Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Brides of Sulu (1934, John Nelson)

Good news:

At last, I’ve seen ample excerpts from a pre-World War II Filipino silent film feature. There is no mistaking it. I agree with Society of Filipino Archivists for Film (SOFIA) member Teddy Co’s assertion that most of the vinta scenes from Brides of Sulu came from the 1931 silent film Moro Pirates, directed by Jose Nepomuceno. The newspaper advertisement for Moro Pirates showing a drawing of similar-looking vintas is important evidence.

Bad news:

I’m not convinced though that the film Brides of Sulu is of Filipino provenance, much less a Filipino silent film.

Brides of Sulu is about a star-crossed couple, Assan and Benita. The latter’s father, Datu Tamboyan, decides to marry off Benita to another chieftain, Datu of Dakor. Assan intervenes and flees with Benita to a neighboring island. A throng of vintas filled with Datu Tamboyan’s men takes off in hot pursuit. They eventually capture the couple. In front of her father and the Datu of Dakor, Benita declares her deep love for Assan. This act, along with the hasty departure of the insulted Datu of Dakor, convinces Datu Tamboyan to marry them instead.

The film is, depending on your interest, a romance story with scintillating footages of Sulu life or a documentary/travelogue with a love story hastily tacked onto it. The film’s dual nature led the members of the Filipino archive group SOFIA to suggest that Brides of Sulu must have been made up of two films, Moro Pirates and Princess Tarhata. The latter film has a story that has uncanny resemblance to that of Brides of Sulu's. Its lead female star is Daly Moreno (?), which is probably Adelina Moreno, the star of Brides of Sulu. The synopsis and lead cast info were all taken from a thesis by a University of the Philippines student. It is interesting to note that there is no director listed in the thesis info.

Teddy Co and company presented questions and evidences that they wanted us to hear, see, and ponder on. Let’s say there’s some iota of truth in the film being chunks of Princess Tarhata and Moro Pirates. But, how do we explain the existence of scenes showing together Adelina Moreno, alleged star of Princess Tarhata, and Eduardo de Castro, star of Moro Pirates? Those scenes, which are completely independent of the two silent films, suggest a third distinct film. And, isn’t there a magazine article quoting de Castro (or was it Nepomuceno?) as ‘having done a film titled Brides of Sulu’?

There’s also a need for SOFIA to uncover the Hollywood Reporter’s review of Brides of Sulu. Maybe the info from the review will help clear up the issue of whether the Brides of Sulu is originally a non-silent film.

Photo courtesy of Manila Times
Great news:

The best parts of the film are glimpses of Tausug traditions and dances, the amazing live music accompaniment by Rapista, and the incandescent beauty of Adelina Moreno (also known as Gilda Gales). With fiery eyes, agile body, and lovely European features, she is that rare local film star that sparkles and enthralls like a diamond.

I’d noticed that Moreno has two distinct get-ups in the film. The black get-up seems to fit the Princess Tarhata film (ie. without de Castro). The light colored get-up seems to be for the Brides of Sulu film (ie. with de Castro). Using Datu Tamboyan as common factor, both films appear to have been shot simultaneously.

SOFIA, under the leadership of Clodualdo del Mundo Jr., has done a wonderful job highlighting the importance of film preservation. Thank you so much for screening restored old classics and film gems.

Brides of Sulu may not be pure Pinoy, but it still contains footages from a Pinoy silent film feature and it has the luminous presence of the Virgo actress, Gilda Gales. Take a look at the picture and you’ll see the resemblance to another Virgo actress, Greta Garbo. The name Gilda is no longer the domain of Rita Hayworth. 'Gilda' will also be associated to our very own 'goddess' Gilda Gales.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sister Stella L (1984, Mike de Leon)

The original title of this award-winning film was Sangandaan (Crossroads). Producer Marichu Vera Perez found it to be too serious and suggested 'Sister Stella L' as title. That suggestion was a stroke of genius.

