I agree with some of what Lourd de Vera says (or asks) Vic Sotto in his open letter. I agree that Bossing Vic should aim to do better than a movie filled with product placements. I agree that he should do better than a film where he’s not stuck with a non-kiddie-actor Yap and his mother Kris Aquino.
I disagree that this was all Bossing’s doing. This was obviously a Kris Aquino movie, and you would know that if you’ve seen Kris’s films: they are atrocious. We’re not even talking about the acting. Last year’s Sisterakas was a shameful waste of AiAi De Las Alas’s and Vice Ganda’s talents, because Kris thought all she needed were over-the-top costumes and make-up and that would be equal to acting.
No wait, all she wants is to earn money. She wants an MMFF movie that does exactly that? She only needs to put her name on it. If you ask me, it is Kris who is the culprit here, and her body of work shows it, too.
Now, of course, Vic had a choice, he always does. But, too, it is clear to me that within the limits of and expectations for the Metro Manila Filmfest, this is exactly the kind of films that is easily produced, and will easily make money. This is at the heart of the decision to team up with MMFF top-grosser Bong Revilla in Si Agimat at si Enteng Kabisote (2010), and AiAi De Las Alas in Eteng Ng Ina Mo (2011), where combining forces to do one film (instead of two different ones), has proven fruitful for Vic and the Enteng Kabisote franchise, too!
In this sense it was no surprise that a Kris Aquino-Vic Sotto film would be made; it was just a matter of time, given Kris’s box-office success in the MMFF since 2010. That it has given birth to My Little Bossings, which to Lourd seemed like a puwede na yan (PNY) film (and I trust Lourd’s assessment of it really) is the saddest thing. It is no surprise though: Kris Aquino’s in the middle of it.
But Lourd’s got his eye on Vic, asking why the latter even made a film such as this one. Lourd is exasperated because he is a fan, as I am, of the Tito Vic and Joey triumvirate. He asks of Vic, given his stature and power at this point: must he limit himself to these run-of-the-mill comedies?
The truth is, and this is where I disagree with Lourd, he hasn’t. Enteng Kabisote was never run-of-the-mill.
I understand how the peg has been Dolphy’s Ang Tatay Kong Nanay (1978), but the kinder way, if not the more academic way, of looking at Vic’s filmography relative to Dolphy’s is by putting it in context.
That is, Vic kicked off Enteng in Okay Ka Fairy Ko for TV (written by Bibeth Orteza, directed by Bert de Leon) – this is at the heart of my disagreement with Lourd. That sitcom was not run-of-the-mill comedy, not for its time, and not given the way it resonates still for the present. And yes, I’m also talking about Enteng Kabisote as the character that has spawned a franchise.
It is fascinating really, how this following for Enteng has run for more than two decades. That has to be a measure of how he remains believable for a mass audience as a real person. It would be unfair to say that it’s because he is shallow and superficial.
Enteng Kabisote in film is the Enteng Kabisote on television. He was Okay Ka Fairy Ko.
And that sitcom was pretty fantastic for those post-EDSA times, when what we had were Palibhasa Lalake and Chicks to Chicks. The Kabisotes would continue to survive the satiric sitcom that was Abangan ang Susunod na Kabanata, as well as the beginnings of Dolphy’s Home Along Da Riles. It survived despite its fantasy, where the foil to reality was a lead character in the fairy wife Faye (Alice Dixon and later on Tweety de Leon) and the whole kingdom of Engkantadia. It was brilliant.
Enteng was the every lower-middle-class man, who had a small repair shop on the first floor of his home, who dealt with the travails of being a service worker, even as he might be called “business owner.” The struggle would also be in relation to mother-in-law Ina Magenta (Charito Solis), who might be the most iconic biyenan in recent local pop culture, fantastic costumes and raised eyebrows included.
Now it might be easy to dismiss Enteng and Okay Ka, given its fantasy. But in fact throughout that series it remained a story that was interesting because it was consistent and successful in drawing parallels between the real world and the fairy world. There was no easy escape for Enteng here – not even when he had Prinsepe K(ahilingan) (Bayani Casimiro Jr.) to fulfill his wishes. This made for a complete character who was a decent human being, with a realistic moral compass, and an even more real notion of family and community.
That I’ve written all this from memory is a measure of how Okay Ka as fictional world was so well-conceptualized and consistent in its telling. Enteng was real. And if the franchise of films is any measure of its success, then Enteng continues to be real. Because people continue to watch his story happen, fantasy and all.
Now I’m not saying that Vic’s Enteng Kabisote is equal to Dolphy’s Dioscoro Derecho. I am saying that it’s unfair to imagine the latter to simply be better than the former. I am saying that if in the end history will judge Vic Sotto’s body of work, and Enteng Kabisote will not matter, then that is not so much the problem of Vic. It will be the problem of those who look upon local mainstream popular cinema and think: nah, nothing there is worth it.
Enteng Kabisote is a fascinating popular cultural icon, much like Vic himself, and those films are worthy of study. Not only might this be one of those rare characters that has been able to move from TV to film, it’s also very clear that it is tied to both nostalgia and familiarity. That is, we watched Okay Ka Fairy Ko. We’ve watched this story grow. And in truth, Enteng as a character has remained our every man.
That he is also Vic Sotto, Bossing on nationwide noontime television, is really about this icon of a man of whom Lourd is asking for better. He has done better than My Little Bossings though. Sadly, no one has cared enough to acknowledge Enteng Kabisote.
One hopes of course that Vic can outdo himself. No, not outdo My Little Bossings – after Kris Aquino there’s nowhere to go but up. I mean outdo the Enteng Kabisote franchise, and reveal how his icon is not just about being Bossing on Eat Bulaga or about ascertaining box-office success by doing tried and tested characters. Vic can outdo himself and level-up the making of the comedy film. He can prove that primed and tested, the mass audience can enjoy better, more intelligent, comedy. He can show us all that he’s got more up his sleeve, especially now that he’s done with Kris Aquino.
I sure hope Vic’s thinking about this year’s MMFF. And getting writers to help him outdo himself.
*This was published in radikalchick column for The Manila Times, January 12 2014.