Friday, June 1, 2012

Paul Singh Cudail's Hawla - Opprobrious Mentality

Harry (Johnron Tanada) is down on his luck. Unemployed and penniless, he needs fast cash to move away from the cramped dorm he shares with his friend Ethan (Mygz Molino). The latter suggests a concupiscent “booking” with the generous Tattoo Man (John Relucio), a seaman who was once convicted as a drug mule. Unfortunately for the reluctant Harry, his customer gets his kicks sodomizing his men. Anyway, it was something he had to endure to keep his finances afloat.

After finding a new lodging, things start picking up for Harry. He shares his digs with new friends, Brix and Robbie (Francis Cabral and Dice Vergara) who both work as nurses. But something’s amiss. Two weeks into Harry’s stay, he starts to notice Brix’s illicit visits to a seemingly quarantined room in the house. What is Brix hiding? Meanwhile, even Harry’s employment prospect perks up! Pending medical clearance, he gets the green light in a lucrative call center. He even chances on Chris (Rein Soliman) – the random stranger he once shared sexual rendezvous with - as his supervisor.

On the home front, he learns about Berna (Carla Varga), Brix’s very sick mother. And she’s dying from AIDS! She once worked in Kuwait, but got raped by her employer. These days, Berna is kept isolated in a dark room with nothing, but a bed, a fan and a mosquito net! Is she contagious like the plague? She must be. Otherwise, why would they segregate her like a leper? Why is her condition a hushed state of affair even in her own house?  

When Harry reports at the office, he gets the shock of his life when he learns that he is HIV-positive! “Hindi lahat ng callboy may HIV,” he tells his employer with due venom, I am sure the latter couldn’t be anything but dazed. What is this dingbat saying? Who’s accusing him of prostitution? Heavens!

Devastated by his boss’ patronizing demeanor, Harry bolts out of the office, and never comes back. He incessantly mopes, but never shares his condition with Brix and Robbie. When Berna expires, Brix takes her body to the province (why she needs to be cremated elsewhere is befuddling) leaving Harry under Robbie’s competent care. In fact, the latter fawns on him like his own patient. From out of the blue, Robbie confesses that he is gay. And somewhere along the narrative misconjugations, Harry and Robbie get it on – by the staircase! Wehhh!

Will this coupling lend courage to the agonizing Harry?  Will this circumstance allow him to break away from his recondite dilemma? Would Brix and Robbie pursue their Canadian dream now that they’ve received word from their prospective employers? Or will love (believe it or not!) prevail?

Harry (Johnron Tanada) shares brotherly moments with nurse Robbie (Dice Vergara).


Director Paul Singh Cudail once again displays his profound philistinism to the topic at hand. His paltry insight on HIV and AIDS would have you believe that those inflicted become unproductive individuals, and that they automatically turn scourge of society. In fact, he showcases his ignorance by choosing the call center industry as backdrop to his misleading tale. After all, this industry is believed to have a swarming population of HIV-positive individuals (according to statistical reports). If Cudail is to be believed, that HIV-positive people cannot work at call centers, then it would probably spell catastrophe into the industry. A stark proof of Cudail’s idiocy is a scene showing the medical report that, indeed, Harry was HIV-positive! This paper was amazingly signed by an X-ray technician and a radiologist, instead of a medical technologist and a pathologist! Even my 7-year-old niece and my yaya (who didn’t finish grade school) know who does blood tests, and it isn’t the X-ray man, is it? I had to stop myself from laughing so hard. Geez!

Robbie is Canada-bound.


Like most Pink Films, the characters in “Hawla” (Cage) had to endure their requisite shower scene so they can flash their family jewels for a millisecond. Of course, it allows Cudail to ogle at Mygz Molino, John Relucio and nubile Dice Vergara as they allow Cudail to exploit them. You can only dream of getting into Cudail’s secret outtakes for his own masturbatory fun! J After all, you can hardly deny Cudail’s conceit where his actors are concerned. The proof, honey, is in the pudding. While Harry is washing his laundry, Ethan joins him in the bathroom so he could soap away his 2 incher. Instead of covering up, Ethan turns to the camera for a second, “adjusts” his towel and in the process, exposes his miniscule jitterbug - and we all clap with joy… err, I mean hilarity! I have never seen anything as “cute”. And really now, while you’re flashing it, it’s never flattering to deliver the goods in the “short” of things! Magnifying glass alert!

These uncomplimentary moments are the director’s fault really. He tends to be walking in a haze while filming this cinematic detritus. Maybe it’s Dice Vergara’s presence that muddles his storytelling adroitness – or the lack of it. Afterall, Vergara looks deliciously fresh, he might as well be newly harvested from Cudail’s Facebook rummages. Unfortunately, Vergara’s presence doesn’t pack a wallop, except when he disrobes and hands Johnron a pack of condom for his hemorrhoidal incursions. Mocha chocolata yaya, indeed! Right, Christina?


Johnron Tanada, the veteran hunk, moves in perfunctory fashion, but seems ill at ease in most of his scenes. He must really hate what he’s doing. Poor guy! John Relucio (as the mean-looking Tattoo Man) figures in a short but scorching scene with the diffident Harry. I'm telling you, all those sinister tattoos (see photo in this post to know what I mean) could singe the timid. Relucio in fact bears a strong presence. Too bad he was relegated to an exploitative cameo

Johnron Tanada


There are several head scratching moments in this flick. When is HIV testing a prerequisite for local employment? When Chris (Rein Soliman) learns about Harry’s test results, he goes amok. But wait, could he really contract the virus by just fellating the guy? Didn’t they get it on for like 5 minutes? Did he swallow? It sure is possible but statistics about oral sex are limited. The CDC in fact has this to say: “Yes, it is possible for either partner to become infected with HIV through performing or receiving oral sex, though it is a less common mode of transmission than other sexual behaviors (anal and vaginal sex). While no one knows exactly what the degree of risk is, evidence suggests that the risk is less than that of unprotected anal or vaginal sex.

In another scene, a Nihonggo-speaking secretary suddenly joins a long-jawed tranny in a gag-inducing dance – right in the lobby of a call center office! You wonder where this misplaced scene figures in an already bungled narrative. Cudail displays his ineptitude with such flight of ideas.

Now here’s a piece of the call center population. A lady trainor introduces a speaker – even before she identifies who she is – and says: “Our speaker will give you a short messages!” Another scene has an agent taking a call: “This is Kebin. How me I hilp you?” Anyare, ‘te?  And you wonder why quality of this industry is dwindling into fast mediocrity. When Harry was told about his condition (by the Call Center Manager, no less), the latter gives his two cents worth: “Don’t deny the reality if it’s the reality!” Ano daw?

The film’s most grievous sin lies in its stark ignorance of the illness. It does a grave disservice to the thousands of afflicted persons by portraying them as a useless, hopeless, dying breed fit to be caged in a dank, dark room.  Mr. Cudail is too ignorant to realize that a great number of this population is still productive – functional, happy – members of the community! Such opprobrious mentality deserves to be caged!  

Dice Vergara

John Relucio scorches as the Tattoo Man.

John Relucio

Rein Soliman as Chris Ramos, a call center supervisor.

Mygz Molino as Ethan: "Cute".

4 comments: said...

I love your reviews so much I'm gonna marry them. Thanks for the laughs.

Cathy Pena said...


You're funny yourself. Haha. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

HALAW then HAWLA. wala lang. ahha

-j. laxamana

Cathy Pena said...

@ Jason:

That wasn't lost on me. The very same reason I posted this review first before going into mediocre-land with "Born to Love You". Am glad someone noticed! :)