving.

For almost 2 months and a half, it is hard to believe that one can survive in an environment so barren. The extreme starvation due to the absence of food sources in the Andes Mountains resulted in the remaining survivors feeding on their comrades’ remains. Its morality may be put in question, but who are we to judge if we have never experienced living in such desperation?

Nevertheless, on your could be last chance in life, why would you still desire to survive? (Para kanino ka bumabangon?) At the end of the day, you would aim to return to come back home, not to regain your career, but to once again, meet the people you care about — to thank them, to express your love to them, and in return, receive the love from them.

I came to the conclusion, that one will survive if he/she is willing to share his/her love with others.

Final Note

Para kanino ka bumabangon?

Para sa sarili ko. Dahil maraming nagmamahal sakin at gusto kong maramdaman yun sa bawat araw.

Maybe this world lacks loving.

Share love.

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Cynthia Batin

I wander gleefully like a petal in a windy day. Food lover. Food waste hater. Got 19 beautiful cats. I write to remember.