The current title evokes many images. I associate the title with a nun raising the Laban (Fight) sign. The word 'Laban' is what the letter L means to me. The film themes are bravery, power of the masses, and fighting for human rights. Those traits can also be found in the people involved in the film.

Enigmatic director Mike de Leon has always been known as a risk taker. He pushed for 'Itim' as title of his debut film. The film might have ended a flop at the Metro Manila Film Festival but it is still a stunning first film. He also questioned martial law rule in Batch ’81. It was no surprise then that he would pursue a more political film after the assassination of Ninoy Aquino. But, the stars must be aligned too.

The murder of Ninoy led to mass protests and a more relaxed censorship atmosphere. Mother Lily bravely took the option of producing Sister Stella L. Meanwhile, Vilma Santos was tired of portraying liberated women. She fought for the role of an activist nun. She begged Mother Lily to give her the role.

The original script by Pete Lacaba was voluminous. He excused himself with the pruning of the script because he was then working on Bayan Ko: Kapit sa Patalim. De Leon and Jose Almojuela did the job of shortening the script. Ellen Ongkeko added some dialogues.

Lacaba noted during the 2008 Active Vista Film Festival that de Leon found the Vilma film dated. The reclusive director preferred the showing of the magnificent documentary film Signos in lieu of Sister Stella L. While the former may have more bite, the Vilma starrer is still a highly relevant film and a true classic.

Mother Lily and Vilma Santos at the 25th anniversary forum
Rightly acknowledged as a gem of Philippine cinema by film critics in a March 20, 2009 forum, the film dealt with labor problems, persecution of media, and harassment of religious people. Those problems are still with us. Some critics comment on the failure of the film to expound on the events leading to the strike. I think the Brechtian film is telling the viewers to seek out the answers in the real world.

Immersion and social action is what the film is pushing for. The classic ending employed the 'breaking the fourth wall' technique. Sister Stella L is directly talking to the audience. She exhorts people to come out in the streets and fight for their rights. She ended her spiel with
"Kung hindi tayo kikilos, sino'ng kikilos? Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa?"

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Naglalayag (2004, Maryo de los Reyes)

7 long years… 

It’s been quite a journey for multi-awarded actress Nora Aunor since she left the Philippines in 2004. She hurdled a run-in with the law in Los Angeles, California, and also endured a botched cosmetic surgery in Japan. Now, she’s back and ready to gift her fans with movie and television projects.

Naglalayag (Silent Passage), her last film shot entirely in the Philippines, was a memorable farewell present to fans in 2004. The film starts with a Regional Trial Court judge named Dorinda Vda. De Roces (Nora Aunor) forced to take a cab on a stormy night. The taxi eventually gets stranded on a flooded street. She ends up spending the night at the home of the kind-hearted driver.

This film, about a May-December love affair, sparkles because of superb acting by Nora Aunor and Yul Servo. Aunor portrayed a judge who recently presided over a well publicized criminal case trial. Her character Dorinda is a 50-year old widow with a twenty-something-year-old son.

Floods pose a problem for public utility vehicle drivers, more so with guys named Noah. Yul Servo played Noah Garcia, a courteous and charming taxi driver who keeps a rosary in his pocket and shares stories from the Bible. Stranded with a non-operational taxi, the 23-year old novice driver Noah offers shelter to his passenger.

The few hours of interaction between the two will eventually blossom into friendship and full romance. Dorinda gets struck with the kindness and religiosity of the young man. She feels safe and comfortable in the company of Noah. Meanwhile, Noah admires the coolness of Dorinda. He cannot believe that a rich and intelligent woman like her will gamely spend the night inside their humble abode. Noah’s hunger for knowledge also brings him closer to Dorinda.

