Thursday, August 17, 2017

Kiko Boksingero (Thop Nazareno, Cinemalaya 2017)

Compared to its batchmates, the film Kiko Boksingero is short and lean but packs a powerful, engaging story. With a running time of 76 minutes, this little film gem manages to squeeze in ample amounts of important life lessons and heartwarming moments. The wonderful musical score by Pepe Manikan is soothing and calming.

A fifth-grade schooler, Francis 'Kiko' Arenas (Noel Comia Jr.), is bullied by two noxious classmates. He tries to avoid trouble to the extent that he sometimes shuns going to the toilet to evade his classmates. After school, he hangs out regularly in a vacant place and tries to pound a punching bag.

The audience may think Kiko is just venting out his anger in this unoccupied house. His real motive, though, is to get a glimpse and probably touch base with his father. Soon after, the father comes home to initiate the sale of the house.

Kiko has fond memory of visiting his grandmother in that place when he was younger. He savors stories told by the elder. These stories triggered the boy's fixation with boxing. He idolizes his absentee father George, a former boxer who've faced Manny Pacquiao in the ring. The boy's favorite tumbler has a boxing design. His room is filled with boxing knick-knacks and mementos. He religiously cleans the boxing equipment of his father in the vacant place.

George (Yul Servo) belatedly knew about his son's existence. He tries his best to make up for lost time. He imparts basic boxing fundamentals to the boy. He advises Kiko to use his boxing skills only for self-defense.

A memorable father-and-son segment deals with the circumcision of Kiko. George unleashes his boyish charm at the clinic. Film producer Sarah Pagcaliwagan Brakensiek nearly steals the scene with her portrayal of a smitten nurse assistant. There's a marked change with the boy after being circumcised. He learns to do household chores on his own. Most important of all, he gains confidence and walks proudly along the school corridors. His upright stance is like those of a proud sunflower shining brightly in a field.

Kiko Boksingero also deals with the importance of rising up after every fall or knockout. The abrupt departure of his father is like a sneaky hook landing solidly on Kiko's face. On the route going home, the devastated boy stops and tears can be seen flowing down his face. A familiar figure, his nanny (Yayo Aguila), immediately gives him a consoling hug. The camera then zooms out to reveal a beautiful shot of the two, feeling the warmth of each other's familial love, holding fort and oblivious to the cool breeze of a Baguio evening. The prominent, comforting light seems to emanate from the two instead of coming directly from the street lamp.

Yayo Aguila won the best supporting actress award from Cinemalaya for her likable portrayal as the nanny. She said that the film project is close to her heart because it is about family.

One by one, family members of Kiko slowly drift away. His aunt, main financial benefactor of Kiko, is having second thoughts on getting the boy to live with her in the United States. His carefree father left him cold with nary a message. Kiko manages to withstand these debacles with the help of his nanny.

Diday is more than a doting nanny to Kiko. She is a 'nanay' who cares and truly loves the boy. She and Kiko are family.

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