Sunday, September 2, 2012

Chris Martinez's I Do Bidoo Bidoo - Rousing and Joyful

Rocky Polotan and Tracy Fuentebella (Sam Concepcion and Tippy Dos Santos) are a young couple who enjoy a loving relationship. But when the latter finds out that she’s pregnant, they instigate a maelstrom of affliction that places both of their families in a quandary. While Tracy’s folks flounder in their affluent milieu, Rocky’s parents are persistently burdened by incoming bills. Pol (Ogie Alcasid), Rock’s father - a musician who has a single hit song to his name – subsists by giving guitar lessons to the children in his neighborhood. He’s mostly frustrated and uninspired by his misfortune. Rose (Eugene Domingo), his wife, struggles with her catering service.

The day the Polotans visit the farm villa of the Fuentebellas for the “pamanhikan” (asking for Tracy’s hand in marriage), the rudely gaping social discrepancy between the two families becomes painfully apparent. While Tracy’s dad Nick (Gary Valenciano) seems to calmly take everything in stride, mom Elaine (Zsa zsa Padilla) is conflicted. She sees a vicious cycle in her daughter – and she doesn’t want Tracy “to feel trapped in a loveless relationship”. At least wait until you’re older, she suggests. But the repercussions of having a child out of wedlock is a nagging concern for the Fuentebellas, and a stigma they’d rather spare Tracy from. “Atin ang babae,” Nick would reason out. Though Rocky is a board certified nurse, he is unemployed just yet. And Tracy’s strait-laced grandfather (Jaime Fabregas), a former military sergeant, isn’t compelled by tact or false civility to keep his thoughts. Over lunch, he unravels them. He does not want Tracy to wed Rocky who does not deserve his granddaughter.

Soon, insults are thrown around and fisticuffs ensue. The Polotans walk out with contused faces and bruised egos. Rocky and Tracy’s impending wedding is unceremoniously called off. What becomes of our star-crossed lovers? Is there happy-ever-after in a musical narrative? Guess.

Syotang Pa-Class
Doo Bidoo

Writer and director Chris Martinez concocts a delectable Romeo-and-Juliet tale by sumptuously utilizing the music of Apo Hiking Society. This cerebral exercise is so meticulously formulated that the songs of a generation – so familiar that they’re almost prosaic, seasoned, and common place – suddenly gain context for a new generation of music lovers. In fact, these songs feel like they’ve been written for the given narrative. Moreover, you cannot deny the timelessness of these musical ouvre. You further realize that these were a few of the songs hummed to you by your father; hymns of a lifetime once played on vinyl records now safely tucked away in some decrepit basement.

What’s more impressive is how Martinez is able to exquisitely insinuate contemporary issues into his seemingly mundane musical romcom: unemployment and the diaspora of the modern immigrants (“Blue Jeans”: Sige kayod sa skwela at balang araw makikita nyo. Pagkatapos ng iyong paghihirap, ‘Di ka rin makakahanap ng trabaho); teenage pregnancy (“Batang Bata Ka Pa” – Nagkakamali ka kung akala mo na ang buhay ay isang mumunting paraiso lamang); class wars, homosexuality (“Mahirap Talagang Magmahal ng Syota ng Iba”), etc. “Blue Jeans” is particularly surprising because the concerns of the 70’s vividly resonate almost 40 years later. It makes you wonder if the lives of that generation aren’t all that different compared to ours. Why do we have similar concerns? Have social conditions deteriorated since the turn of the century?

Sam Concepcion sizzles with an earnest performance that bristles with charm, pathos and urgency. Most singers would have trouble with cinematic emotions, but impassioned Concepcion hits all the right notes! In fact, it’s hard to consider this anything less than a career high. Tippy Dos Santos is a great cinematic find. She’s easy on the eyes, sings like a lark, and tempers her lines with adequate verve and emotive skill. Ogie Alcasid shines in a surprisingly restrained turn. I’ve never considered him in dramatic light, but Alcasid is a revelation here. When he utters: “Kinahihiya mo na lang ako lagi” or “Lahat tayo, kailangan ng inspirasyon sa buhay”, your heart crumbles with palpable affection.

Zsa zsa Padilla utilizes her pent-up frustrations here; a career-best. What I admire most is how consistently she tackles Elaine, a long suffering wife eternally patient and hopeful in a loveless marriage with a hubby who mostly ignores and disdains her presence. Her sedulous take of her character is nothing short of brilliant, and her singing is impeccable. In fact, her “Tuyo ng Damdamin” rankles with regret, you just want to whisk her off her agony. Eugene Domingo balances her fretful Rose with intermittently biting lines that sent me chuckling so loud. We all know someone who nags like that: “Default mode nya yan. Laging galit!” Gary Valenciano is a little tentative with his characterization. He defines his portrayal  with large strokes fit for music videos. Fact is, this is his comeback film after almost 20 years of cinematic hiatus. Fortunately, he enjoys good chemistry with Padilla, so that's a plus!