Everything’s going fine with the couple except for a few things. Noah’s mother, Lorena Garcia, prefers Rica to be the girlfriend of his son. Rica, a young and voluptuous neighbor, happens to be the owner of a sari-sari store. On the other hand, Dorinda isn’t sure if her son Dennis will accept her young lover. It also takes her a long time to tell her mother-in-law about her new love affair. Then, there are the gossips. The couple becomes fodder for rumors. The young man is portrayed as a gold digger while the judge is portrayed as a cradle snatcher.

In the end, love did reign despite the obstacles. The duo didn't mind the rumors. They followed their hearts. The film suggests that true love knows no boundaries, social groups, and age gaps.

Aunor’s beautiful, restraint performance in the film is just a glimpse of her acting skills. Her hearty chuckles can surely disarm any young man. I’m hoping someone can come up with a fine script that can show the full artistry of Aunor.

Award-winning actress Aleck Bovick gave a wonderful performance as Noah's girlfriend. Her chat with Aunor at the end of the film is a well-directed scene.

However, there are a couple of directing booboos. The plaque held by Dorinda had the name of Maryo de los Reyes inscribed on it. It was easy to see this mistake on a big theater screen. The second mistake showed the air blower used in the rainy scene outside the courthouse.

The film highlights the importance of kindness. If you liked de los Reyes' Magnifico, then you may also warm up to this romantic drama, an apt film to watch during rainy monsoon nights.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hesus, Rebolusyunaryo (2001, Lav Diaz)

Mostly set in year 2011, the prophetic film starts with art works (and films) being censored and burned by the Department of Culture and the Armed Forces. Paintings and books are used as fodder for a hungry bonfire on the street.

Cut to the real world, and you'll notice the resemblance to attempts to burn down and close down a divisive art work exhibited at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Most objectors decried the defilement of pictures and statues of Jesus Christ.

Cue back to the film, made in 2001, and you'll realize that the name of the major character is Hesus. The uncanny similarities are quite unnerving and troubling. Censorship and blocking of Cinemalaya films is now a possibility after the precedent shown by the CCP board with Mideo Cruz's art work. Artists rose in arms to protest the closure of the exhibit.

Hesus, Rebolusyunaryo also deals with a firebrand artist. Hesus Mariano (Mark Anthony Fernandez) loves music and poetry. His book Landas ni Ybarra has been compared with the incendiary Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal. He worked before as a journalist but the rise to power of General Cyrus Racellos likely pushed him to join the underground movement.

Hesus is on top of the list of the most wanted men by the military. He became a legend for carrying out high-profile liquidation missions for the rebel group called the People's Liberation Front. His expertise in handling guns made him a perfect choice for assassinations and, once in a while, purging of moles in the movement.

A recent purging of comrades in his cell led to his being critically wounded. He gets captured by the military. Colonel Simon (Joel Lamangan) takes a huge interest in the welfare of the unconscious prisoner. Knowing the youngster’s passion for music and poetry, Simon plays loudly some ethnic music, classical music, and a punk-rock ditty in his room. But, none was effective in reviving him save for the poem-letter written by Hesus himself.

This poem, which gets a second reading at the end of the film, seems to symbolize art works that spur people to feel truly alive. Detailed description of Hesus’ rustic life shows the stark contrast to his life on the run in the urban jungles. These memories of joyful days in Bicol and his pretty lady love Hilda (an allusion to Ligaya Paraiso?) are enough to resurrect him.

Mabuhay ang pelikulang Pilipino! - Lav
Most of Lav Diaz’s films deal with the power of art to redeem humanity and the role of artists as social movers. This film is probably one of the most personal of his works. His ideology and commentaries on art and the state of the nation are clearly brought out in the open. A clue to the autobiographical slant of the film is a scene that mirrors the house on fire scene in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Mirror. The next scene shows a mirror breaking up into pieces. The Russian film is, just like Diaz’s film, chockfull of autobiographical tidbits about its maker.

