Philippine cinema’s best scenes of 2019, part 3

This is the third part of our best scenes of 2019 feature. You may read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Self-love (Metamorphosis)

Emil Hofileña, reviewer: “Ït remains a complete mystery how the MTRCB viewed Metamorphosis and saw the opposite of sensitivity and empathy toward our intersex brothers and sisters. Though the film’s protagonist, Adam (Gold Azeron), may be just a teenage boy, he and his body are treated with utmost respect by the camera. And when he begins touching himself, having overcome the fear of his own otherness, it looks almost like an ethereal dance–Adam intoxicated by the sense of freedom and discovery. None of it is perverse. Metamorphosis proves that Filipino LGBTQIA+ cinema need not rely on misery and sadness. Self-acceptance is often more beautiful.

J.E. Tiglao, writer/director:Metamorphosis is the first Filipino film to represent an intersex as the main protagonist of the film. There is one scene that got us almost banned from showing it publicly. MTRCB initially rated our film X-Rated before changing it to R-16 after some protest through social media. All this is because of a masturbation scene where Adam, the intersex protagonist, was shown playing with him/herself.

Prior to the scene, Adam was a normal high schooler whose initiation to puberty started when two persons came to his life. First is Angel, Adam’s figure of femininity. Second is Doc Abraham, Adam’s first sexual attraction to a man. When Adam already experienced both sides of his/her sexuality, there came the masturbation scene, where he/she was shown playing both of his/her two genitals. The scene portrays the culmination of his/her sexual exploration, a picture of someone finally embracing his/her humanity that’s not bounded by the label of dualism, that he/she is not fully-male nor fully-female. Adam is an intersex. And there’s nothing wrong with it.

As the writer/director of the film, I was so fortunate to have Gold Azeron to play the role of Adam. He lost 15 kilos for the role. He had undergone four whole-day workshops. I also made him watch several films and documentaries for reference. And when we did the masturbation scene, with no hesitation, he played it so well and was always asking if he did good and if there was something to improve on. Gold is a brave, persistent actor. He owned the role of Adam.

We shot the scene twice in two different shooting days. The first one, I shot it with a static full long shot and when I watched it on post, I found it dull and less-human. So on our reshoot a month after, I shot the scene again, now with more close-ups and hand-held shots to make it more intimate and to feel every inhale of Adam’s anxiety and excitement during the scene. My DOP, Tey Clamor, also shot it beautifully and the ethereal scoring was made by Divino Dayacap.

It’s one of my favorite scenes of the film.”

The orgy (Jino to Mari)

Noy Lauzon, film programmer: Jino to Mari’s climactic scene draws its power not from the graphic sex it conveys but the geopolitics that it invokes. The whole story of Jino and Mari is a replication of the many invasions the country must endure in the hands of a mightier foreign power with its hapless citizens left at the mercy of the invader for survival and sustenance economy.”

Jay Altarejos, writer/director: “The orgy scene was not only difficult to shoot. That scene lingered on my mind for a long time. I was so affected that I had to talk to my psychiatrist for debriefing. It made question my core values. Di namin magagawa yun kung hindi sina Angela at Oliver ang artista namin.”

Angela Cortez, actor: “Siyempre Oliver and I, alam na namin kung ano yung scene na kukunan. Akala namin ready na kami with what we were about to go through. Haha! Pero when we got on the set, nung nakita namin yung apat na boys na hubo’t hubad, nagtinginan kami. Napa ‘tangina’ na lang kami. Hahaha! Napakahirap gawin nang scene na ‘yon kasi sa totoo lang marami akong insecurities sa katawan. Hindi ko ma-describe yung feeling na totally naked ka tapos you have to pretend na okay lang na pinapanood ka ng maraming tao. Yung apat na guys they had to touch us pa (among other things). Malaki lang siguro talaga ang tiwala ko kay Direk Jay kaya nagawa ko without second thoughts.”

Oliver Aquino, actor: “Pinakamahirap kong ginawa sa buong pag-aartista ko. Pero tinanggap ko kasi ang role kaya ginawa ko ang kailangan. I reached a point that I didn’t care anymore that I was naked in front of everyone during the shoot. Di ko na siguro uulitin ang ganung eksena.”

The ending (Edward)

Jonathan Ang, reviewer: “Yung last scene ng Edward ang pinakakurot-puso na eksena ng isa sa pinakamahusay na pelikula ng 2019. Yun ang tipo ng crying scene na ‘pag pinanood mo in isolation ay parang bale-wala o ‘keri’ lang, pero kung pinanood mo ang kabuuan ng pelikula ay talaga namang hebigat — at walang ka-‘OA’-yan!”

Engelbert Raffert Dulay, reviewer: “For a limited amount of time, Edward has seen it all: the faces of poverty, the burdens of our public healthcare system, the idea of first love, the powerlessness of youth and, most of all, the cruelties of life. He didn’t have to go through it all; after all, at the start he was once like every single young blood out there right now: so full of idealism and ignorance in whatever’s happening. But Fate knows when to teach us what reality means. Edward learned his lesson the hardest way possible, most of which he did not deserve. In the process of learning, his innocence—like his idealism and ignorance—has been torn away from him in a crescendo of events that even he did not expect to happen. Life just works that way. That’s where the emotions, intensely
seething through his vessel, have started piling up. In the waiting area of the hospital, he lies on the carton-laden floor, along with dozens of other family members who are lying along with him, and there he starts hugging his bag and lets the tears in his eyes overwhelm him. For a limited amount of time, Edward has seen it all. And what he’s seen is a little too much.”

Thop Nazareno, writer/director: “This scene wasn’t originally the last scene I had in mind for the film. May isa pang eksena that I shot on a long take of Edward with his father exiting the hospital thru the same hallways he used to treat as his playground. But during editing, my creative producer, Bb. Joyce Bernal, and I realized na hindi na kailangan iyon. Kahit napakamahal at mahirap i-direk ang eksenang iyon, I decided to let go of it and go for a more powerful ending.

This scene of Edward lying down helplessly weeping for the unfortunate fate of his father was meant to emphasize his loss of innocence, realizing the real meaning and value of life. Katulad ng dati kong istilo ng pagkukwento kung saan naniniwala ako na less is more, I wanted this scene to be quiet. No dialogues, hindi engrande at straight to the point. Walang ibang maririnig kung hindi ang mahinang paghikbi ni Edward. I aimed for realism dahil gusto kong maramdaman ang estado ng ating public healthcare system. Gusto kong tapusin ang pelikula na mas nararamdaman ng audience ang pinagdadaanan ni Edward kaysa maintindihan ito.”

Part 1: Ulan; Sila-Sila; John Denver Trending

Part 2: Quezon’s Game; Kalel, 15; Fuccbois

Part 4: John Denver Trending, LSS, Isa Pa with Feelings

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