Awit ng Barkada

I do have issues about using non-singers in singing roles, but Eugene Domingo more than passes muster, although she could have done a wee better in her “Di Na Natuto” duet with Alcasid. After all, paying homage to the songs of a generation includes singing these songs beautifully. When, Dame Judi Dench, for example, performed “Send in the Clowns” for her role in Sondheim’s wistful “A Little Night Music” at the Royal National Theatre in London, it was heartfelt, but I helplessly looked for the beautiful melody. Melodies deserve to be sung as they were written, not recited into a half-song. Anyway, Dench won the Olivier that year. Domingo is clearly inspired, and it shows. Her “Awit ng Barkada” number with Frenchie Dy (as BFF Lilibeth) and Sweet Plantado (as BFF Vicky) was a touching tribute to friendship, I had to control myself from shedding a tear because – heck! – the scene wasn’t schmaltzy! But you see, beautiful numbers just make me cry (dramatic or otherwise).

A considerable, albeit bittersweet side story involves Neil Coleta’s Brent, Rocky’s closeted best friend who’s in love with him. Though his scenes inadvertently provide humor, you can’t help but be taken by Brent’s emotional impasse. This narrative string is so beautifully written, it deserves a separate movie of its own. In fact, I am urging all the Pink Film makers to turn their attention to this film for inspiration! This short narrative detour amounts so much more than all of the Pink Films shown in 2011 combined! It is funny, empathetic and insightful. It doesn't paint the gay man as hormonal, albeit sexual predators possessing the brain of a Hydra! An important scene here involved John Lapus shedding a tear while Coleta dedicated his “Kaibigan” song to Rocky – at a videoke bar! This understated and wistful vignette was a perfect finishing touch to a cinematic Mona Lisa. It was just beautiful!  

The narrative isn’t seamless. It’s guilty of “fast resolutions” common in romcoms. It could have invested a little more time to write the gradual resolution or settlement to Rock and Tracy’s dilemma, but then I understand the limitation of time allotted for such flicks. In fact, I think I saw “Paano” in the credits, but the scene involving it didn’t make the final cut. Needless to say, one of my favorite numbers was the “Blue Jeans” dance routine involving a huge crowd in La Salle Dasmarinas. It was just kinetic, and reminded me of some scenes from Jeric Soriano’sHotshots” (which also starred Gary Valenciano).   


We are a very musical nation. I remember my traveling cousin relate an anecdote about a Canadian backpacker he met in Vietnam last February (2012). The Canadian guy has a Filipina girlfriend who would take him to karaoke nights with fellow Filipinos in Vancouver. His favorite: “Ewan”! And just before my cousin could dismiss this as pure hearsay, this white man suddenly lurches into “Mahal kita, mahal kita, hindi ‘to bola…” This is a guy who doesn't have clue on who Danny Javier, Jim Paredes and Buboy Garovillo are. Yet their musical legacy encompasses race and geography. Who can say that the APOs are mere historical anamnesis? We deserve our songs encapsulated and documented in films like “I Do Bidoo Bidoo”. These songs tell our stories, and we can only be grateful for the endless pleasure they bring.

Chris Martinez’sI Do Bidoo Bidoo: Heto nAPO Sila!” is a mirthful musical masterpiece that’s as rousing and hopeful in temperament and narrative exposition as the songs and stories of our lives. It deserves the patronage of every music-loving Pinoy. It should not be missed!  

Trading aphorisms in "Salawikain". Lalalalalalalalalalalalalala...

Contemplative Elaine sings "Tuyo ng Damdamin".

Songs featured in the movie:

1. Pumapatak na Naman ang Ulan - A recurring tune and Pol's one-and-only hit song!
2. Doo Bidoo - Cheerful number involving Ogie Alcasid and her guitar-carrying wards.
3. Syotang Pa-Class - In an exquisitely choreographed basketball dance, as Rocky describes Tracy, his syotang pa-class, and why he loves her.
4. Awit ng Barkada - Hilarious friendship song with Eugene Domingo, Frenchie Dy and Sweet Plantado
5. Panalangin - In a phone conversation at in front of an altar in a a rundown chapel.
6. Tuyo ng Damdamin - Elaine's contemplative scene comparing her daughter's situation from her own past.
7. Mahirap Magmahal - Coleta's song for his sleeping best friend on the day of their "pamanhikan".
8. Salawikain - Wonderfully choreographed "war at the dining table" scene during the "pamanhikan".
9. Nakapagtataka - On the night after the Polotans storm out from their "pamanhikan".
10. Batang Bata Ka Pa - A four-way song for the heart broken Rocky and Tracy. Rose and Nick join them.
11. Blue Jeans - A buoyant song and dance number at Rocky's university. Sam Concepcion, Neil Coleta and a huge cast dance up a storm.
12. Kaibigan - Brent's ode of affection for the grieving Rocky. John Lapus makes a short but memorable cameo.
13. Huwag Masanay sa Pagmamahal - Used in the closing credits.
14. Ewan - A playful and affectionate duet when Rocky and Tracy reunite.
15.Di Na Natuto - In a adorable scene that helps define Rose and Pol's relationship.
16. Pag-Ibig - Nick tells Elaine to stay with him.
17. Kabilugan ng Buwan - Lovers eloping.
18. Paano - Nick asks Elaine to stay. This isn't the Gary V. hit, but a less popular APO track.