Hesus, Rebolusyunaryo shows Diaz’s nationalism, keen observation, and deep passion for art, music, films, and poetry. I’ve been an avid fan of Lav Diaz’s features/reviews for Jingle magazine in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was responsible for luring me to the world of nationalistic troubadours such as Joey Ayala, Patatag, and Inang Laya. When the magazine disbanded, I’d lost track of Diaz. It was when he came up with his enigmatic films that I began to devour readings about his life and works. From an excellent lengthy interview by the late Alexis Tioseco, I’d learnt that he was a former journalist and that as a kid he saw people at checkpoints singing the Lupang Hinirang; both elements crop up in the film.

I agree with Lav Diaz’s stand against censorship. He says ‘censorship is poison to the arts (and culture).’ Mideo Cruz’s art work Poleteismo should not have been censored and closed down. The best revenge for those who got offended with it should have been to just ignore the installation. I’d seen the installation during my Cinemalaya 2011 film sojourn and would have completely forgotten about it had it not been for the controversy. As it is, the objectors put back the limelight on a not-so-great art work.

Year 2011 will be remembered not for Poleteismo but for Lav Diaz’s new, soon-to-be premiering films, Babae ng Hangin, and Siglo ng Pagluluwal. And, you don’t have to be a prophet to know that. It is just faith. Faith in the redemptive power of Lav Diaz’s art works. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Boundary (2011, Benito Bautista)

Getting a cab during Christmas season is an extremely stressful experience for commuters. Not so with the well-dressed Emmanuel Lazaro (Raymond Bagatsing). With a first name like that, he surely must have the angels on his side as he easily gets a taxi by default. He gets to ride in a brightly lit taxi driven by Limuel Alcantara (Ronnie Lazaro).

Boundary takes us for a trip inside Limuel’s confused mind. We first see him, disheveled hair and all, wandering along the Marikina riverbanks. He seems to be on a limited budget as he opts for a cheap snack. His brief chat with the vendor unnerves him. Ikaw ang mag-ingat. Those words linger as he walks away while glancing back several times.

Limuel is not unlike those contemplative Lav Diaz characters, Heremias and Serafin Geronimo. He has a dark past that he cannot leave behind. A place or a person will unexpectedly trigger their paranoia or melancholia. The nod to Lav Diaz is also seen in the use of Diaz’s frequent film location, Marikina riverbanks.

Emmanuel engages the unfocused and jumpy Limuel in a chit-chat. We learn that Limuel takes the road 24 hours every other day. His boundary is a high PHP 1500 but he is grateful that he no longer has to shoulder other miscellaneous vehicle expenses. He endears himself to Emmanuel when he showed photographs of his family.

Amused by the Christmas lights inside the taxi, Emmanuel orders Limuel to stop over at a Christmas lantern shop. He buys a capiz lantern and surprises the driver by giving it as a gift. The joy of Limuel is, however, short-lived. Constant calls from someone make him jittery once again.

Ronnie Lazaro
Limuel, it turns out, is a former member of a bank robbery gang. During the group’s last heist, he gets cold feet and leaves his comrades. They are now asking him to pay a certain amount. Limuel has no savings so he accedes to his comrades’ plan to rob off rich passengers.

The robbers Diego Gawaran, Limuel, and a cohort divest Emmanuel of his items.  They forgot to take his cellphone, which he uses to start springing his own surprise.

The rapport between Emmanuel and Limuel was well handled by the director. The latter cheated somewhat by having Emmanuel ride at the immediate back of Limuel. He did it probably in order to capture the two in single shots. He also admitted to putting Christmas lights inside the taxi to camouflage extra interior lights.

The taxi journey (and direction) was smooth sailing until the bonfire scene. With the robbers onboard, the suspense should have reach fever pitch. But, poor dialogue (i.e. mostly cussing by Diego) and clunky direction (e.g. poorly executed fumbling scene by the robbers) rob the film of much-needed tension. The taxi ride here is a mere kiddie bike ride compared to the suspense-filled van ride in Kinatay.

