By Hananeel Bordey Special to The Market Monitor
The Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino ended two weeks ago, and among the 12 films shown at the festival, Victor Villanueva’s Patay na si Hesus was one of the most buzzed-about, thanks to its mixture of comedy and drama. First shown at the 2016 Quezon City International Film Festival, the movie garnered there the Audience Choice and Gender Sensitivity awards for its non-traditional take on its characters.
This Cebuano-language film is about a single mother, Iyay (Jaclyn Jose), who brings her three children and their dog Hudas from their home in Cebu City to Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental province to attend the wake of her long-estranged husband, Hesus.
On a deeper level, it’s about Iyay finding closure on her relationship with Hesus, and her fighting every circumstance just to become the understanding and loving mom—and a tough father—to her children.
As Iyay, Jose proved that she’s not only limited to kontrabida roles on television and displayed her talent for comedy.
Iyay’s children give different shades to the story. Her eldest, Hubert (Vincent Viado), who has Down’s syndrome, broke the steoreotype people like him used to be boxed in. The maturity he shows in the movie is consistent. He makes his mother realize that, despite his condition, he’s not a burden on the family. Ironically, it’s the family that has been a burden on him.
The middle child, Jude (Chai Fonacier), formerly known as Judith Marie, is a transgender man whose relationship hit the rocks midway through the film. This character has helped audiences open up more to accepting members of the LGBT community, and transgenders in particular.
The toughness Jude shows is balanced by the sweetness and silliness of the youngest child, Jay (Melde Montañez), who had not passed his board exams yet and whose naughtiness is a source of many of the film’s comedic moments.
The family’s road trip becomes more enjoyable when Hesus’s sister, a crazy nun named Sister Linda, joins them. As played by Mailes Kanapi, Sister Linda performs a lot of absurd scenes that you would never expect from a nun.
By breaking steoreotypes of the Filipino family and its members, Villanueva and screenwriter Fatrick Tabada made Patay na si Hesus a winning comedy. Populated by different characters positively representing once-marginalized sectors, the film fearlessly depics what our society is really composed of.
Patay na si Hesus is still showing in select cinemas in and outside Metro Manila.