Thursday, January 8, 2015

English Only, Please

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I was eight and it was my mom's annual company outing. The resort we were at was playing Roselle Nava's "Bakit Nga Ba" loudly and on repeat. Half-submerged in the shallow end of the adult swimming pool, despite not being able to relate to the song ("walang hugot," in Filipino slang), I had the chorus memorized. "Bakit nga ba mahal kita kahit 'di pinapansin ang damdamin ko? 'Di mo man ako mahal, heto pa rin ako, nagmamahal nang tapat sa'yo," the lyrics went. They were that simple.

Almost two decades later, "Bakit Nga Ba" makes a comeback in the Filipino romantic comedy English Only, Please as the song Jennylyn Mercado's character sings on karaoke in front of Derek Ramsay. In her case—and she actually sings this for the both of them—there is definitely some hugot.

English Only, Please tells the story of English tutor Tere Madlangsacay (Mercado) who gets hired by New York-based Fil-Am Julian Parker (Ramsay) to translate a speech he has prepared. Tere is still hopelessly and foolishly in love with her cheating ex-boyfriend (Kean Cipriano) while Julian is angry and still hasn't come to terms with being dumped by his ex-girlfriend (Isabel Oli). Julian flies to the Philippines so Tere can teach him the translation of his speech, enabling him to recite it to his ex and maybe get her back, but he never gets to, or at least not as he had originally intended, because during the course of his and Tere's tutorial sessions, the two lovelorn "foolish hearts" fall in love with each other.

English Only, Please works as a romantic comedy because it is simple and has the right amounts of funny and romantic. Nothing is overdone. Not the story or the length of the movie. Not the urban dictionary word slides that serve as transition between scenes. Not Kean Cipriano's character's doucheyness. Not the way Derek Ramsay pronounces with an American accent the Filipino words his character is trying to learn. Not Jennylyn Mercado's make-up and costume (she really does look like a regular ManileƱa), and especially not her acting (I don't think Mercado has shined in any role the way she definitely has in this movie). Even the product placement of Dunkin Donuts, endorsed by Ramsay, isn't overly awkward. No wonder the rom-com won Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Director among many other accolades at the 40th Metro Manila Film Festival (shame it only won second place for Best Picture).

I normally stay away from romance films, even romantic comedies, but this one I knew I had to watch at the cinema with my friends from work. I was glad I could say "it was so funny I cried" at the end of the movie, although I didn't really get to make that excuse because everyone in our group, cynics and idealists alike, had tears in their eyes. It was the light and sweet ending we needed after a stressful day at the office.

I'd actually like to see English Only, Please again. And that's saying something for an MMFF movie.

Kitakits, beh.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

To Tess, with love

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Several months ago, a woman named Maritess Morillo came into my friend Cams' employ as cook and assistant. But Tess, as she likes to be called (though that has not stopped us from playfully calling her by many other nicknames), was more than just a kitchen goddess who very ably tended to Cams' needs, culinary or otherwise, as she recuperated from her injuries. She has become a dear friend to Cams, me and everyone around her in Manila.

Being a full-blooded BatangueƱa, she has also taught us many words, most of which I was able to note down on my phone for future reference:

  1. Ukit - likot ("Ang ukit-ukit naman ni Johann eh!")
  2. Utay-utayin - unti-untiin
  3. Barik - lasing, nakainom ("Para kang barik!")
  4. Utas - patay ("Utas kakatawa eh!")
  5. Hasing-hasi - gustong-gusto
  6. Usbaw - baliw
  7. Guyam - langgam
  8. Malubay - malambot
  9. Hunta - usap ("Hindi ka naman kasali sa huntahan!")
  10. Pulong - usap
  11. Baktot - piggyback, buhat
  12. Latiti - landi ("Nakikipaglatiti ka na naman!")
  13. Umis - ngiti ("Ang ganda ng umis eh! Sino kaya ang ka-text?")
  14. Babag - away, suntukan
  15. Galpong - ground coffee, latak na kape
  16. Ir-ir - grate
  17. Bangi - grill
  18. Sakol - magkamay (use hands when eating)

That list doesn't cover everything, nor does it capture how entertaining Tess is when she says those words. Tess, we might poke fun at you for sounding so angry most of the time (because of your accent), being somewhat gullible and having enormous you-know-whats, but you're one of the sweetest, most talented girls we've met and you know we love you as family. We will miss you and your deviled eggs, cordon bleu, leche flan and other unbelievably delicious recipes. See you in Singapore next year...and promise to let us dine for free when you finally have your very own restaurant!

Still keeping the promise that I won't post your unflattering candid shots, Tess. But always remember that I have them. For possible use in the future. Haha.
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