Limuel, given a new lease on life by Emmanuel Lazaro (Lazarus?), is able to leave his dark past but gets embroiled in a darker, more sinister situation. He no longer drives a taxi. He becomes, guess what, the driver of a van filled with corrupt policemen. And so, the journey to perdition continues...

Related link/s:
Thoughts by director Benito Bautista (inquirer.net)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington (2011, Jade Castro)


A young man was walking along a narrow street in the festive town of Lucban, Quezon when a boy yelled out that insult. What is surprising is the affront didn’t make him mad. He mulled over it and accepted the truth behind that tag. He realized that he is truly gay. The young man, named Raymond Lee, is the writer of superb local screenplays such as Tanging Yaman and Endo.

Scriptwriter Lee’s encounter with the Lucban boy became the germ for this project about gay zombies taking revenge on homophobic people. He joins forces once more with his Endo collaborators: co-writer Michiko Yamamoto and director Jade Castro.

The comic film starts with a five-year-old boy named Remington poking fun at gays by calling them "bakla." He has a guardian who didn't seem to mind his inappropriate actions. This neglect may have prodded him to continue ridiculing homosexuals. The script didn't point out why the boy grew up to be like that. His parents seem tolerant of gays so I was wondering what triggered his verbal bullying. His mother is a policewoman so it was somewhat disappointing that in a family that shatters gender stereotypes the boy is a homophobe.

The little bully ultimately meets his match in the person of a middle-aged gay visiting the cemetery. The latter puts a curse on the boy. Remington, says the aggrieved one, will experience being gay.

Most of the laughs center on twenty-year old Remington's struggle to fight his emerging gay side. His crush Hannah soon gets push aside as he starts to hanker over his best friend Jigs. The two boys have a humorous risqué scene that has them locking lips several times. Watch out for the randy hand that has a life of its own. Director Jade Castro admits that he changed the tempo of the scene by adding a frothy music background. His decision was a response to some comments raised by members of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.

Castro always includes a dance number in his feature films. This film has a funny street dance by Remington (excellently played by Martin Escudero) that recalls the spontaneity of Ina Feleo’s dance in Endo and the élan of a Singin’ in the Rain dance number. With bright rainbow colors streaming out of his heart, he eclipses the colorful decorations and pahiyas installations at homes in Lucban.

The key to enjoying this film is to go with the flow. Groove to the dance beat. Don’t take it too seriously. As Raymond Lee says ‘he makes movies that he (a movie fan) wants to see.’ If a bullied gay person like him creates a movie that makes fun of the behavior of gays, then let it be.

My main complaint with the film is not the gay issues but its extremely populist mentality. It tries very hard to please every movie fan out there that it ended up being a pastiche. There are bits of Zsazsa Zaturnnah here, a beefcake shot there, and a handful of fright scenes spread across the film. The gags are so diverse that it looks like they are mere outputs of an all-night drinking party. The clunky line-up scene has all the appeal of the ill-fated Bench-Volcanoes billboard. Nil. The truly comic scenes are few and far between.

The major saving grace of the film is its big heart scene. Most of the Yamamoto films I have seen have a grand heart scene. There is the piggyback scene in Magnifico and the power hug scene in My Big Love. Zombadings 1 has a similar powerful sequence near the end. With time nearly running out for Remington, his father comes to the rescue. Spurred by the true power of love, the elder sacrifices his manhood in order to break the curse. He is what we call 'tunay na lalake.' This heart-tugging sequence made me change my view about the film. Winnie Monsod siya bigla with a few reservations. The previous sentence can be translated as: ‘if you have movie money to spare, then watch this film instead of a Hollywood movie.’

