Saturday, September 29, 2012

Emmanuel Palo's Sta. Nina - Coco Martin and Redemption

The parched and dusty sprawl in the sleepy town of Bacolor reflects the moral stagnation that has characterized Pol Mungcal’s life in the last ten years since his two-year old daughter Marikit died from meningitis. His abode is a desolate landscape of dust, mud and haze. And he subsists by quarrying the ravages of laharland. One fateful day, children unwittingly exhume the coffin that bears Marikit’s corpse. What’s baffling? The child looks well preserved and doesn’t show signs of decay.

With steadfast resolve, Pol (Coco Martin) embraces the coffin and singlehandedly takes his “child” back to town. His thoughts are a flurry of suppositions. This can’t be mere accident. It has to mean something.

Pol lives with a demented, albeit burdensome grandmother, Lola Bining (Anita Linda), in an unfinished house. Madel (Alessandra de Rossi), Marikit’s mother and Pol’s cousin, has long abandoned Pol for a life of less scrutiny by morally supercilious and economically gaunt townsfolk. Pol even turned his back sculpting religious artifacts out of wood. For someone who has lost so much from his missteps in the past, Pol is suddenly seized by a sense of hope. Could Marikit be his ticket to redemption?  

News spreads like wildfire. Soon people from the hinterlands visit to witness a miracle; something that hardly comes to an impoverished town gripped by apathy. People seem to hold on to faith in times of desperation. The crowd outside Pol’s home grows by the day. The ailing governor even drops by, hoping there’s cure for his cirrhosis. Even the media’s been poking its ugly head. When Madel gets wind of this, she tells Pol to just bury their daughter, but he wouldn't budge. Everyone believes. But the church. After all, not a long time ago, Melchor, a young man who allegedly saw the Virgin Mary, turned out to be a hoax. These days, Melchor is a crossdressing person named Zora. He is reviled by his neighbors and “sinusuka ng simbahan”. People are understandably more circumspect.

Then ailing people start getting healed. Lola Bining regains her lucidity. The governor’s cirrhosis disappears. Ben, the dysuric neighbor, can urinate with ease. His financially struggling – and very pregnant wife Malou – wins lottery. A child’s neck mass recedes. Who can turn their back on this spate of miracles? The town experiences resurgence of religious conviction. Pol now wants his daughter’s corpse – and accompanying wooden sculptures - be blessed and proclaimed a saint. The believers soon organize a “lakbayan” (a procession) to rally for Marikit’s sainthood in front of the Bishop. What becomes of Pol, Madel. Lola Bining, and the hundreds of faithful? Is Marikit really miraculous? Or will she turn out to be another ruse like Zora?

Director Emmanuel Palo’sSta. Nina” rankles with an immersive premise that hooks you tightly into its exposition. In fact, the story telling is grandiose; it reminds you of the narrative dissertation of old classics like Bernal’s “Himala”. There’s diligent care in the build-up of characters; each one subsumed by transpicuous insight. This is evident in the dynamics of relationship among Pol, Madel, Sister Josie (Angel Aquino as Pol’s sister) and Tiya Cora.

The performances are nothing to scoff at. Coco Martin is effusively committed, without the excesses of his teleserye persona. You cannot help but sit back and hold on to your arms rest as he navigates in his desperate bid for redemption. Marikit, his child, was his way to moral atonement. True enough, Marikit was his way out so people could forget his incestuous past with cousin Madel. He ironically derives and reclaims his dignity from a ten-year corpse that was once his source of embarrassment. Indeed, “Bakit sa mga makasalanan nagpapakita ang Birhen,” asks Zora.

Palo’s pace and cinematic mounting seem deliberate and almost elegiac; the emotions on exhibit are most palpable in wistful moments of scrutinizing close ups. Nor Domingo (who has a short cameo) delivers a gorgeous cinematic palette and a dazzling camera work that captures the essence of the place. Dean Rosen’s music is as hypnotic as the volcanic dunes of Pampanga. Liza Magtoto and Palo’s writing is inspired although the concluding part could have been rendered less stagey.

Coco Martin is luminous; his eyes soulful as he carries his dead child. In his face, we feel the weight of gravity as he gingerly takes his stride towards every destination (i.e. his home or the church in San Fernando). As I’ve once written, this is vintage indie Coco Martin, and what a joy to behold. Alessandra de Rossi is equally stirring, but then when was she not? We’ve mentioned about Anita Linda’s redundant role (as a demented grandmother who rambles and wanders around) here, similar to her depictions in Olivia Lamasan’s “The Mistress” and Chito Rono’s “Caregiver”. Irma Adlawan is likewise predictably surly and one-dimentional. Leo Martinez, as the Bishop, is a bothersome presence and, is thus miscast as he lividly caricatures the religious order.