Tracy's gone and the Fuentebellas react.


sineasta said...

my favorite scene is syotang pa-class. that was really fun to watch the way sam's scene in the basketball court (kahit reminiscent of hs musical) is juxtaposed with uge's scene in the mall. sobrang proud nga raw si direk chris sa choreography & editing ng eksenang 'yun. feeling ko nga ay 'yung first song & sequence na do bidoo bidoo ay mahina as an opening act. nakulangan ako. buti na lang at bumawi sa syotang pa-class.

mahusay si sam, i agree! it's about time na mapansin talaga siya.

among the cast, nahinaan ako kay gary v. it feels like he's doing a music video or doing an asap production everytime he sings onscreen. his hand movements are distracting. feeling nagko-concert lang? maski siya, nahihirapang kontrolin ang kamay niya. even the acting was not that good compared to zsazsa's.

you're right, medyo minadali ang resolutions particularly the gary-zsazsa story. i guess sakit na rin ng most musicals 'yan since nagtatagal talaga ang film dahil sa songs at namamadali ang kwento.

Cathy Pena said...

@ Jheck:

Gary V provides the weakest character, and it doesn't help that he postures as "Gary V the artist" more than a family man with a suffering wife and a pregnant daughter. You don't feel this strife in him.

I was indeed going to write more about this but decided against it to avoid watering down my general conclusion for the film. No movie is perfect after all. :)

sineasta said...

irita kasi ako pag lumalabas siya sa screen. weak din ang pagkasulat sa character niya, i guess. nanghiyang din ako sa Paano sequence niya. paborito ko pa naman ang kantang 'yun.

Skilty said...

Cathy, Paano was the one sung by Gary to prevent ZsaZsa from leaving, right? said...

I also had a problem with the abrupt ending, but this article may help you (it also explains where Paano is): said...

Oops, it did not explain away "Paano" but says "Huwag Masanay sa Pagmamahal" was deleted from the final cut. Hmmm.

Cathy Pena said...

Hi Skilty:

Hmmmm. I considered that, but when i was writing this post, what came to my mind was Gary Valenciano's "Paano": Yakap, yakap ko sya dahil luha'y dagling dadaloy ngunit pa'no ko sasabihin ito.

You could be right. It's the other "Paano" - I remember the lyrics now - Subukan mong magmahal o giliw ko, kakaibang ligaya ang matatamo, ang magmahal ng iba'y di ko gagawinpagkat ikaw lang tangi kong sasambahin.

Thanks, Skilty. :)

Cathy Pena said...


I kinda think "Huwag Masanay sa Pagmamahal" deserves its moment in the movie too, but so does a lot of other songs. With regards "Paano", I think I may have pointed on the wrong "Paano". It is in the movie. :) Mea culpa.

Anonymous said...

by the way, what's with the Scooby Doo poster you chose to put in your post? Lolz


Cathy Pena said...

@ Jason:

Hayaan mo na! Cute naman, debah? And Scooby Doo rhymes. LOL

Armando dela Cruz said...

Hi Cathy,

you understand that you have put a Scooby-Doo poster, right? (Comment posted, before reading the review).

Cathy Pena said...


Scooby doobi do... bidoo bidoo. Scooby-doobi do... bidoo bidoo. Bidoo waaahhhhh!

Ayan, Tinanggal ko na. KJ naman kayo! LOL

Armando dela Cruz said...

Lol, I knew it was for humor. HAHA. Pagkalalim naman talaga ng review mo. Sometimes I need to have a dictionary on hand, para kong nagbabasa ng Dean R. Koontz na novel. Para akong nagbabasa ng Dark-themed dystopian comics. HAHA! Anyway, nice to know ur a vocabulary juggler. (I'm a bit lacking of those words, but I'm fine, I'd like to write simpler, so more people easily understands). VERY COOL REVIEW THOUGH. :)