The title refers to an old Filipino architectural superstition saying that design elements in a house (particularly staircases) should not end in a multiple of three, in keeping with a pattern of oro (gold), plata (silver), and mata (bad luck). The film is structured in three parts that depict this pattern played out in the lives of the main characters, from a life of luxury and comfort in the city ("oro/gold"), to a still-luxurious time of refuge in a provincial hacienda ("plata/silver"), and finally to a retreat deeper into the mountains, where they are victimized by bandit guerillas ("mata/bad luck").
Two more family friends a doctor, Jo Russell (Valdez), guerillas and Viring (Villanueva) join them. As the enemy advance, the families move to the Lorenzos forest lodge. A group of weary guerillas arrive and Jo tends to their injuries. The guerillas leave Hermes Mercurio (Lazaro) behind. Miguel endures more comments of the same kind when he fails to take action against a Japanese soldier who came upon the girls bathing in the river. It is Mercurio who kills the Japanese. Maggie comforts Miguel, who decides to learn how to shoot from Mercurio. Meanwhile, Virings jewelry is stolen by Melchor (de la Cruz), the trusted foreman. He justifies his action as a reward for his services. He tries his to break the other servants loyalty, but they force Melchor to leave. Later, Melchor and his band of thieves return. They raid the food supplies, rape Inday and chop off Virays fingers when she does not take off her ring. Trining goes with the bandits, despite all the crimes they have committed against her family. These experiences committed Maggie and Miguel closer together. Miguel urges the survivors to resume their mahjong games to help them cope. Miguel is determined to hunts the bandits down and bring Trining back. He catches them, but his courage is replaced with bloodlust, driving him to a killing spree. An epilogue follows the violent climax. The United States & the Philippine Commonwealth troops have liberated the Philippines from Japan. A party is held in the Ojeda home to announce Maggie and Miguels betrothal. The survivors attempt to reclaim their previous lifestyle, but the war has changed the world, just as it has forever marked each of them