JoshuaGomez (mynotsogaylife) wrote,

Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros

Have I told you that I am happy with what is happening now with the independent-digital movement in the Philippine Film Making Industry? Digital filmmakers, with its little budget, did not invest their meager budget on talent fees of big stars (who were not really good actors!) just to insure a good box office result, instead they focused more on the story and placed actors whose first love is acting rather than the glitters of showbusiness (you know what i mean).

So with the advent of indpendent-digital movies these days, good films have emerged, new names in filmaking came into view. They were so good that they did not only earn awards locally but also abroad. There was "Masahista", "Tuli", "Ilusyon" and "Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros".

I am most excited to watch Pagdadalaga, unfortunately it was only played in selected theaters (CCP and UP Film Center) a few months ago before the film was sent to Montreal Film Festival.

The producers, however, decided that this great film deserves a regular theater run and so it will finally be shown on regular theaters this November 30 (Dyames we haven't set a date yet when we will watch this film). Finally i can catch this.

Here's an article by Rina Jimenez-David to tickle your interest on the film.
At Large : Maxi's story
Nov 19, 2005
Updated 02:34am (Mla time)
Rina Jimenez-David
Inquirer News Service

COMING-OF-AGE is a staple theme in storY-telling. Indeed, some of the best short stories, novels and films have revolved around a young person's transition from childhood, the moment the scales of naiveté and innocence fall from a young person's eyes and he or she discovers life and reality in all its complexity, pain and beauty.

"Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros" joins this long list of coming-of-age tales, but for "Maxi" it is a coming-of-age not just in terms of his emotional maturity and budding sexuality but also in relation to his family and to the reality of their situation.

Maxi is a 12-year-old gay boy raised lovingly, if brusquely, by his family of petty crooks. Ever since his mother died, Maxi has taken over the "mommy" role in the family, cooking for his father and two brothers, laundering, darning, cleaning up and even looking after the children of neighbors.

Though teased relentlessly by his family and neighborhood thugs ("Here, this is your tip, use it to buy your sanitary napkins," his father joshes at one point), Maxi enjoys an amazing amount of acceptance and fondness, his swishy ways, love for flower-printed outfits and colorful hair accessories notwithstanding. He spends his days, aside from looking after his family, earning tips from his customers in a numbers racket, watching DVDs of local films and taking part in mock beauty contests with his other gay "boylet" friends.

Into this quiet, idyllic existence steps Victor, a good-looking, clean-cut policeman who comes to Maxi's rescue when he's set upon by drunken "istambays." Suddenly, Maxi's world finds a new focus, and through dint of devotion and persistence, the boy succeeds in making friends with the macho cop. But even innocent romance must find its foe and in "Ang Pagdadalaga" the main obstacle to Maxi's love proves to be his family.

* * *

WHO will Maxi choose? Is it at all possible to continue being a friend to Victor while remaining loyal to his father and brothers?

This becomes Maxi's central dilemma, and as the story unfolds, it becomes distressingly clear that one choice necessarily demands abandonment of the other. How Maxi resolves this thorny situation, and finds the means to move on from tragedy, brings the movie to a most satisfactory conclusion.

"Ang Pagdadalaga" is set in familiar territory -- an urban poor enclave of rundown structures, narrow alleys, creeks choked with waste -- that was the natural milieu of social realists like Lino Brocka and his disciples. But while the Brocka school of gritty realism mined such a setting for socio-political conflicts, "Ang Pagdadalaga" uses it as a backdrop for a story that is as sweet and simple as Maxi himself.

This is a statement in itself, for what I glean from Michiko Yamamoto's script and Aureaeus Solito's direction is an assertion that even in the most sordid and seamy of neighborhoods, innocence can thrive, love of all kinds can flourish, and wisdom can emerge. Amid the corruption and criminality that surrounds him, Maxi proves that one boy can prove the skeptics wrong, and that happy endings are possible in even the most distressing of circumstances.

* * *

I MUST say that "Ang Pagdadalaga" deserves all the accolades it has reaped, including Jury Prize for Best Picture in the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, Best Picture in the Montreal World Film Festival, and Best Picture in the ImagineNative Film Festival in Toronto.

Nathan Lopez's win as Best Actor in Cinemalaya is also well deserved, for he gives Maxi a touching vulnerability without turning him into a swishy stereotype. The gays at the preview I attended were, of course, the most volubly appreciative of his portrayal, with many later exclaiming that they envied Maxi his loving upbringing, apparently a luxury rarely enjoyed by gay men growing up.

But the movie was also well served by the rest of the small cast. Soliman Cruz as Maxi's father, a small-time crook who's a kingpin in his little corner of the world, is a revelation. He shows touches of vulnerability as he cuddles his gay son, and pained dignity as he explains to his son, who cries that all he wants is a peaceful life, why he chose to be a snatcher, determined that he would never again be put in a situation where he could do nothing to save the life of a family member.

Ping Medina and Neil Ryan Sese as Maxi's older brothers are also quite effective. I was most touched by the scene in which Maxi confesses his spurned love for Victor to his hoodlum brother, who provides both gentle comfort and gruff advice.

JR Valentin as Victor, the honest cop who in the end cannot resist the blandishments of power, provides a refreshing counterpoint to all the toughies in Maxi's life. I found him a bit too wooden for comfort, although his stoicism provides contrast to Maxi's adoration.

* * *

"ANG Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros" was recently granted an "A" rating from the Cinema Evaluation Board, joining two other independent digital movies "Ilusyon" and "Big Time" (way to go Kyen!) as among the best films produced in this country this year.

I'm told that ufo Pictures, the outfit of independent filmmakers behind "Ang Pagdadalaga," spent so much on converting from digital to film format that they will need to make a bundle at the box-office to recoup their investment. The tax rebates care of the "A" rating help, but what they really need is moviegoers' patronage.

Do watch "Ang Pagdadalaga," not only to remember your own coming-of-age, but also to herald the coming-of-age of young, independent, free-thinking filmmakers who are the hope of Philippine cinema. It opens in theaters Nov. 30.
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