Monday, September 24, 2012

GA Villafuerte's Lihim ng mga Nympha - Cinematic Plagiarism

Glenn (Walter Arenio) takes his friend Marco (Alvin Duckert) to the back roads of a remote town to visit his friend Nardo (TJ Morello). Upon arrival, the Manila lads learn that Barangay Masukal is a longer hike deeper into the woods – and tricycles refuse to go further. On their way to Nardo’s hut, Marco sees a bevy of scantily clad girls (“Labas ang suso”, he eagerly tells Glenn) bathing at the stream. But Glenn is in a hurry, “Baka abutan tayo ng tanghali.” The guys eventually find Nardo’s hut – in the dead of night! At the dinner table, Marco asks Nardo if nymphas really do exist in these woodlands. That night, inebriated Glenn disappears, only to be found in the morning enjoying the cool waters of the river. Glenn unexpectedly gets a visit from two girls who join him. Meanwhile, Marco meets Karen (Mia Henares) who whispers, ”Hayaan mong paligayahin kita,” then swiftly disappears from his sight. Later that day, they’re warned against the pesky nymphas.

The day after, Berting (Chubi Manalo), a young neighbor rushes to inform Nardo that their friend Carding (Bench dela Torre) is found dead, with a white flower beside his naked body. Their suspect: the nymphas. In another part of the woods, a bevy of girls wrapped in white loin cloth gather around each other, chanting a dissonant hymn. Cecilia (Adriana Gomez), the supreme leader of the group, announces that she has chosen Rosario (Honey Lopez) as her successor who would then inherit her powers. Karen shows her displeasure and storms out. Wasn't Rosario last seen teasing Carding to his hut?

That night, Glenn goes missing – again! Marco and Nardo scamper to find him before it’s too late. They find him being sexually manipulated, seemingly lost in the chagrin of the nubile nymphs. The ritual was on-going; the boob-baring girls were chanting gibberish – a really messy incantation, swaying their bodies with discrepant hand movements. Will they get Glenn back before it’s all too late? Will Glenn suffer the fate of Carding?    

A walk into the woods.
"Pare, may mga chicks. Labas ang suso," remarks Marco when he sees bathing nymphas.

In 2010, a local film was released on video called “Sa Piling ng mga Nympha” topbilled by Charles Delgado and directed by Chris Reyes. What’s more surprising - 90% of this flick mirrors Director G.A. Villafuerte’sAng Lihim ng mga Nympha” shown April this year – the plot, the scenes, the lines, the setting, etc. Some similar scenes include: Charles reaches the woodland on a tricycle. When the driver was asked for Charles’ exact destination, the former replied, “Di na ako puwedeng tumuloy. Delikado na dito.” Another scene: a group of bare breasted nymphs were spotted by Charles bathing by the stream. Even casting is diligently inspired by the original: Since the 2010 version has an African-Asian girl in the cast, Villafuerte’s version hires an African-Pinay named Sarah Obama (who plays Estela) to complete the "copying". There are more “copies” found in “Lihim...” Yet you don’t find attribution to the original movie.

Now here’s the funnier fact: While 2010’s “Sa Piling ng mga Nympha” was moderately watchable, 2012’s “Lihim ng mga Nympha” turns out a film making atrocity. Everything about this “re-telling” is inferior to the original: performances, plot twists, technicals (exceedingly horrible sound: you couldn’t hear anything from conversations), etc. In fact, I was surprised to find a competent Winston de Dios in  the original version. His part had some degree of difficulty (he was running amok because his wife was abducted by the nymphs). De Dios turned mediocre once handled by exploitative directors Lucas Mercado (“Rigodon”) and Paul Singh Cudail (“Sulot”). Why is "Ang Lihim..." a lot worse than the original? Why "remake" a relatively new flick (2010)? Who told Villafuerte he could write anything decent - or that he could direct anything outside a children's play? More importantly, who gave him permission to debase better films, turn them into cinematic scraps, then call them his? Questions abound.


