Mico (Rocco Mateo) is an unemployed loafer who lives with his friend Jerry (Jeremy Ian). He’s also oblivious of his friend’s growing affection for him mostly because he spends his time pursuing shy, but hardworking student Gina (Sidra Lorenzo). Gina only wants to finish her studies so she could provide a better life for her impoverished family in the province. But Mico persists, even promising the moon, the sun and the nearest galaxy of Ursa Minor (though I would suggest he should start by looking for a job first). She initially brushes him off until the inevitable happens. She falls for the gentleman’s eccentric swagger (he walks like a newly circumcised guy, I kid you not). Besides, what girl wouldn’t gravitate towards a guy who, on their first meeting – while she walks home from school – asks her, “Kailan mo ba ako sasagutin?” He isn’t in a hurry, is he? J
Meanwhile, their neighborhood is besieged by a drug peddling syndicate. Cocky and self-assured Eric (Charles Delgado), one of Mico’s friends, is running around, selling drugs. The local police have been alerted and they’re itching for a sting that would entrap the pusher. One day, during a calculated operation, Eric throws his stash to Mico during a hot pursuit. This throws our indolent protagonist to jail. With no hope in sight for helpless Mico, Gina intervenes by offering herself to the drug enforcement head honcho Col. Henry Marcelino (former sexy stud Lucas Leonardo), one of Gina’s ardent suitors. Broken hearted by her own decision, she quits school altogether, comes home, then marries the pudgy gentleman in exchange of Mico’s freedom, thus “Kapalit ng Ligaya”.
While Henry is a loving husband and a good provider, we learn about the colonel’s illness: Prostatic Cancer, stage 4. Not only is it a terminal condition, but (the more immediate concern, if we were to believe the film) this disallows him to father a child. Poor Gina, debah? No Mico na nga, no “ligaya” and no “child” pa! Tsk tsk tsk! Little did Gina know that her friend and classmate Lara (Mia Henares) has already informed the authorities of his boyfriend Eric’s guilt, and subsequently, Mico’s innocence. Mico is eventually released. But what is his freedom for if he lost Gina in the process? Sniff!
|Sidra Lorenzo plays Gina, the main protagonist. Unfortunately for Sidra, they forgot to put her on the theatrical poster.|
Director Noli Salvador (“Haliparot: Mana sa Ina”) is back with narrative sketches that seem too rudimentary to be believable. His characters mirror nothing close to how people converse, move, reciprocate or behave in real life. I am aware that “fallibility of character” is an element in tragedy, but people in this story don’t seem to employ logic where a natural course of conversation is supposed to run its course. When does a guy court a girl and ask for her commitment on their very first meeting? And let’s not even forget that this occurred on the street. Classy, right? Moreover, Mateo isn’t even in the league of, say Derek Ramsay, Matteo Guidicelli or Rocco Nacino whose mere appearance can inspire a “yes” even before they ask! If someone does that to me, I’d have accommodated him with my gonad-cracking high kick! Remember, I may be wearing heels during such time – so imagine the consequences.
Rocco Mateo’s constant presence (he’s the guy in the center of the poster) in Pink Films is an enigma. He isn’t exactly God’s gift to women in the looks department. He isn’t gym-fit or possessing a six pack. Some guys get their allure when they smile. Mateo clearly doesn’t have the Close-Up grin either. He walks like he’d rather sleep because something’s too heavy between the legs. That must be it? His cinematic magic? J More importantly, he delivers his lines like he is munching on an apricot (para sosyal, debah). Sidra Lorenzo, the female lead, who didn’t even make it in the theatrical poster (isn’t that hilarious?), complements Mateo’s blandness, she does a wee better in Jigz Recto’s “Kasalo”. Jeremy Ian is forgettable in this flick. Heck, he isn’t even given a 3-seconder to flash his considerable “possessions”. His narrative strain is cut short like a premature ejac - errr… I mean, he’s prematurely ejected from the story!
|Jeremy Ian plays Jerry who's in love with his roommate Mico.|
FLICKERS OF INSPIRATION
Lucas Leonardo, looking a little too heavy for a former sexy stud, is satisfactory with his lines. In fact, he is one of the few earnest characters in a mediocre story. Then again, he was mentored by a good director during his prime, Maryo J. de los Reyes. In fact, he was in several flicks like “Tumakas Ka Sa Mundong Makasalanan” (with Yda Manzano), “Pahiram Kahit Sandali” (with Ara Mina and Alice Dixson), “Saplot” (with Monica Midler, Paolo Rivero and Kriselda Kristel) and the heart-warming “Huwag Po, Huwag Po” (with Hazel Espinosa, Allen Dizon, Zoltan Amore and John Apacible). Charles Delgado also turns in a good performance as the drug peddling Eric though his part was unceremoniously clipped. Delgado is comfortable with his lines and he seems to understand his motivations, despite an execrable script. This is probably because he’s been in the business for quite some time now, even disrobing and flashing his pecker when he was just 16 or 17 years old (for “Booking”, “Boylets” and “S.R.O.”) That was just 5 or 6 years ago. Wasn’t child pornography a law then? I wonder.
THE FORGETTABLES OF 2012
Like many indie flicks and queer cinema this year, “Kapalit ng Ligaya” came and went without people noticing it. It didn’t have the social media publicity blitzkrieg of those vomit-worthy G.A. Villafuerte flicks so almost no one knew about it. It had its commercial release last March 21 (2012), but suffered the fate of other 2012 flicks like Paul Singh Cudail’s “Maligalig” (April 18), GA Villafuerte’s “Ang Lihim ng mga Nympha” (May 23), Darry dela Cruz’s “Extra Serbis” (February 29) and Cleo Paglinawan’s “Itlog na Pula” (April 4). What fate again? No one knew they existed when they were on commercial release. If you ask me, this is good development because these are some of the worst films to come out since Jose Nepomuceno screened his “Dalagang Bukid” (Country Maiden) in 1919 – the first film produced by a Filipino. 93 years later, some cinemas exhibit films like “Id’nal (Mapusok)” and “Kapalit ng Ligaya”. Where has evolution gone? Why have we basically reverted back to the intellectual capacity of the Cro Magnons?
|Mia Henares with then boyfriend Charles Delgado|
|Charles Delgado, a screen veteran at 22/23.|
|Charles Delgado displays his wares. This photo is courtesy of rddantes.com.|
|Mia Henares plays Lara, a student in "Kapalit ng Ligaya"|
|Lucas Leonardo in his heyday.|