With just a little more than two weeks to go before his upcoming mega fight against the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr., Filipinos will get the chance to know the struggles Manny Pacquiao had to endure early in his life through the movie “Kid Kulafu.”
Speaking to selected bloggers and members of the entertainment press, director Paul Soriano explained that “Kid Kulafu” is different from past films and documentaries about Pacquiao because it focuses on the first fifteen years of the eight-division world champion’s life.
Kid Kulafu‘s lead stars are Buboy Villar as Manny Pacquiao, Alessandra de Rossi as his mother Dionisia, Alex Medina as his father Rosalio, Cesar Montano as Uncle Sardo, Khalil Ramos as his friend and fellow boxer Eugene Barutag.
The movie covers four important phases in Pacquiao’s life: his boyhood in Bukidnon, his family’s decision to move to General Santos, his sojourn in Digos City, and his arrival to Manila. Interwoven to this is the story of Pacquiao’s family, particularly his mother Dionisia’s dysfunctional marriage to her husband Rosalio as well as the role of his uncle in discovering his talent in boxing.
The moniker “Kid Kulafu” was derived from “Vino Kulafu,” a liquor brand popular in Visayas and Mindanao. As a kid, collecting empty bottles of this liquor is one of the things Pacquiao did as an assistant in his uncle’s store.
As mentioned above, Pacquiao has been written about so many times ever since he entered the national consciousness 15 years ago. Nonetheless, this movie succeeds in telling so many facets of Pacquiao’s early life that undoubtedly shaped what he is now:
1) Pacquiao spent his childhood in a war zone where military men and their allies fight communist insurgents. One particularly vivid scene shows a young Pacquiao getting trapped in a bloody encounter between the two warring forces.
2) Although she is now better known for her funny antics on television, “Mommy D” deserves all the credit for being able to raise for four children on her own.
3) His womanizing father spent so much of his time in vices like cockfighting and drinking liquor.
4) His maternal uncle, a fanatic of legendary actor and martial artist Bruce Lee, discovered and nurtured Pacquiao’s interest in boxing.
5) Despite earning victories in short bouts in General Santos, he still failed to land a spot in the city’s official lineup of boxers for a regional tournament. He instead moved to nearby Digos City in Davao del Sur to try his luck.
6) Two tragic events pushed Pacquiao to the limit during his early days as an amateur boxer in Manila. First is his knockout loss to Rustico Torrecampo and the sudden death of his close friend Eugene Barutag after a fight. This serves as the emotional climax of the movie.
The movie’s strongest point is its high level of verisimilitude. This can be seen in many ways: from Villar’s uncanny resemblance to the young Pacquiao, to De Rossi’s effective imitation of Dionisia’s accent, to the setting used for the movie. Let’s not forget the aforementioned very-realistic military operation scene (perhaps the reason why the movie was rated as “Parental Guidance”).
To make the boxing scenes realistic, Villar, Ramos, and other members of the cast underwent a crash course in boxing. They were also required to work out to develop their body built. The movie also features actual audio clips from “Blow by Blow,” a weekly boxing program during the 1990s with sports analysts Quinito Henson and Ronnie Nathanielsz as regular commendators.
Co-produced by Star Cinema and Ten17 Productions, “Kid Kulafu” began its run in cinemas nationwide yesterday, April 15.