Nymphas”, in this film, is a neologism of sort. The term is a Tagalized version of "nymphs". But these entities aren't even part of Philippine mythical creatures. What are these creatures? Nymphs originated from Greek mythology. They aren’t goddesses, but minor female nature deities associated with a particular location (sea, land, wood, celestial and underground). They are “divine spirits” who dwell and guard their natural habitat. Depicted as beautiful young maidens, these creatures love to sing, dance and make merry. As consequence of their character, they are known to mate with humans who get caught under their spell.

I can only assume that Villafuerte's nymphs are analogous to our “diwata”.  Villafuerte however tweaks the nature of these creatures. After all, his nymphas do not exactly "mate” and “make love” – they “fellate” their victims. They also love ogling at their victim’s back sides. Isn’t that very gay?

Walter Arenio (as Glenn) and a friendly visitor
Alvin Duckert as Marco
Sarah Obama (as Estela) and Mia Henares (as Karen)
Honey Lopez as Rosario

Walter Arenio provides a dashing consort with his sculpted physique, sexy masculine swagger and very Pinoy looks. More importantly, he captures the relaxed demeanor of Glenn. If you think he’s a run-of-the-mill actor, think again: he played Tony, the boatman, in Auraeus Solito’s magnificent “Busong” (Palawan Fate). So his presence in an exploitative Pink Film baffles. Though he doesn’t wave around his pecker, he has several “wet bulging brief” moments and a couple of backside peekaboos that would make you blush.

Alvin Duckert has a more ambitious part because he evolves into a totally different character in the epilogue (one of the cringe-worthy changes from the original story). Prettyboy Duckert is an enthusiastic actor. While his performance is better than bland, Duckert fails to imbue emotive heft so he comes off as superficial. And please, Alvin, stop dressing up as a woman ever again. It isn't a flattering sight. Masagwa! TJ Morello fares better with comfortable demeanor; his delivery isn’t snagged by doubt or irresolute action common among noobs.


Adriana Gomez makes her film debut here. While she occasionally suffers from tentative emotions, she doesn’t do so badly. She isn’t allowed to do much except look “queenly” – as Cecilia, the queen of the nymphs. These days, Gomez appears in one (bad) indie flick after the next. She could probably be among this year's busiest. Bench dela Torre, as Carding, is expectedly disrobed. In the scene after his sexual dalliance with Rosario, he is left completely naked in bed, his flaccid appendage plopping down his abdomen. Ooohlala indeed! J 


Now let me turn to Chubi Manalo who turns in one of the hammiest performances this side of Jonas Gruet. He speaks like a 7 year old boy with Trisomy 21: monotone delivery, intonation that ignores syllabication and then there’s his speech deficiency – he lisps! And if that isn’t punishment enough, his lines are riddled with so much S’es – and if they were bullets, they’d have murdered him already. Check this out: “Di muna makapunta thi lolo kathi thinuthumpong thiya tha thakit ng paa. Thabi ng manggagamot, impothible daw ang pagkamatay nya, wala ngang dugo o thenyaleth na pinatay thiya.” That is a LOT of S’es for someone like dear Chubi. What I am saying here: a director who’s cognizant of the weaknesses of his actors would surely notice this and remedy the lines by finding substitute words that Chubi could properly deliver, instead of hurdling 13 S’es in his lines! Sigh. He is actually better off just bathing at the stream – sans speaking lines - since he adequately flaunts his engorged member under his wet undies better than he delivers lines. I am telling you, Chubi's had it more-than-adequately engorged! J      


The script is slapdash and thoughtless. I ask again, how can cinematic plagiarism turn out so much worse than the original? In a scene where Glenn gets an unexpected visit from two nymphas, Cecilia catches her wards canoodling with the bathing Glenn. Cecilia shouts their names to call their attention: "Hasmin, Karen... halika kayo rito!" Then Glenn stands up and shouts back, "Sandali, anong pangalan nyo?" Every creature in the woodland could hear Cecilia, but Glenn. Someone needs a hearing aid! When they found Carding dead without finding blood or any sign of foul play, they thought this was impossible. Hence must be caused by supernatural beings? Huh? Haven't they heard of "bangungot" (a relatively common concept in barrios)? Or a heart condition? Or a myriad of medical conditions that don't manifest with physical signs? 