Related link/s:
Thoughts by actor Martin Escudero (inquirer.net)
Chat with cast and crew (mb.com.ph)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Niño (2011, Loy Arcenas)

Veteran theatre personality Loy Arcenas surprised everybody with his dazzling film debut, Niño. While working on a theatre play years ago, he saw the young people's enthusiasm and fascination for Cinemalaya films during that year's festival. Arcenas endeavored to make his own and ultimately took the dare to join Cinemalaya. He learned so many things from his six months of making Niño and vows to use those lessons in making another film. Yes, sir. Please do make another film. Your Niño is a welcome respite from poverty porn films.

The must-see film tackles the foibles of the haughty rich clan of the Lopez-Aranzas. The Lopez-Aranza siblings are some sort of royals. The ‘Three Kings’ are the following: Gaspar (Tony Mabesa) is a former political kingpin who lost a lot of money and power when he sided with Emmanuel Pelaez in the 1964 Nacionalista Party convention. His sibling, Melchor, died a long time ago with no heirs. Celia is the female Balthazar. She used to be a queen of Philippine opera.

Their residence home, Villa Reyes los Magos, is a sprawling property that has lost its luster. It used to be the meeting place of mighty politicians and wealthy people. Even Prince Alfonso of Bourbon was once a former guest. But, with the ebbing of political tides the high-profile visitors ceased to come. The residents slowly adjust to less luxurious lifestyle. Celia (Fides Cuyugan-Asensio) earns a little by offering singing lessons. The family members also resort to accepting boarders in order to stretch the household budget.

Gaspar’s hospitalization and subsequent descent into a comatose state trigger the return of his United States-based daughter, Raquel (Raquel Villavicencio). Every one at the humongous mansion is kept on tenterhooks waiting for her next move. Celia, who has sold her share of the mansion, worries about being evicted from the illustrious residence. Merced (Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino) and her lover Katherine foresee the impending end to their affair. The cash-strapped Mombic (Arthur Acuña) is the only one pushing for the sale of the property. He charms Raquel into having dinner with his realtor friend.

Jhiz Deocareza and the Butterfly
Now, you may be wondering what is the role of the boy garbed in a Santo Niño outfit? His name is Antony and he is the son of Mombic. His grandmother Celia believes he is the key to making Gaspar well again. But, Antony is no superhero like Ben 10 nor is he as miraculous as the Santo Niño. Sensing the dying moments of Gaspar, Celia accepts her fate and runs to the balcony. She takes a last look at the gardens that decades ago teemed with roses, sampaguitas, rosals, mangoes, and chicos. She will soon flit away but her grandson Antony will forever remember her as a majestic butterfly with the fragrant smell of jasmine.

Arcenas utilized his clout to gather a wonderful cast. From the veteran performers to the child actor, every one gave their best. Centenera-Buencamino and Acuña won acting nods from the Cinemalaya 2011 film festival jury. Arcenas is truly an actors’ director. He was responsible for bringing Che Ramos her first award for the excellent play Tatlong Mariya. That play, along with the film, was a result of his collaboration with Rody Vera.

I’m not raising Kane here, but I consider scriptwriter Vera’s contribution to be equal, if not greater, to that of Arcenas’. His script and dialogues are truly vivid and memorable. He has the ability to make the audience feel and smell the characters. The little boy’s witty description of his aunt Merced as having the smell of a closet is pure genius. (Closet lesbian?  Got it?).The stripping away of secrets is well-paced and adds layer to characterizations. And, who can forget the hilarious ‘paabot nga ng patis’ line by Celia?

Niño have been compared to the play Portrait of an Artist as a Filipino and the film Oro Plata Mata. But, have you seen the similarities to Citizen Kane? Check out the following: jaw-dropping first-rate film debut; utilization of the best theatre people; and story plots about a grand politician’s loss of power and a grand family/mansion’s decay. There are atrocious opera singing scenes in both films.

