Saturday, March 19, 2005

Reel Pinoy!

There’s something about Filipino films that draw as well as repel Pinoys to the silver screen. For the escapist fan, a love story of Judy Ann magnitude with complete kilig (titillating) story line is enough to drown every day woes of the Filipino life. But the same film can be predicted when the credits starts rolling. Boy meets girl, girl plays coy, boy tries his best to win girl’s heart with sometimes the cheesiest lines and cheesiest moves, girl gives in and after the movie house has been flooded by both the actress’ tears and the audience’s, they all live happily ever after. For some Pinoys, especially the non-masa (mass) type, it’s enough to reach for the vomit bag.

But there is also something so unique that draws each one to the cinema to watch the latest Pinoy teen flick or love story may it be from Star Cinema or Viva or whatever or the action-packed movie of reformed “Bad Boy” Robin Padilla. Movie-going is in most of our blood and is often on our schedule from Monday to Sunday, if the budget allows. For premieres, where the actors and actresses, actually attend, twice as many moviegoers will buy the expensive tickets. This is complete with after-show screams of “Ang ganda ganda! Ang gwapo ni Piolo! (It’s so nice. Piolo is so handsome!” as they are interviewed for their comments.

I relived that today. Piolo’s latest film, Dreamboy, was showing at Geneva’s Balexert’s cinema. It ran for two nights to raise funds for the Gawad Kalinga (To Give Care) Housing Project in the Philippines. Hollywood Video Store, a Filipino-owned movie rental shop, and ABS-CBN (The Filipino Channel) organized the event.

It came complete with a GK audio-visual presentation featuring Gary Granada’s song “Bahay” (House) to move the people to donate for the project. It was followed by a live presentation of the members of the Kids and Youth for Christ complete with a song and theatre number. It never ceases to amaze me how much talent these kids have.

But the best part of the whole Reel Pinoy! experience is perhaps the National Anthem being played before the movie started. Every time I hear the Lupang Hinirang (Esteemed Land), I am moved to tears. I might be a bit too patriotic at times but being outside of the country most of the time, I really miss it.

Before I get into my nationalistic mode as most of you know, I can just go on and on about the Philippines, I’d like to relate Dreamboy’s strong points. It wasn’t your typical love story that left no guess-work to the fans.

The lead character, Cyd, has dreamt and wished for her true love. She refuses to date the guys that her friend sets her up with. She said she believes her soul mate will come when the time is right. Orphaned early in her youth, she never made it to college. She had to work in a wholesale grocery to provide for her and her grandmother.

But one day, she meets Philip, a stunning young man who happens to own the grocery that she works at. He sweeps her off her feet but she does not belong to his socio-economic class or so his aunt warns her. She runs off and cries her eyes out. After a few weeks, she meets Eboy as he rescues her purse from a speeding thief. He is the spitting image of Philip but more athletic, care-free, and doesn’t hesitate to show her that he’s fallen for her instantly. But Eboy has a fiancée and Cyd’s heart was to be broken again. After a few more weeks, Jaime enters her life as a restaurant supervisor, also bearing the face of Philip and Eboy sans Philip’s rich and well-groomed look and Eboy’s scruffy masculinity. Jaime was your typical boy-next-door.

Jaime takes her to his mother’s house in the Quezon Province after a seminar they were both headed to was cancelled. Call it serendipity, but not!

All three characters try to win her heart and make her say the magic words – I LOVE YOU!

Cyd had to rush back to Manila after hearing news of her grandmother’s worried state after she had not communicated in light of the cancelled seminar. She rushes back to her work only to be scolded by her manager.

The story unfolds as Jaime in his love-struck frenzy runs after Cyd. He takes her by the hand and in full view of the other workers, professes his love for her. And in her angry and bitter tone, she says, “Let’s get this over with, you want to hear the magic words, here you go – I LOVE YOU!” And just as she says it, cameramen and TV crew springs out of nowhere and bright lights puts her on the spot. Not until a close friend told her a few days before, she didn’t know she had been the lead character in the latest reality TV show, Mr. Dreamboy. To her utter horror, she bursts into tears. Jaime, who is actually the real person of the Philip-Eboy-Jaime character, tries to explain that he had not counted on really falling in love with her. That many times, he tried to back out of the deal but he couldn’t because he hadn’t counted on falling for her and that he needed the money because his father’s land was confiscated by the bank after his father died and left the loans unpaid.

And after all the drama and deceit, they reunite and end in a blissful kiss.

I have to give credit to this film because it wasn’t as predictable as many of the Filipino films I’ve seen. Of course, from the mere title you could tell this was some fairytale story but how was the fairytale going to be played out?

This is quite original and kudos to Star Cinema for trying to break out of the mold of the teeny-boppy formula film that leaves most viewers disappointed and wanting their money back.

I hope we can make better movies that just don’t drain our pockets but also makes movie-going a treat - as it should be.

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