If their lives were indeed in danger, wasn't it easier to just leave the darn place and go back to Manila? In Villafuerte's "Bahid", his characters similarly stay in a household that's gradually dropping like flies (there's a killer in this story), and I couldn't understand why they wouldn't just leave. You see, Villafuerte is so fixated by inscrutable weaknesses that are easily remediable. He constructs these problems - then gets stuck finding his way out of his own narrative dilemma. Wawa, debah? Villafuerte is also gravely inconsistent with his thoughts: the gist in this film is that nymphas seduce their victims then they die. But there were several scenes of seduction that didn't amount to anything, but an excuse to show the nymphs playing with their victim's joysticks. After all, these nymphs didn't like sexual intercourse. They prefer fellating their victims! How very inspired, right?    


The big difference between the two flicks is: the plot has been tweaked to accommodate Villafuerte’s pedestrian homoerotic fantasies. 2012’s version turned gay! By doing so, it artistically crumbled because of ineptitude and film making incompetence. Then again – this clueless director believes he completed “another masterpiece”. These days, the term "masterpiece" has acquired new meaning, and it isn't "work of outstanding creativity". It's the extreme end of the artistic spectrum. Makes your skin crawl.

Palawenos Alvin Duckert and Walter Arenio share company and a head-scratching plot twist.

Walter Arenio

Alvin Duckert

TJ Morellos

Chubi Manalo

Bench de la Torre

Bench de la Torre

Honey Lopez

Adriana Gomez

Light moment with the cast.

A scene with Charles Delgado from 2010's "Sa Piling ng mga Nympha".

Tense moment with Charles Delgado in "Sa Piling ng mga Nympha".

4 comments: said...

Another hilarious review. :-)

Cathy Pena said...

Thanks, Mark. :)

Anonymous said...

GA Villafuerte's Lihim ng mga Nympha - Cinematic Plagiarism


The original "Sa Piling ng mga Nympha" was shot
in 3 Days and Edited on the spot.
These plagiarists have "NO BRAIN" therefore cannot
think "CREATIVELY" and cannot think at all and does not know the meaning of "Hiya".

To answer the question "Who told them to do it?"...
The P*%$#! ... in an attempt to discredit me so they can getaway with "deficiencies".

The inspiration of my film "Sa Piling ng mga Nympha" is from feudal days of Japan when some "Geishas" are trained to be assassins since birth and master fatal botanical substances.
These beautiful "servants" (The Geishas) are sent as "Gifts" to Lords of the land for sexual pleasure.
The "Assassin Geishas" apply extracted and processed substances on their body so when anyone kissed them... are poisoned to death. :-)

SA PILING NG MGA NYPHA are scheduled to be
redone... BETTER without "exploited flesh" and will be exhibited PUBLICLY ... hopefully without tickets.

Hope to meet the blogger... and HIRE him/her :-)

Who Am I?
Direk Chris Reyes and my contact is 09202615688

Cathy Pena said...

@ Direk Chris Reyes:

Well, I am glad that someone finally spoke against this cinematic plagiarism. Otherwise, people would think that this practice is legitimate, thus would give the wrong signal to others, i.e. that copying without due attribution is alright.

It's interesting how film makers talk about parts of the process in doing the film: yours particularly was in reference to geishas. I half expected that "Lihim ng mga Nympha" was directed by a pseudonymed director; that it was actually G.A. Villafuerte "repeating" himself. I am glad to know that you're not Villafuerte because the original was watchable; the "copy" was not.

Exhibited publicly "without tickets"? Hmmm, am curious how this is done. Would look forward to watch the "new version" although I'd ask, why not just make a new movie with a new story - one that Villafuerte could "copy" and call his own "again". LOL

Re: hire. I don't work in the industry. I don't have ambitions to be part of the film making process either. I work better "watching" films. Thanks anyway. :)