aaron2

My Life in Cebu: The Movies I Watch My Wife Watch

NEW articles daily! Subscribe below to receive daily updates with our new articles!

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

My wife will watch any Filipino movie; it doesn’t matter what decade it was made. Because I don’t speak Tagalog, I have watched parts of many of these same movies, but usually, it’s ME, watching HER, watching THEM and asking, “What’s happening now? What did she say?” Lots of the time, it’s me just hearing the movies from the next room.

Since most of what I am talking about is Filipino movies on Cebu cable tv, they tend to be from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Recently I have seen a few good Filipino films, but most Filipino movies I saw previously fell into three separate categories which I call: The Bang Bang Gun Movies, The Family Feud Movies, and The Love Triangle/Infidelity Movies. There are some pure comedies too, which tend toward slapstick and strange characters like Rico Suave. All of them, even the Bang Bang Gun movies are about Love because Romantic Love is the meat and potatoes (or the fish and rice) of the Philippines. My take on these Filipino movies in the past is that they suffered in the plot area. The same plot elements got repeated over and over again. Of course, I don’t speak Tagalog so allow me to project my sarcastic Western biases here which I will chalk up to poetic license and my personal cockeyed worldview.

Get Relocation Consulting and Coaching from Live in the Philippines

The Bang Bang Gun action movies have a lot of guns. I particularly like the ones from the 1980’s with Lito Lapid, one of Rachel’s favorites (“Because I think he looks like my dad.”) These always involve “Revenge,” and the star jumping over the hood of a car, at least twice, one hand on the hood and the other hand squeezing the trigger of his pistol. Think, sort of, of the worst Miami Vice episode, a bit earlier and set in the jungle; our hero is badly outnumbered. He has a beautiful girl as his accomplice. At least 100 bullets are fired from small arms or machine guns for each bad guy “hit.” The bad guys often die like we did when we played World War 2 or Korean War when we were kids. “Argh,” grab your stomach, spin as you fall to the ground, with gurgling noises or body spasms. Count to 10 and then you’re a new guy. There really isn’t much to the story; it’s action, action, action and a lot of shooting.

Family Feud movies of the past seemed to always have one really angry family member who shouts, (with at least 3 angry tirades,) or cries/ talks/wails about “what’s wrong with you,” loudly and repeatedly while violently shaking. If it’s a woman, others in the family try to soothe her while the shamed, younger family member just stands with her head down often with tear-filled eyes. They are terribly misunderstood. The angry person is often the father or mother and the recipient of this anger is a daughter or son, who, A) is ruining the family business, or B) is romantically involved with someone the angry parent doesn’t like. For most of the movie, these characters are one-dimensional. Pretty much what they do is be angry and moan their utter disappointment with the person that is the target. No one is on the son’s or daughter’s side, except for, Ta Da…the love interest. At the end of these films, there is a tearful reconciliation where dad or mom apologizes, tells the scorned son or daughter that he or she is loved. Family Harmony and love are restored.

One film that takes this “family misunderstanding” theme to the max is the 1983 film Karnal. Spot.ph says, “Philip Salvador sees his father attempting to rape his new bride and he goes absolutely (brilliantly) berserk. He hacks his father’s head off before slitting his own throat with the same knife. Talk about overkill.” Now there’s a family with issues, eh?

Love Triangles/ Infidelity, are common themes in Filipino movies, past and present, and if you are going to have conflict in a story, which all stories require, why not make it about unfaithfulness? Calling out “the other woman” including hair pulling and a well-timed bitch slap are frequent scenes in these stories. A classic is 1984’s Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin, Spot.ph says, “After finding her husband (Gabby Concepcion) passed out on another woman’s bed, a pregnant Myrna (Sharon Cuneta) attempts to walk out of the marriage, but not before she safely takes her husband home. He sobers up when he sees what she is about to do, and as he blocks the door, she attempts to hit him with her case.

Often the “other lover” dies in some way. If this is where the story goes, the death is always by car accident or 4th Stage Cancer. I don’t know why Filipinos like these causes of death so much, but they show up pretty often. After the death or the “Smackdown Climax” between the two women, these movies always have a happy ending.

A modern version of the same Love Triangle/Infidelity type film is No Other Woman. Christine Reyes, who’s married to handsome Derek Ramsay, lets her husband’s temptress Anne Curtis have it with the emotional force of a typhoon. Wham, Bam, Tears and Screams. It helps, of course that both women are in bikinis most of the time. Actually, this is a pretty good film; I even watched the whole thing.

So, these are some examples of this foreign reviewer’s “Three Types” of Filipino movies. But I have grown through my experiences here in the Philippines and have actually come to appreciate some Filipino films that I think have real quality.