Where’s the Rosebud in the local film? It vanished when the typhoon winds destroyed the floral gardens. The innocence and child-like naivety of Gaspar was shattered when Ferdinand Marcos stole the Nacionalista Party’s presidential slot in the 1964. Real life oligarch families such as the Lopezes then suffered at the hands of the Marcos regime. It should be noted that in Citizen Kane the presidential slot was also taken away from the hands of Charles Foster Kane.

Niño should be seen more than once for it contains layers and layers of symbolisms. Check out other reviews for references to stage plays.

Related link/s:
Chat with members of the cast (inquirer.net)

Niño wins top prize at Busan (inquirer.net)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Maskara (2011, Laurice Guillen)

For the second straight year, technical difficulties plagued the opening film screening at the Cinemalaya film festival. In 2010, intermittent disruptions marred the showing of Ganap na Babae. As a result I barely recall the segments from the anthology. On the other hand, Maskara, the opening film of the 7th edition of Cinemalaya, was a memorable trip to the world of local actors and thespians. A brief stoppage midway through the screening did not seem to bother the audience, who showered the film with a well-deserved applause in the end.

Laurice Guillen’s indie film begins with a widow (Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino) unearthing several letters addressed to her recently departed husband Roberto Martinez. Ellen then reads those letters from a woman named Anna and learns the truth about the double life of her late actor-husband.

The bulk of the movie happens during the 40th day commemoration of Bobby's death. Relatives and friends recall their fondest memories of Bobby (Tirso Cruz III). This segment becomes a showcase for the dramatic and singing skills of various actors who played the guests. Angelica Panganiban, a semi-regular in Guillen’s films, was superb in her delivery of a eulogy. Her character spoke of a practical acting tip by Bobby. The gist of the advice is to bring out real emotions and it won't feel like work. It can even serve as a stress reliever and a way to unburden pain and sufferings. Panganiban’s acting is a fine example of ‘as-is where-is’ acting. With voice on the verge of cracking, she seems to be channeling real emotions deep from her heart.

From the recollections, Bobby emerges as a well-loved colleague. But, there's someone who harbors some resentment towards him. Anna is the woman whose voice intrudes into and sometimes eclipses the hosannas and praises from Bobby’s friends. Her letters tell of another mask worn by Bobby.

Stories and tales about acting give us a fine understanding of the craft and how in the real world all of us are actors. We all wear masks in our dealings with people. A father like Bobby may put on a distant facade to help toughen his daughter. He then attaches another mask when he is with his new family. Bobby wears those masks out of love. He gets away with his double life because he follows his heart and not the art of acting.

Painting by Johnny Delgado
Scriptwriter Ina Feleo, with some help from scriptwriting maven Armando Lao, presents a heartfelt, moving tribute to Johnny Delgado, her late father (and Laurice Guillen’s husband). His presence fills every nook and cranny of the movie: from his paintings adorning the house; to his daughters, Ana and Ina, who both appeared in the film; and to the various fine performances that recall his ‘no acting’ approach to performing. Ina is indeed her father’s daughter by nailing down a difficult breakdown scene. She then delivers the coup de grace with her ice breaking dialogue ‘kain lang kayo.’ That line rivals that of Fides Cuyugan-Asensio’s hilarious ‘paabot nga ng patis’ dialogue in Niño.

The script goes haywire near the end of the film. Feleo gets a wee bit over the top with the rambling contents of Bobby’s letter to his daughter. The words love, art, happiness, and solitude get jumbled and nearly messed up the missive’s message: Happiness should not be entirely dependent on another person. What happens when that person goes away or dies?

Johnny Delgado died at the age of 61 on November 19, 2009. We dearly miss his presence in local films. It is a good thing his wife, Laurice, and daughters, Ana and Ina, continue to bring us happiness and joy with their superb films and fantastic acting.

Related link/s:
Thoughts by director Laurice Guillen (inquirer.net)

Tuesday, August 09, 2011


Hi! Thanks for dropping by... 

This blog will mostly deal with Filipino films.

Here's hoping you'll find what you are looking for. 

.nel C 0 S T A L E S