I have mentioned though that the flick is hobbled by a dubitable third quarter – the “lakbayan”. We are all creatures of religion; and we should know more than anyone that there’s a process for sainthood. Lorenzo Ruiz took years; the well-loved Pope John Paul II may take decades. It isn’t like we’re just recently introduced into this predicament. Pol has a nun for a sister (competently played by Angel Aquino). She could have saved them the long travel from Barangay Saplala to San Fernando. And it is annoying how such ignorance had to include other hopefuls who never got the cure for their emotional and physical ailments.  

Sometimes, religious constitution dictates the standards of our morality. We have scruples that continually govern our lifestyle. Such dilemma should be remedied by whatever it is that doesn’t harm others. I would like to think that whenever we face gray areas, our decisions are only answerable to God; not the church. So why do we need their blessing?

Alessandra de Rossi is Madel.

Anita Linda is Lola Bining

Melchor becomes Zora, the former visionary. Judiel Nieva, anyone?

Governor Dodo and his aggressive wife: "Don't you want to be recognized as the governor of Pampanga's first saint?"

Irma Adlawan as Tita Cora

Lola Bining gets her lucidity back

Lakbayan for Marikit's sainthood

Church gets an audience.

Kissing cousins Pol and Madel

Pol and Lola Bining

Coco Martin (above and below)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bb. Joyce Bernal's Of All The Things - Cinematic Delight

Emil (Aga Muhlach) unexpectedly lucked out when he failed his bar exams. After all, he’s among UP Law’s top students. Meanwhile, his girlfriend (Miriam Quiambao) successfully hurdles the bar and becomes a lawyer. She would then become Emil’s constant reminder of his failure. So they part ways. This adversity puts his life in stasis. These days, Emil illegally works with a typewriter under an umbrella by the roadside, notarizing documents for a fee. With his dignity tucked like tail between his legs, Emil is a fallen man. His successful brother (Raymond Lauchengco) constantly sneers at him, and his father (Tommy Abuel) – a retired, albeit brilliant law professor – all but glances his way with clipped conversation. They haven’t spoken about his academic debacle; and it’s burrowing down his self esteem. So he keeps to himself.

Meanwhile, Berns (Regine Velasquez) is a professional fixer with dubious connections to prominent people. She introduces herself as a politician’s former youth leader, then insinuates herself in the company of influential politicians: mayors, governors, even Senator Chiz Escudero. This allows her to push disputable contractors for a fee, of course. In various occasions, these acquaintances get her out of a bind. One day, she meets Emil who so impressed her, she decides to hire him to pose as her lawyer – one of her contacts refuses to pay her commission when a deal turns sour. This commences into a partnership that would have Berns take Emil under her tutelage.

When Emil acquiesces, Berns begins planning Emil’s life. While the two deny their obvious attraction to each other (“Di kita type”, Berns would say), their constant companionship soon turns amorous – and they’re found kissing each other. Emil tells Berns that he’s fallen for her, but she’s adamant. Unfortunately, Berns’ mother (Gina Pareno) isn’t crazy about the non-lawyer. She’s afraid Berns would end up like her who subsists selling fake bags (“They’re genuine leather,” she’d say) while her husband (Ariel Ureta) stays home.

One day, Berns hands over Emil’s application forms to re-take the bar, complete with references and the necessary documents. Emil freezes. In his mind, he can never face such loss again. Berns’ actions so enraged him, he storms out leaving his tearful “partner”. Is there happy ever after for our kindred protagonists? Guess.

Director Joyce Bernal seems most inspired whenever she works with Aga Muhlach and Regine Velasquez. Bernal's tandem with scriptwriter Mel Martinez-del Rosario has produced one of the most artistically and financially successful local romcom-trilogy of all time: 1999’s “Dahil May Isang Ikaw”, 2000’s “Kailangan Ko’y Ikaw” and 2001’s “Pangako Ikaw Lang”. More than a decade later, Bernal brings back the magic with a more urgent and diverting narrative concern: how to deal with defeat. While majority of flicks in the genre is punctuated by cotton candy veneers and characters with bittersweet, albeit fairy tale lives, "Of All The Things" touches base with "losers". 

Bernadette's life wallows in getting through shady deals. Emil's is frozen with self pity. And if fantasies are made of these sad excuse of heroes, where then could people derive their inspiration? Bernal and Del Rosario guide us through the intricacies of patience, perseverance and love even from "losers" like Berns and Umboy (aka Emil). 

Aga Muhlach delivers another insightful performance that curiously parallels to his "deadbeat' role in Olivia Lamasan's "In the Name of Love". It is thus a testament to Muhlach's artistic sensibility that he was able to adequately delineate his role here. He succeeds to personify Emil with all his emotional pathos. Muhlach's silent moments are a virtual force of nature, like when he finally admits to his father how he needs his help (to review for his retake). His scenes with Abuel are heart breaking like when the latter tells him: "Sa araw araw na nakikita kong bitbit mo ang makinilya mo, ako ang nanliliit." The gravity between these two actors could summon tsunamis of emotion, you better hold on to solid ground. Needless to say, Tommy Abuel complements Muhlach's grief. Abuel, after all, is a real life lawyer; and his emotional gravitas is more than considerable. He is one of the country's best actors of all time.