One I liked was the film Four Sisters and a Wedding. It had the typical family strife, a love triangle, a mother and daughter emotional reconciliation, but the sisters played by Toni Gonzaga, Angel Locsin, Bea Alonzo and Shaina Magdayao added a lot of charm and humor to the story, and I laughed at the right spots especially when Angel Locsin and her sisters confront her unfaithful boyfriend.

Another Filipino film actor who really makes me laugh is Rodolfo Vera Quizon, “Dolphy,” whose death in 2012 ended his stellar and much loved comedy career. I think my favorite Dolphy film is Nobody, Nobody but Juan. Dolphy’s character is in a US nursing home run by his strict son. To entertain himself and ease his loneliness, Juan watches Wowowee on The Filipino Channel (TFC). His enthusiasm for the show rubs off on his friends in the nursing home, and they too, turn into Wowowee converts. When the son takes away the Filipino Channel as a cost cutting measure, Dolphy and the other “inmates” stage a Wowowee protest in their underwear. Very funny, even if I didn’t understand all the Tagalog words, much of the film is both English and Tagalog… sort of Taglish.

So, like I said, my wife will watch ANY Filipino movie. One of the reasons this is so is that she has so many Idols. I don’t get it. If you’d ask me who my idols were when I was her age, I would have named one, or two, or maybe three human beings from sports or politics or acting. But she is always saying, “I have to finish this song; she’s my Idol,” or “The movie’s almost over; he’s my Idol.” So I asked her for a list of her “Idols.” After 5 minutes with a ball pen she got distracted by something on the stove, so my research was cut short. If I had given her 30 minutes, I think her Idol list would reach 50 or 60. Please note: there’s an equally long list of actors, actresses and tv personalities she hates. Welcome to the Philippines.

Rachel’s Idols: Marian Rivera, Jennalyn Mercado, Liza Soberano, Julia Montes, Erich Gonzaga, Lito, Lapid, Sanya Lopez, Kim Chiu, Rhian Ramos, Julia Barretto, DingDong Dantes, Coco Martin, Joshua Garcia, Ian Veneracion, JulieAnne San Jose, Angeline Quinto, Sheryn Regis, Roel Cortez, Toni Gonzaga.

Rob Ashley

After travelling to the Philippines and SE Asia perhaps 15 times between 2007-2011, I decided to retire in Cebu and moved here in August 2011. Things changed fast. A month after I was here I met my wife Rachel; In 6 months I decided I was bored after having taught high school English and in a graduate school of education at a Portland, Oregon university for 30+ years; I looked around; I was hired as the Head of the English Department at a Cebu international school. Rachel and I got married; we bought a condo in Cebu City; we got two cats. After 3 years here I was offered a similar position at a Japanese international school, so we went to Japan. After two years there I was offered another position of Coordinator of Languages at a Vienna, Austria international school. Living in Europe was nice, but Rachel said, “It’s too cold here.” So, finally last August, we returned to Cebu for good, and I really am retired. I have learned that you pretty much take your life with you wherever you go. I have a PhD from the University of Oregon and I’m a diehard Oregon Ducks fan. Likewise an NBA Portland Trailblazers fan, so I am often up at 3 am on Sundays or Mondays to watch football and basketball games. Cebu is home now and many thanks to Bob Martin for LIP and the services and opportunities he offers us Expats.

Most Shared Posts

  • David Salad...
    As some are won’t do, I have at times entertained fantasies of fame. What I never imagined, th
    439 Shares
  • Move to the Philippines: How to do it...
    Move to the Philippines? Don’t quite know how to move to the Philippines? I wanted to come out
    151 Shares
  • Amoeba...
    I don’t know what it is about me and salads. Two weeks ago, I had one named after me, David Salad.
    116 Shares

19
Leave a Reply

avatar
11 Comment threads
8 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
9 Comment authors
ChazwormJayCordillera CowboyJohn ReyesEd Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Gary
Guest
Gary

At 2:30 in the afternoon, Monday though Saturday, Rubie watches her “drama” which are soaps. And it is always about power it seems. I really can’t get into that type of entertainment and I really don’t like people using it in real life. I had an attorney here thinking she was going to make me pay a lot of money because she thought she had some power. Well, the DoJ, her boss, set her straight. But my point is, it seems to me that the public here is programmed with this power trip they get off TV. Kind of sad… Read more »

Rob Ashley
Guest
Rob Ashley

Gary: I know what you mean. Movies and tv are the models for lots of human behavior. We learn from them and for kids that probably means how to be male or female, how to be in love and how to do lots of bad stuff. There isn’t a handbook for these things, so we watch other people. The models aren’t always good. The movies at the theater here have a rating system for different ages; I don’t know what regulates tv..maybe nothing. There must be something because there aren’t naked people on tv, but the stories and what they… Read more »

Luke Tynan
Guest
Luke Tynan

Good article, my wife also watches the 4 grouping (Superhero or supernatural) group. Some I enjoy even if I do not understand what is being said. For me I enjoy many of the comedy movies. I find them to be good. But then I enjoyed Jerry Louis and Dean Martim when I was young as well as Abbott and his partner. Thank you.

