Monday, December 15, 2014

Nico Salvador's "Tatay Kong Bading" - Elementary Cinema Returns

Ike (Ike Sadiasa) is an preachy father of four, including grown up Mia (Mia Henares) and her younger brothers. Mia is a hard-working ambulant vendor whose brothers gather and sell wood. But life isn't all that bad. Mia maintains a relationship with charming Charles (Charles Delgado) who, unknown to Mia, is her father's object of desire. (He buys him drinks in plastic cellophanes. How chic, right?) Meanwhile, young lovers Barbie (Barbara Chavez) and Mico (Mico Madrid) can't keep their hands off each other, a sight that makes Mia despairingly envious. After all, her swishy father has just reminded her to finish her studies first so she can eventually help send her brothers to school.

One day, Mia comes home with a bad news. "May nangyari po sa amin ni Charles. Magsasama na po kami," she confesses to her livid father. She gets a slap and a mouthful, but this gets her to share her room with Charles who calms down his would-be in-law with a mere pat on the back.

But despite the seeming calm after the storm, Ike secretly talks to Alfonso (Enrique Sapanta), the kanto boy who's forty-turning-fifty. "Matagal na kitang gustong maging manugang," prods Ike who asks Alfonso to devise a scheme that would hopefully break Mia's relationship with Charles.

Alfonso then abducts Mia and rapes her. This frustrates Charles so that he goes on a drinking spree. He haunts Alfonso down and stabs him - without any one aware of his delectable act of vengeance. One night, Charles comes home dead drunk. Effusively benevolent Ike then assists his strapping son-in-law to bed, then (whaddayaknow?) in Charles' drunken stupor offers to massage him. (He can't even walk. Why would he sit up for a massage?) The wrinkly father-in-law then gets his hand on him - and, subsequently, his buccal mucosa to taste what his daughter has been feasting on. But inflagrante delicto, Mia catches her father with his mouth errrr... "full". What to do?

The morning after, Ike sees the error of his ways. He wails with grief, "Ipinagkanulo ko ang aking anak para sa isang lalaki," he cries ever so horridly - but of course he elicits his sense of remorse after he's tasted (more than) a few inches of Charles. (wink wink)

He grabs what seems like a blunt knife (the one served to gently slice meat during fine dining), runs faster than Usain Bolt, heads to the shore, cries further like a toddler on false teeth, kneels down, and dramatically stabs himself. Ouch. Not with a blunt knife. Everyone rushes to his dying body and cries. End.

In this scene, Sadiasa checks his son-in-law's wares while he bathes.
Director Mike Angelo Salvador's return to B-movie territory (he directed "Mahilig" in 2010 and has another film, "Bayad Utang" released this year)) is as randomly vacuous as his previous work. In fact, it isn't the easiest thing piecing together one coherent story from the way he presents his narrative. The progression of scenes seem aimless, and the running logic feel arbitrary at best. In the story, he dreams of a good future for his daughter yet he allows a "kanto boy" to rape her and be her new lover? Huh? Do we even see him work?

Lazy and inept film making is at play here. What's painfully evident is the lack of a back story. How did someone as effete (and old) as Ike have four children? Where is the children's mother? A case of supply-the-missing narrative? And if he really wanted good education for his daughter, why don't we even see her go to school; not even a pretense of studying, or wearing a uniform for that matter? A lot of things are missing in this narrative bubble. If you aren't flabbergasted yet, wait until a chirpy French song plays in the background. How avant-garde indeed.


Ike Sadiasa, gloriously swishy, wrinkly and balding - and can't act to save his life - gets "executive producer" credit as well, although this film could possibly be produced by the director's family. If you want more clues to this outfit's harebrained artistry, check their theatrical poster. They can't even get their stars' names right. And if you haven't noticed, the scriptwriter won't even assign fictitious names to his characters, thus the characters in the story carry the stars' screen names. Didn't I say lazy? Mia Henares becomes Mia Henandez. Barbara Chavez becomes Barbie Chaves. I could even hazard a guess that Enrique Sapanta could actually be "Zapanta".

Kristine Mina is prominently on display on the theatrical poster, you'd think she was central to all these shenanigans. Mina plays a balikbayan lass whose idea of a good time is "maligo sa tabo" than "to frolic on Philippine beaches" because, according to her, she's gotten tired of the beaches of Canada. Huh? Havey na havey, debah? Edit her out of the movie, it wouldn't change the story. Her presence is mere conceit and remains disposable. Yet she highlights the poster. Go figure.

The only flicker of light in this godawful flick is Charles Delgado who's sorely missed in Pink celluloid. Delgado has always been a comfortable, albeit generous actor (in ways you can imagine); not long on gravitas but nevertheless conveys a natural demeanor every time he's on screen. You would if you started baring your inches when you were just an impressionable minor. (He blazed the Pink cinema trail when he was barely 16.) He has since retired and gone bulky; a far cry from his twinky image in the past.

In one scene, Mico and Barbie canoodle with each others' bits while Mia looks on. She tells them, "Itigil nyo na yan. Naiinggit na ako." The couple won't stop. So Mia giggly repeats her message, "Tumigil na kayo." They don't. How many times does she repeat this line - before it changes to another scene? Five. That's the width, breadth and extent of the film maker's imagination. I rest my case.  
Watch that nose. Barbie Chavez delivers as awkwardly as her screen partner Mico Madrid.

Sadiasa does hari-kiri with a blunt knife while Charles and Mia try to stop him.

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