Or in short, my review of SA ‘YO LAMANG. Sa ‘yo na talaga! Iyong-iyo na! Baunin mo na, iuwi mo na! Chos.
d. Laurice Guillen
p. Star Cinema-ABS-CBN
story by five people, script by three people
dop. Lee Meily
c. Lorna Tolentino, Christopher de Leon, Bea Alonzo, Coco Martin and a bunch of ABS-CBN TV talents
Pitch: A seemingly well-to-do family’s life suddenly flips when their father — who abandoned them and was absent for ten years of their lives — suddenly returns and moves back in the house. Imagine the drama. Ho-hum.
Catch: It’s like watching your garden-variety nightly melodrama series. Ho-hum.
Let me share something I picked up in the becky world recently. The beckys (bakla) have this new expression of jest whenever someone seems to sound like they are grandstanding, intended or not, when they’re telling a story. Sort of like the pabidahan “wala ka sa Lolo ko” hirit. The beckys would say “Ikaw na! Ikaw na ang __!” Insert your own adjective in the blank, depending on the conversation you’re having. Ikaw na ang maganda at tinitigan ni Piolo nang nag-jogging siya sa UP Oval! Or maybe Ikaw na ang sikat na bineso-beso ni Angel Aquino sa La Union! Something like that. A variation of this is “Iyo na! Iyo na ang ___!” which also means the same thing, but to take it up to a level, like Miss Universe level, they could say “Iyo na ang spotlight/korona/scepter dahil __!” State your own reasons in the blank. So that’s like an added interpretation whenever someone would say “Sa ‘yo na!” and all that.
You learn something new everyday, noh? Chos.
But anyway, this film didn’t really fare well for me, having just participated in a regional meeting of the IAWRT or the International Association of Women in Radio and Television last week, where I entered as a happy observer and ended up as an impromptu speaker on the portrayals of women in Philippine cinema. Wadapak! But of course we pulled it off, since this topic is right up our alley — which doesn’t seem to be up the alley of the filmmakers of this here film. Hay.
Where do I begin? Hm, the producers?
Ikaw na! Ikaw na, Star Cinema, ang gumagawa ng pelikulang may gloss! Sure, call it high, clean production values. At least the people who work in their production design dept. seem to have a good handle of how to PD things. And Lee Meily’s lighting helps, too. So that’s a strength.
Ikaw na! Ikaw na, Lorna T. ang magdala ng universal women sufferance role! Sabi nga ng aking co-CINE CHICHIRYA host last Friday where we discussed Filipino families in film, women who were left behind seem to be the martyr who needs to carry this sufferance thing to the next level. I can’t imagine how a woman who was screwed over by her philandering husband not once, not twice, not thrice, but many times more, and then being left by that husband to take care of four kids for ten years, and then the husband comes back when his mistress leaves him, and then discovers that the husband is still trying to take care of the mistress who came back with a baby on the way, hay… I’ll stop myself. Sino’ng tanga ang tatanggap sa kanya? Eto, ang karakter ni Lorna T. Kaya ikaw na! Ikaw na talaga ang martir!
Ikaw na, ikaw na, Tope, ang hari ng mga macho shit double standard! When it was revealed that, during one of the first times his character had an affair, the wife — probably in retaliation — also had an affair that bore a child. When she was confessing this to him, he had the gall to say “Walang lugar ang batang ‘yan sa bahay na ito! Pini-pendeho mo lang ako!” Yeah, fuck you, too. When the wife commits adultery, she is shamed here to no end, to the point of having her abandon that child and give it up for adoption for the sake of keeping her legal family intact. Ano’ng intact? E iniwan nga rin sila ng nag-pendehong padre de familia, e. Nubah! Bullshit macho shit!
