Sunday ∗ 18 Nov 2007

why say sorry?

or the dynamic of women’s choices.

the romance as a genre in philippine movies has, since the turn of the millennium, been common and surprising in turn. the surprises i personally trace back to regine velasquez’s foray into her julia-roberts-type of romantic films, where situations are perfectly created for both her limited acting skills, and for the middle class women that she portrays (and has as audience). although it can be said that much much earlier than that, judy ann santos and piolo pascual, as well that ricoyan-claudinebarretto-dietherocampo movie were the beginnings of more interesting takes on the romance (hello, boksingero si judy ann? naman).

but much of it of course, is common. the bestfriend as foil, the mother as foil, the useless if not absent father. and then there’s the penchant for happy endings, where as always, gods in baskets in every form imaginable WILL appear, and voila! the lovers live happily ever after.

it was undoubtedly in this context that i watched “one more chance” with john lloyd cruz (ampogi!) and bea alonzo. and while it was funny and witty, well-directed and absolutely fun to watch, it wasn’t even that forced happy ending that left a bad taste in the mouth. it was the fact that this was being celebrated as a contemporary romance, where both man and woman are given choices, and are allowed to grow beyond their relationships. BUT, but, but.

why must the woman end up apologizing for her decision to be freed from an oppressive relationship? when Basha (Bea’s character) realizes much much later how much she had hurt Popoy (John Lloyd’s charater) when she broke up with him, she doesn’t only break down in tears so many times (!!!), she actually says sorry for having made the decision to liberate herself. as this break-up happens early in the movie, Basha’s character in fact uses up half of the movie to recover — not from having been freed from Popoy’s controlling love — but from her own regret. she wonders constantly: did she do the right thing?

and in fact, given the movie, she apparently didn’t. while there’s one voice (the foil that was the “new” bestfriend in Derek Ramsey) that said one must never regret wanting to improve oneself, there was the rest of the movie that said, well, actually, you’ll suffer for those decisions. case in point: in the final dramatic scene, Popoy says goodbye to Basha and says that while he loves her and would like to get back together, he can’t love her and forget the hurt that she had cost him.

equation: broken-hearted man is more than oppressed woman.

question: you impinged on my right to a life and i say sorry for breaking your heart?

how is this even acceptable? in “one more chance”, the woman isn’t only shown as someone who can suffer through an oppressive relationship, she also suffers through the fact that she wanted her own identity beyond that relationship. while the image of the powerful woman — good career, nice office, fashion sense — was all-encompassing, all it is is a teeny bit of what that woman should’ve been ultimately about: the choice(s) that she made.

there were so many ways to allow the woman more power, more self-esteem. so many ways in which Basha’s character could have become a truly empowered woman in the face of what is the patriarchal ideology of heterosexual romance. crying every other scene in front of the man who forced her to repress her desires, and then sleeping with him in the midst of those tears, is not one of those options.

no woman should say sorry for having wanted to be liberated from an oppressive/repressive relationship. no woman must be made to apologize for wanting a distinct identity from any person in her life. no woman should be made to regret a decision that allowed her to be liberated from the chains of our romantic notions of love.

it’s bad enough that so many more women in the real world are made to do all these as it is. why can’t movies be otherwise.

Posted in: kultura, pelikula, review

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