Satirizing the Filipino film genres

Pablo A. Tariman - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – To a large extent, the Filipino film genres are decidedly predictable but Filipino audiences love them for what they are.

A dog howling in the dead of night is vintage horror image, courtroom scenes are the stuff of drama and bodies turning into punching bags still get Filipino action followers excited and a table cloth that metamorphosed into an underwear still get unbelievable dose of laughter.

Has the Filipino audiences evolved through the years with the so-called bakya crowd still dictating box-office results?

Directors Chris Martinez and Mark Meily try to dissect the Filipino audiences in the presscon of Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin, which is a trilogy that pokes fun at favorite drama films, signature action pictures, standard horror films and comedies.

They are using the words “parody” and “satire” to describe their work, conjuring images of the film industry making fun of itself.

But on the other hand, has the Filipino audiences learned to laugh at themselves and their predictable film choices?

Direk Mark is at the helm of an episode called Bala sa Bala, Kamao sa Kamao, Satsat sa Satsat, which satirizes the favorite elements of an action picture.

To begin with, Mark says 2015 was a good year for the Filipino filmmakers as many projects kept many directors busy. “I am talking about directors in both the mainstream and indie categories. Regardless of results in the box-office, the Filipino filmmaker continues to explore new subjects; many find challenge doing imaginative variations of the same subject and succeeding at the box-office. I guess time will come when the thin line that divides the indie and mainstream filmmakers will just vanish. Because some projects with indie budget gave some mainstream films a run for their money. That’s a good development. Historical films are getting a good share of audiences, thanks to social media.”

Direk Chris says he did nothing earth-shaking during the past year, which saw him learning how to bake and succeeding immensely. “What I can say is that last year saw a thriving film industry. As for the audiences, I think that in some ways, they have evolved, thanks to their easy access to the new technology. They have easy access to good films through the Internet and YouTube, and by and large, they are good influences.

“Finding our audiences is still a ticklish subject. You hope to find them with one subject and realize later they are not ready for the kind of films you have in mind. You hope to make them laugh with your own idea of comedy and when you succeed, you just have to study that connection — when it works and when it doesn’t. Some stories are good for one medium but can backfire in another. You just have to believe in your craft and your audiences to last long in this profession. You just have to discover for yourself what’s in and what’s out.”

Chris directs an episode titled Asawa ni Marie, which is a parody of the Filipino soap opera. The set-up is already funny with a love quadrangle figuring among a poor farm girl played by Cristine Reyes, the two brothers who own the farm and the girlfriend of one of the brothers who figures as the eternal villainess.

On the other hand, direk Andoy Ranay spoofs the Filipino horror film in an episode titled Shake, Shaker, Shakest also based on Bob Ong’s digital bestseller.

After dealing with mostly young promising actors in his blockbusters, direk Andoy finds himself the eye behind the camera with actors from another generation like Maricel Soriano and Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista.

Maricel said she had fun doing the movie but can’t handle other questions focusing on her craft or her present life.

To be sure, she had her time and her share of fame in the comic, horror and drama genres.

Some chapters of her personal life are episodes direct from Gulong ng Palad and one can only get curious whether some of her villainess film images are for real.

On the whole, direk Chris says the project is really three movies in one with many things to offer the movie-going audiences.

Like it or not, it is a good treat for film buffs who have learned to laugh at themselves.

Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin opens on Jan. 13.

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