In this movie, Regine Velasquez-Alcasid (she's billed as such) comes into her own. Her frenetic movements and assiduous demeanor are believable. Gone are her awkward facial ticks and affectations. Velasquez has finally learned how to relax and get comfortable with her emotions. In fact, she succeeds - with flying colors - to create a valid character and to make Berns an endearing soul; a tall order when you're a hideous professional fixer. Evidently, this is her career best.

The film is further punctuated by winsome characters, and not one of them is a throwaway: Gina Pareno as flaky mother Susana who's overly cautious of her daughters' affairs (she's so adorable and hilarious despite her nagging demeanor); Mark Bautista as Eps, Emil's cousin; John Lapus as Berns' assistant Rocky; Joy Viado as the errant contractor Mrs. Manubat; Raymond Lauchengco as Emil's brother; Jojo Alejar as Berns' suitor, and Ariel Ureta as Eduardo, Berns' father (His short line to his wife is memorable: "Minahal naman kita nang tapat.") Eugene Domingo cameos as a bar exam monitor.

Romcoms like this have a tendency to be predictable, but the characters are so beautifully written, you understand all their motivations and you empathize with their dilemmas. With brisk pacing yet unhurried exposition, unobtrusive music, occasional funny glibs, adequately developed characters, well-tempered performances, inspired writing, and the pervading theme on the redemptive power of love, it's easy to declare "Of All The Things" as one of 2012's most delightful and affecting movies. It allows you to leave the cinema with a lingering warm feeling - and a huge smile on your face. I am reminded why I love the movies. This is first rate entertainment! Do not miss it!     

This scene is not to be missed as Emil trades legal jargon with Bern's nemesis, Mrs. Manubat. This is so funny!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Olivia Lamasan's The Mistress - Morality Tales

For five years, Sari’s (Bea Alonzo) life has revolved around her burgeoning extended family and her special Thursdays. She works as the master cutter of a popular tailoring shop. She’s contented and has sought for nothing more than the needs of her family. One day, JD (John Lloyd Cruz), an architect, finds her in a bookstore. Her serene presence so enraptured him that he decides to pursue her despite her snide brush off: “Hindi lahat ng gusto mo, makukuha mo.” There’s more to Sari’s dismissal than meets the eye. After all, their attraction to each other is palpable. Why does she avoid him?

But fate is a precarious adversary. JD finds Sari working for a client he’ll be working for in the next few months – to renovate the tailoring shop’s working space. As he openly pursues Sari, it soon becomes clear that the impediment has something to do with Sari’s Thursdays, a day she gets off work, visits a two-story duplex where she stays for the next 24 hours, gets dolled up, and satisfies her “duty” as the mistress to an elder, albeit married gentleman named Rico (Ronaldo Valdez). Though this arrangement seems impassioned, Sari soon unravels to JD that she’s paying debt of gratitude for help that was once extended to her demented Lola Lina (Anita Linda) and Sari's struggling family.

What JD doesn’t know: this gentleman happens to be his father Frederico Torres, owner and CEO of a financially lucrative telecom firm; a father he doesn’t quite see eye to eye with; a husband who constantly strays, to the consternation of Regina (Hilda Koronel), his wife and JD’s constantly forgiving mother. She knows about her husband’s affair, but she is constantly reminded about her previous indiscretion; one that bore a child – Eric Torres aka JD. Eric is subtly admonished everyday for his mother’s “sins”, thus he maintains a sour relationship with the man who took Eric for his own son. After the death of an elder son, Rico needs Eric as his deputy C.E.O., a job that Eric resists with a passion.

While Eric deals with familial strife, Sari is more and more torn between JD’s diligent pursuit and Rico’s suddenly acquisitive streaks (he now requires other days outside Thursdays), unaware that JD is his son. “I realized I can’t share you with another man,” Rico tells Sari. Is there hope for our star-crossed lovers?

Director Olivia Lamasan carefully weaves a story that curiously validates an extra-marital dilemma, and she does this quite compellingly. The script is riddled with cryptic or humorous lines that would intermittently have you tapping with glee: “Bukas uulan, makukuha ko ang gusto ko.” Huh? Aren’t we trespassing Cathy Garcia-Molina’s territory?

