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Lifestyle

Laugh and learn with Zombadings


August 31 is Z-Day - Zomba Day - when Origin8 Media's Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington opens in theaters nationwide. Cinemalaya screenings at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and at the University of the Philippines in the last two months were packed, and there's been a lot of buzz about this star-studded movie. Almost everyone had been recommending it, so when I learned the premiere was to be presented by Keratin Complex, I just had to see if the zombies in Zombadings had silky smooth hair.
Well, there were no hair-treatment model zombies in the movie, but there was an interesting mix of characters played by Eugene Domingo, Odette Khan, Janice de Belen, Lauren Young, Martin Escudero, Roderick Paulate, Marian Rivera, Kerbie Zamora and John Regala. There are familiar names as well as new ones, but the title alone is so catchy that you can't blame people for being curious. The poster is also a sight to behold - brilliantly grotesque, it promises plenty of campy fun. Zombadings also comes from producer Raymond Lee, writer Michiko Yamamoto, and director Jade Castro - who have given us lovely, endearing films like Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros and Endo. The story begins with Remington, a walking gaydar who can't seem to stop making fun of any bakla he comes across. The baklas he makes fun of usually leave him alone, but one day at the cemetery, he makes fun of a wealthy bakla, who curses him. "Paglaki mo, magiging bakla ka!" That being bakla is a curse isn't what the film is saying, and hopefully that's as clear as the non-stop laughter throughout the film. "Manood kayo, tatawa kayo nang tatawa!" is what a friend of mine posted online a day before Zombaday. His post was met with enthusiasm and agreement, and true enough, if laughter is the best medicine, Zombadings should be prescribed in hospitals. The movie is a buffet of jokes, some slapstick, some clever, and a lot of them funny in the way that only Pinoys understand. Fifteen years after Remington is cursed, he falls for a girl just days before he blossoms into a bakla. His transformation scenes are some of the funniest in the movie, especially when he wills himself to keep from speaking bekimon. In the end his inner becky wins, and the toilet becomes a toilaloo. For foreigners, subtitles are provided to facilitate understanding. On the other hand, anti-gay hate speech is drowned out in another scene, perhaps to show that this is not a film about hate. Whether or not the audience sees that is the question, because somewhere in the film, the mock-horror and comedy make room for science fiction, and it gets a bit confusing. Nothing very complicated (there's a gun that zaps baklas, never mind how, it just does), but when the scientist (yes, he is nerdy and skinny) tries to explain it, well, someone gets a nosebleed. What happens is the gun is stolen by a man who wants all baklas gone from his town in Quezon, where the beautiful Pahiyas festival takes place every year. The story develops during the festival, and amid all the merrymaking and rainbow-colored kiping, the murdered baklas rise from the dead and do what zombies do best. The comedy-mock-horror-sci-fi film is also a love story, where Remington is torn between the girl and his best friend, whom he develops feelings for as well. There's a particularly sweet scene where something almost-happens between the might-be couple, where kilig would be the perfect word if not for the unsurprisingly squeamish screaming audience. Apart from romantic love, there's Remington's family - his mother, a cop who asks him kindly if he is a bakla, and his father who ends up saving the day. Zombadings is actually quite lovely, despite the gruesome zombies. Nothing can hide the beauty of the town, the acting is topnotch, the film itself is well-made. Still, I can't help but wonder too much about things; for instance, how does the gaydar gun work? Zombadings may be camp, but it is made somewhat inconsistent by the strange science fiction angle. And although the reality of hate crimes and discrimination lies underneath, the movie is meant to be hilarious. We're supposed to be laughing. Then again, when the laughter fades, who knows what impression will remain? In the end, a young boy calls out, like Remington. "Bakla!" he says. The bakla turns and for a moment, it looks like another curse is about to be made. But then the boy says "Ganda!" And the bakla turns and sashays away, and all is well. End credits roll, and the audience is happy, their cheeks painful from laughing. If they stay long enough, they'll hear a voiceover narration of the history of the bakla in the Philippines, but not everyone sticks around that long. It's a bit like a festival: everything is bright and happy, and it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt. And then it's over and everyone goes home, and bits and pieces are left scattered everywhere. Or maybe I should just stop wondering and learn to laugh. - YA, GMA News
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