In Nelia's mind, the 70's happened yesterday when the sweet-talking mechanic Delfin started to court her. He would show up where she worked, at a car accessories shop in Timog, and lavish her with attention - and hopia (bean-filled, mooncake-like pastry)! But yesterday happened 40 years ago.
For the hard working lass, Delfin (Jon Lucas) was an enigma. He showered Nelia (Michelle Vito) with affection, but he would disappear for long spells without much of an explanation. Despite all these, Nelia ignored the charming shop owner's son Victor (Akihiro Blanco) with his own romantic agenda. One day, Delfin disappears again. Nelia eventually learns that Delfin is afflicted with leukemia. Nothing short of a miracle can save the strapping lad. As a last resort, Delfin's family decides to take him to the U.S. to seek further medical intervention. Nelia never heard from him again.
As the years pass, an older Nelia (Boots Anson Roa) emerges from the ravages of time. Her memory intermittently takes her back to the tree outside the store where Delfin would usually meet her. She was willing to wait until he comes back again.
There's a certain charm in its basic narrative structure. Nostalgia after all is a delectable cinematic tool that's hard to brush off.
Unfortunately, there's little hint of artistic competence in telling the story. The whole production basically feels like a bad film thesis. It doesn't help that 70% of the scenes has "Blade" staring in your face, and shoving down your gut like an impacted stool.
If product placements were a legitimate practice in movie making, this wasn't the way to go about it. As you leave the cinema, you've overloaded your senses with Blade, and you don't want anything to do with it until you're Nelia's ripe age.
With a decent cast that also includes Freddie Webb, Rey PJ Abellana, DJ Durano, Roadfill, Garie Concepcion, and even James Deakin, the whole effort is a wasted opportunity. Michelle Vito and Jon Lucas are an adorable pair who work hard to make their flimsy excuse of a relationship look believable. Akihiro Blanco was the irrelevant third wheel. His character didn't have much traction. Parang wala lang! Remove him from the story, and it wouldn't make a difference.
Using non-actors, which I presume included owners of the Blade shop, to perform different characters on screen was painful to watch. I'd rather have root canal than endure their stolid or overly dramatic turns. One, in particular, was the actor portraying Delfin's brother - and the surly mother! Another robotic cameo was turned in by the guy portraying Victor's dad who could hardly make his facial muscles move! It was like witnessing how "cogwheel rigidity" looks like - for people with Parkinson's Disease. Like Richard Yap, without the charm!
There were several ideas that could have worked but didn't - like the poetic bantering of Nelia and Delfin, which was short-lived. What horribly written lines! The side stories had shoddy treatment and didn't contribute to the movement of the story (an asthmatic father played by Rey PJ Abellana). It would have made Nelia's story richer and more engaging.
If there was anything barely watchable about the film, it's the music video played at the credits, featuring the spirited cast taking turns singing the radio-friendly "Iisang Pangarap". In the music video, you'd find a relaxed cast monkeying around. Surely, the production didn't scrimp on its actors. And if you want to watch James Deakin shimmy a bit, this is a rare chance. Yes, Mr. Deakin, "the Filipino is worth driving for" - he's made to say it. But don't push it. We did not appreciate your fraternizing with the son of a tyrant who indeed pilfered the country's coffers, and tortured and killed thousands of Filipinos. There.
As for the music video we were talking about, click on the Youtube link below. It's more entertaining than the movie itself.