Saturday, November 23, 2013

Blue Bustamante (Miko Livelo, Cinema One Originals 2013)

Steve, Mark, Big Bert, Little John, Jamie.

If you are familiar with the names above, then you're probably a fan of Voltes V, an ultraelectromagnetic popular mecha anime in the 1980s. That period was blissful years for me and my siblings. All five of us got no worries in the world then. However, several kids were not as lucky.

Blue Bustamante deals with a boy bullied by a classmate. His father just left for Japan. He seeks shelter and comfort in a Japanese superhero television serial Force Five. His idol among the heroes is Blue Force. Unknown to him, Blue Force will eventually be played by his father, George Bustamante.

How his father end up into the shoes of Blue Force is a wonderful plot device. It shows the extent Filipino parents go through to feed their children and send them to good schools. Long before they were called Bagong Bayani or New Heroes, scores of intrepid parents left for greener pastures abroad during Martial Law. They get out of their comfort zone and suit up different costumes. They solve problems on their own.

George Bustamante (Joem Bascon) does not want his wife to know about his unexpected unemployment. The 'kapit sa patalim' situation forces him to shed his blue uniform and don a new costume complete with a bladed weapon. He takes up the offer of his friend to work as a stuntman for the Force Five show. He ignores the pain and bruises he gets from the show's kinetic action segments. He is flabbergasted to learn that his son idolizes the costumed hero that he plays. Even from afar, he gets to inspire his son to team up with the bullied ones and fight off evil doers.

Blue Bustamante takes me back to my teen years. That era saw the reign of the Sony Betamax and Nintendo Family Computer machines. There was no Facebook then. Overseas Filipino professionals had a difficult time battling homesickness. I wrote countless letters to my father, an accountant assigned to countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, and Bangladesh. I relayed to him the results of the Philippine Basketball Association games. I shared the achievements of my siblings. I always sneak in a postscript to my notes. The letters from home eased the loneliness of my father. He complimented and praised my writing for being organized. That was a big boost to me then. 

June (Dimples Romana), wife of George Bustamante, uses the postcript in her letters to unleash her cariño brutal. She reminds him not to have affairs with other women. Her concern is not without basis because George has a good heart and good-looking as well. There's a hilarious scene showing male friend Ramon ogling over George's body. I also loved the diner chat between George and a cute Japanese girl.

The film do not show all Filipinos abroad as outright heroes. Ramon (Jun Sabayton) works in Japan because he refuses to care for his grandmother back home. But, he treats George as a brother. The mustachioed duo reminds me of my relatives in Saudi Arabia. If there is a sequel then let them work in Saudi Arabia.

Blue Bustamante is a nostalgic treat for the Voltes V generation. It will bring back wonderful memories of playing with a gigantic robot toy, and Super Mario Bros. on the Family Computer. It will make you yearn for the old Japanese shows. Several of my younger male office mates always relate how they anticipate watching the show Shaider. They had a kick peeking on the underwear of Annie. 

I had never seen an episode of Shaider but our family dog is named Shaider. Just goes to show how my siblings and I embraced Japanese pop culture. As I'm writing this, my mother unearthed my kuya's precious highly-detailed Gundam robot toy in mint condition. Pardon me, but I'll end this piece and take a look at that ultrafantastic toy.

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