Monday, September 7, 2009


There is a photo being circulated online, of John Lloyd and Luis Manzano, in a very intimate pose. Aere is a ph

lot of people wish that it was a stolen shot and not an outtake of a movie scene. But no, like most daydreams, the photo was not from real-life scene. It was a scene rehearsal for the movie In My Life. The movie stars John Lloyd and Luis Manzano as lovers with no less than, Ms. Vilma Santos as the mother who has to deal with their relationship.
First, we must congratulate Star Cinema for courageously producing this gender-sensitive movie which used to be the staple of the more“sexually exploitative” indie films with the likes Briliante Mendoza (Masahista) and Jay Altajeros (Ang Lalaki sa Parola).

What sets "In My Life"apart from indie films is that it doesn’t exploit sex to make it marketable.

In My Life doesn’t position itself as sex movie where nudity is the drawing factor. It builds on a universal story of a mother and her love for her son; and the star power of its main casts. After all, this is the Star for All Seasons taking a leave of absence from her gubernatorial duties to shoot this film. Olivia Lamazan is one of the few brilliant directors who finds nuances in her material and investigates each character carefully.

It is also quite brave of John Lloyd and Luis to accept these gay roles. While not quite pioneering because straight actors have played gay roles in Philippine cinema for the past few years, it is a badge of courage for any actor. A lot of celebrities look at the effect of Brokeback Mountain on its actors and find inspiration there.

Having said that, I have two issues in my mind:

1. Will the Catholic Church tolerate it?
Star Cinema obviously avoids the gay theme in its promotion and asserts that it is a family movie. Why? On one hand, the story seems to center on the mother and her son relationship. On the other hand, it is also possible that the ABS-CBN production outfit doesn’t want to trigger the sensibilities of the conservative crowd, especially CBCP who has a history of denouncing anything it sees contrary to church morals including the ban of Da Vinci Code and the Harry Potter Series (witchcraft is against the doctrine).

In My Life has the potential of being a groundbreaking movie as it pushes gay relationship into the center without making a caricature out of it. It was a marginal issue for a long time, kept in the closet of our national consciousness and explored only in independently produced movies. With this film, it becomes easier for gay men and women to come out to their families, (hey Mom, remember that movie In My Life?)

2. How will this affect the images of both John Lloyd and Luis Manzano
I think it was Sam Milby or Piolo Pascual who said that in the Philippines, you cannot be a popular actor without your sexuality being questioned. Raymond Guttierez avoids this inquiry like the H1N1 plague! Every hunk is subjected to the “is or is he not” litmus test. Every once in a while, the public is proven correct (paging BB Gandanghari). But know things are changing... We see John Lloyd regularly doing his “cheesy” and near "gay-roles" with his famous pizza commercials.
Playing a gay character is not so much a test of one’s sexuality but of one’s acting competence. John Lloyd and Luis Manzano has proven this without a shadow of a doubt; assuming a character beyond their personal experience and improving their capacity to internalize and express an “outlandish” identity with ease and comfort.

Luis Manzano said it well, "Nung ginawa namin yung eksena, of course, nagkanya-kanya kaming kanto, nagmuni-muni muna, siyempre. Kasi for me, initially, it was one of the factors kaya ako nagulat and I initially declined the role. But after reading the script, you have to step out of your comfort zone. And I completely trust Direk Olive. Pag dumating na yung actual scene na yun sa movie, you don't necessarily see John Lloyd Cruz and Luis Manzano kissing, but you'll see Noel and Mark sharing a very, very intimate moment, which is a beautiful part of the story. We made sure na everything is perfect, hinintay talaga namin yung araw. We want to believe na madadala kayo dun sa eksena at sa mga karakter, hindi dahil sa dalawang lalaking artista na naghalikan sa harap n'yo."

In My Life has the makings of a great movie – one which doesn’t come to town as often as we want. I wish people will see it as it is – a film that explores the intricacies of modern-day relationships and finds its center in universal values of love and acceptance.

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