Rob Ashley
Guest
Rob Ashley

Luke: The ones about romance are on constantly at our house. I do like the comedies sometimes; the horror movies look like they had a budget of $8 and use ketchup packets from Jollybee for the visual effects. Thanks for your comments. -Rob

Steve
Guest
Steve

What drives me crazy is that it seems like about 1 in 10 sentences is spoken in English and then the other 9 sentences are in Tagalog.

Rob Ashley
Guest
Rob Ashley

That one sentence in English is how I know what’s going on. There’s often a funny gay character too, which is fine, but that character who happens to be gay, is always for comic relief. Now that I think of it, there’s often a fat kid too. I’m not sure I understand these casting decisions. It’s culture. It’s all culture.

Ed
Guest
Ed

A couple I found worthy of buying the DVD year ago when they were new:
– Yamashita (2001)
– Tatarin (2001)
Not bad watching:
– Xerex (2003)
I won’t offer spoilers which you can easy enough locate via Google.
Better just watch and enjoy the movies, enhanced with some knowledge of Tagalog.
If you can’t find the cheap-enough DVD, you can surely just download them these days (for personal use only and NOT distribution).
You might also try some of the Nora Aunor movies.
All the above with real plots, scripts, and acting, not the usual cruft on TV.

Rob Ashley
Guest
Rob Ashley

Ed: Thank you for the recommendations. Always looking for those. -Rob

John Reyes
Guest
John Reyes

Rob –

Here is a Filipino movie that Rachel might like. It might even make her cry. LOL (It moved me).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyONbn3WRTU

Jay
Guest

Hi John, That looks like a good movie. My wife gets mad when they speak to much English. She watches movies and old Wowowee episodes on her phone. I would like to ask a favor of you and anyone else reading the comments. I have started a website it is in its infancy and actually I have started two. The first I started with a site building company called Wix. I upgraded to a premium plan, but decided it was not a good fit for me and took advantage of their refund policy. I now own a domain from them,… Read more »

John Reyes
Guest
John Reyes

Hi Jay – Just want you to know that I left a comment on the peanut butter article, but it doesn’t seem to be working. It did not post, or, at least, I did not see it. It also said there is one comment already there before I made mine, but I did not see that one either. Perhaps you can ask Bob to help you.

Jay
Guest

Hi John,

Thanks for trying! I am not sure why the comment did not work. I posted a comment on my “Robbing the Cradle” article and saw it. I am not sure if that was because it is my site. I will tinker some tomorrow if I get a chance.

Peace

Jay

Rob Ashley
Guest
Rob Ashley

John: Good one. Rachel hasn’t talked to me for two days except for an occasional, “I love you.” I signed up for Netflix. She found The Vampire Diaries, all 8 seasons and 171 Episodes. I think she’ll come up for air by the end of the month. -Rob

Cordillera Cowboy
Guest
Cordillera Cowboy

Hello Rob, Dolphy was my introduction to Filipino movies, way back when we watched them on tapes. I liked him. I could easily follow the story, even if I didn’t understand all the dialog. You analyzed things deeper than I have bothered to. I just know, the local folks are not interested unless there is crying, yelling, and fighting involved. I do think there is some sort of rating system for TV. I sometimes hear a serious voiced announcer speaking Tagalog before some shows. After several repetitions, I could make out the words horror, and droga. Then, it sounds like… Read more »

Rob Ashley
Guest
Rob Ashley

Pete:
I think we should both try really hard not to get Szechuan and sex mixed up. I mean it might be fun, but I’m too old. I know what you mean about the shows…Sweet and Sour Crying, Yelling and Fighting. -Rob

Jay
Guest

Hi Rob,

I always liked the super hero type shows like Darna and Captain Barbell. You can figure out what is going on without understanding the dialog. Another fine article!

Peace

Jay

Rob Ashley
Guest
Rob Ashley

Jay: Thank you for the compliment. I always laughed at Rico Suave. he wasn’t a Superhero…I’m not sure what he was. I just looked up Captain Barbell and found this site, 10 Filipino Superheroes You Might Not Know. https://www.filipiknow.net/top-10-pinoy-superheroes/

-Rob

Jay
Guest

Hi Rob,

I used to love the old campy Batman starring Adam West. The Filipino super heroes shows remind me of this only better. Google Darna vs. Black Darna and watch the clip. That’s entertainment!

Peace

Jay

SIGN UP TO JOIN OUR GIVEAWAYS & INFO NEWSLETTER

Make sure you've signed up to our newsletter to get exclusive newsletter only content! Also be updated about all our important events and other important info that our readers rely on.

SIGNUP FORM


Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.