Ikaw na, ikaw na, Bea Alonzo, ang magkaroon ng ultra-schizophrenic characterization sa buong pelikulang ito! Her character, being the eldest child, takes on the padre de familia role with resentment, and she doesn’t let anybody forget this fact in like every other sequence. The hardworking, successful, no-nonsense interior designer persona in the beginning suddenly takes a nosedive when a lover from her past, Diether Ocampo’s character, suddenly comes back, and she just throws all things in abandon as she dives into a beginning of an affair with him, leaving the poor, kind fiance of hers hanging on the side. And then she lectures her siblings of responsibilities and not forgetting them and being an adult and taking care of things? Ikaw na, ikaw na ang malabo!
Ikaw na, Coco Martin, ang mag-portray ng chick boy na nakabuntis sa karakter ni Shaina Magdayao na bigla na lang sumulpot (literally, under an umbrella on a rainy day, just standing there outside this bida family’s house without saying anything, hanlabo). Since Shaina’s character was somewhat a meek and mild-mannered poor girl, the mother figure let her stay in their house for the duration of her pregnancy, to the resentment of Coco’s character, of course. But one freaky night, he undresses and forces himself on her, and she can’t do anything about it, and after a few humping and pumping scenes, close up on his and her face as he slowly realizes that he loves her, and they kiss, like lovers. Wow. Now how’s that for covering up rape? Bali-baligtarin mo man ang pelikulang ito, ang ginawa na iyon ni Coco ay rape. It wasn’t planted anywhere earlier that he still likes Shaina’s character, so this is clearly rape. And this is clearly scary. And this is really maddening. My nostrils are flaring as I type this. It’s so infuriating! What message are you trying to relay with this one? Na dahil nabuntis na naman niya ang babae, puwede na niyang halayin ulit dahil nasa kama naman niya sa bahay naman nila at buntis na naman ng batang siya ang ama naman? Naman! Tumbling talaga ako dito.
At ikaw na, dear audience, ang manood ng pelikulang ito para ipagpatuloy na hanapin kung may kagandahan nga ba ito o wala. Aside from being religiously preachy (the Santo Nino/Mama Mary/various saints and religious icons designs in almost all scenes, plus that let’s-pray-while-hugging-the-sick-instead-of-calling-the-ambulance scene – OMG this scene is so fucked, wait for it, don’t walk out yet), this film is a failure in its execution of a story that sounded so contrived to begin with. Aside from questioning the other gender-based double standards of this film, the story plots out like a super-fast weekly television teleserye drama where plot point upon plot point upon plot point are unraveled so fast that it seems to be anticipating the next upcoming commercial gap. It doesn’t help that most scenes, especially the dramatic ones, are always framed in close-ups and medium shots and scenes just get dumped one after the other that you would think the filmmakers are allergic to this cinematic device called the establishing shot were you should put at least some semblance of contextualization of what’s happening in the scene, or where it’s taking place, or who the leads of that particular scene are. Ang gulo, ang labo, ang bilis.
This is the problem when people work too much on television; they forget that cinema has a different set of aesthetics altogether. Review, guys, review. Let the scenes breathe, and give the characters some pacing, so that they won’t resort to the usual melodramatic histrionics of releasing angst shouts on an open space or magdadabog ng walang kaabog-abog at magsisisigaw sa inis at magsisira ng gamit sa kuwarto. Puwede niyo namang i-execute ito ng maayos at maganda, e, without resorting to the old and ho-hum tricks. For instance, two bright and shining examples of this is when Bea Alonzo’s character confronted the father for the first time and just cursed at him, a curse that has been ten years in the making. That was good. Another was when, after the mother told Bea of a secret, she just cried there in the rain, under an umbrella, her hand silently covering her mouth, because they are outside a church after all, so no noisy histrionics there. E puwede naman palang ganun, e! Aside from those two scenes, I can’t find anything redeemable about this dangerously anti-women film.
Which got us thinking last Friday. Ito ba ang pamilyang Pilipino? We thought of asking ourselves, since cinema seems to depict Filipino families this way over the years — histrionics, ma-drama, and all that. Sure, some families are even worse than this, but is this representative of what the Filipino family is like? Hm, that’s up to you to find out, and see.
As for me, the main regret in watching this film is not having any chicha while watching it. I certainly needed the distraction. Oh well, you watch, you learn.