Rainy days with FPJ-A A +A
By Ram Mercado
Monday, September 16, 2013
CONTINUOUS soupy weather in recent weeks kept most of us indoors, with the TV as loyal company in a vicarious journey to fantasy land.
We chose to navigate a geographic nostalgia via FPJ films, wondering along the trip what and how it made the actor the King of Filipino Movies.
The choice of common and exotic settings of FPJ movies has enamored his fans to every film genre Da King portrays. Places and locations relate n déjà vu to the moviegoer who would feel he has seen or had been in such places at some time in his life.
The poor everywhere identify themselves with street life characters in a slum area or the countryside. They get emotionally drawn by the familiar sights of a desolate place as in “Pitong Gatang," a fabled abode of the troubled poor in Tondo. The familiar facade of poverty is framed by a busy alley that cuts through cardboard and tin houses, where dirty urchins, hawkers, and jobless men huddle over a game of chess at the corner store.
Whether it is in a small town in Bicol or at an Ilocano village, almost always it’s at the neighborhood sari-sari store or the ubiquitous carinderia that the action begins. It’s the street of the Filipino Everyman.
FPJ often plays the role of an uncommon man in very common situations where trouble makers in superior numbers need to be confronted at the sacrifice of self (“Puno Na Ang Salop”).
The theme of redressing injustice, tyranny, and greed recurs in the epics, tales, and legends starring FPJ. But he was most memorable when he fights against organized crime groups (“Ang Dalubhasa," “Batas ng Lansangan," “Magnum 357”).
In each role of FPJ the Filipino Everyman identifies with the hero’s underdog difficulties and his sense of outrage (“Hindi Pa Tapos ang Laban”).
FPJ’s pastoral settings take us to visual tour of scenic spots like the beautiful coastal areas of Ilocos Region (“Ang Alamat," “Ang Panday”) and the mountain villages of the Cordilleras (”Ang Probinsiyano," “Aguila”).
His natural awkwardness and naivete in the pursuit of -- or flight from -- love excites the youth’s own dilemma of romance (“Kahit Konting Pagtingin”).
He endears himself with the audience when he croons a love song off key, striking instant kinship among thousands of fans who cannot carry a tune.
FPJ strongly relates to the youth of his generation with his cowboy films. Every youth of his age is thrilled with western movies. The barrio boy fantasized over life in the range, with bar room brawls, and dreams of wild broncos and kiss-kiss bang-bang affairs.
Whether he is fighting a crime syndicate, is up against kidnap for ransom gangs, or is oppressed by his superiors in the police organization, FPJ shows a sense of conviction. He has that cool and steely determination and a plain concept of justice that is tested and resolved by a final and violent confrontation by sword or by gun (“Hindi Pa Tapos Ang Laban”). At the end revenge restores and redresses a travesty of personal honor and justice.
He has become a reel-real hero to his fans whose pastime and joy is reliving and recreating memories of the idyllic peasant life or uncomplicated city existence of a bygone era. FPJ succeeded in depicting countryside realism as seen or experienced by the masses.
The Filipino western starring FPJ may be a comic copy of the Hollywood genre but movie fans marveled and rejoiced at their hero’s dramatic portrayal of a protagonist in a make believe cowboy country.
FPJ’s early films (“Anak ni Palaris,” “Perlas Ng Silangan”) were period pictures rich in costume and history. In his romantic roles FPJ lacks the lover’s effrontery and flair. But he becomes more adorable by his abject lack -– than possession -- of the playboy’s essential skills.
FPJ won folk admiration by refusing to drink (whiskey) or kiss his lady love. By refraining from drinking and kissing, he strikes a wholesome screen persona to which his fans respond with esteem and affection for their hero.
He has played the gamut of roles depicting common life -- from taxi or jeepney driver, to security guard, policeman, salesman, farmer, blacksmith, barangay chairman, mechanic, fisherman, cowboy, heir, widower, hacienda worker, etc. In all, he upholds the dignity of labor, pride and self-respect.
From his films, we are transported to familiar scenes of our youth, among the loveliest of which is quiet existence in a patch of land you can call your own, in a nipa hut by the meadow between the blue mountains and the sea, or in a rented room or barong-barong on a bustling cobbled street where the race of men go by.
Definitely, his fans rejoice and follow him in quiet glee as he rides into the sunset.
It’s not how high you build your dreams that makes a difference, But how your faith can climb. It’s not how much you can accomplish, But how many lives you touch.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on September 16, 2013.