Repeating Mano Po

I can’t remember what year it was when I swore that I will never watch any of the Mano Po movies ever again. In any case, I had to eat my words when I forked over my money to see Mano Po 6: A Mother’s Love.

To watch a Filipino film part of the Metro Manila Film Festival requires the moviegoer to drop logic and reason, lower his standards and shut down his IQ. This saves him from mental anguish at the course of watching the movie, and from regret, thereafter.

Even without fully meeting these preconditions, I am happy to report that Mano Po 6 is perhaps the best MMFF film I’ve ever seen (which isn’t a lot :-P).

I stopped counting the times I chortled every time Sharon went onscreen, and had to depend on my imagination to gloss over Sharon Cuneta THE celebrity to believe her as the rags-to-riches story that is Melinda Uy, and who is desperate to reclaim the love of her daughter. (Brought this up with Mon: none of our most-celebrated actresses ever got lost in a role. Sharon, Vilma and Nora merely play dress up and never relish their characters with gusto. Then again, my barometer is Meryl Streep.)

Once I have gotten past that, the film went on smoothly: plot was predictable, yes, but it was solid. I thought it would suffer the same fate as most studio-produced films, wherein the scriptwriters get lazy and find the easy way out toward the end of the plot by having the most unimaginative twists — and MP 6 did skim over this local conundrum — but it was forgivable.

It is hard to guess if, through the Mano Po series, producer Mother Lily is attempting to elevate Pinoy-Chinese culture: there is the unnecessary switching between Chinese and Tagalog among the characters, and consequently, this results to their outrageous accents; and there is also Zsa Zsa Padilla’s garish, and I guess, unintended sketch of a Chinese businesswoman: Pokwang could have delivered the same acting to better audience response. Essentially, these turn out to be a joke and unfortunately, are Mano Po’s definitive elements (by its own choosing) so as to claim itself to be Filipino-Chinese.

As for entertainment value, there are a couple of memorable lines, Dennis Trillo is cute (and he displays his nipples), Heart Evangelista is gorgeous and Zsa Zsa attempts to be Pokwang. There is also the fashion. As one Greenbelt patron exasperatedly told her friend on the way out of the screening, “There will be an overrun of fake Chanel in Greenhills, for sure.”

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