Hilda Koronel’s drunken scene should be made a Gold Standard for actors: “Thursday, the one day of the week that makes me want to regret everything. Every fucking Thursday; every Thursday fucking.” Koronel delivers this line without florid sentimentality, her voice dipping low, turning almost inaudible, but you sense her grief. Clearly, there is no one like Hilda Koronel, the film’s most underused character. I love the way she speaks her English – and this is the “Filipino English” that I always mention here. She’s lived in the U.S. for years yet you never hear her deliver those phony accents heard from the likes of Piolo Pascual, Jericho Rosales, John Arcilla, Cesar Montano, (Unfortunately, the list is growing.) You even hear Piolo lose his “rolled R”, badly monkeying how the Brits do it. Take it from La Koronel! Now that’s classy Pinoy English: clear, emphatic, and devoid of spine-tingling Middle Earth “security guard” accents. Right, Mr. Arcilla?

When Koronel asks: “Why is he doing this to me, son? I love him,” you understand the gravity of her misery. Even her less emotive lines are a joy to hear: “Why do I only see you during National holidays? I miss you, son. I hardly see you.” Even gag-inducing lines (“I hate you. I hate you because I cannot hate you”) turn into cinematic magic. There’s more: “As long as I’m alive, you will never be promoted to wife.” Why are we denied Koronel’s sophistication and brilliance? We need to see her more often. She can teach many new stars a thing or two about grace and thespic grit. 

The situations in Lamasan’s The Mistress” are, of course, apocryphal. After all, you don’t always want to sympathize with someone who entertains the advances of a married man, yet Bea Alonzo imbues her character with adequate sympathy, we might as well make a saint out of her. How can she love someone who imposes himself on her; someone who tells her which slinky dress to wear for a dinner out? You have to admit, she looked like a tramp in her back-baring “suman” dress, debah?

Bea Alonzo, still the most gifted actress of her generation, delectably inhabits Sari with a highly nuanced turn. Her instincts are so fine tuned she never misses a step. The same can be said about John Lloyd Cruz who’s as conflicted about his familial status as he is of his relationship with Sari. Cruz, in fact, seems to be walking in the park. Cruz shines in silent moments: “Ang daming dahilan para hindi kita mahalin. Kung bakit di ko magawa, kasi mahal kita.” He switches tantrums with finger-snapping precision. And if there’s one thing evident about this film, it’s the prevalence of “mood swings”. They’re amorous one moment; surly the next.

Ronaldo Valdez makes a career-best performance as he depicts Frederico, the man who wants to have his cake and eat it too. His emotive cadences are spectacular, e.g. his argument with John Lloyd at the office. One moment he tells his son that he needs him (“Anong gusto mo, luluhod ako sa harap mo para pumayag ka?”), then he tells Eric how he owes the company his attention. Even when he drops emotionally charged lines (“Ano’ng karapatan mo, Sari? Kerida lang kita!”), you don’t feel the mawkishness of the scene. My favorite scene with Ronaldo was his conversation with Eric at his hospital bed: “When I saw you with your big round eyes, I knew you were mine. That’s why I gave you my name.” I had to moderate my emotions to avoid making a fool of myself inside the theater.

"But I'm still fucking choose to stay!" Ano daw?


Some characters, like Anita Linda’s Lola Lina, are a tad too familiar and showy. If you remember Coco Martin’sSanta Nina” (opening in commercial cinemas this week), this was a similar character (the dementedly verbose and Alzheimer-stricken old woman) transported to a different movie. But wait? Isn’t she the same “Lola Miling” in Chito Rono and Sharon Cuneta’s “Caregiver” (2008)? Sometimes, that’s the trouble in using trite characters just to populate their narrative world. Writers forget. Carmi Martin, playing Bea’s mother, also sticks out like a sore thumb. Moreover, didn’t they realize that Sari is gone every Thursday? Wasn’t her weekly disappearance a cause of concern for them? If Sari was indeed the tailoring’s best cutter, why was she open target for the cantankerous Mr. Zarate (Gabe Mercado)? In fact, Zarate’s ire was a valid reason to get mad (Sari used cotton instead of pina for Zarate’s barong). If you’re a great seamstress, you don’t mistake your pinias from your cotton linens, do you?

The Mistress” employs a narrative course that’s almost emotionally Machiavellian. Lamasan mostly succeeds in this aspect. But the veracity of emotions is, no doubt, buoyed by the film’s laudable four-way lead! The lingering music is effective in hauling out emotions, but it’s a stroke of inspiration making use of Snow Patrol’sChasing Cars” to anchor Sari and Eric’s predicament.  “If I lay here, if I just lay here, would you lie with me? And just forget the world?” Some obstacles can overwhelm human emotions. Isn’t that sad?   

Regina hates Thursdays.

Attending a wedding at the Callao Cave up north.

Anita Linda does another demented Lola in "The Mistress", a role similar to her characters in "Caregiver" and "Santa Nina". While she is undoubtedly brilliant, one doesn't get high points for repeating ones self. 

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".