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“Ligo Na U, Lapit Na Me” – a movie review

by Mark Pere Madrona

Despite the excessive narrations at certain points, I’ll give “Ligo na U, Lapit Na Me” 4 out of 5 stars – mainly because I see myself in Intoy, the movie’s lead character and storyteller. As you’ll realize after reading this, having “discovered” sex during our senior year in college is just one our similarities. Looking back now, it is funny to think that prior to last Saturday, I am not aware of this indie movie.

The film, based on a novel of the same title written by Eros Atalia, was one of the films shown during the Cinemalaya Festival a couple of months ago. The movie features newcomer Edgar Allan Guzman and Mercedes Cabral (from the movie Serbis). They play the role of Intoy (full name: Karl Vladimir Lennon J. Villalobos) and Jenny, a popular campus beauty, respectively.

Far from being a household name, people probably know Guzman more for being “Mr. Pogi” and as the other half of the male duo that revived Michael V.’s Mas Mahal na Kita Ngayon. Aside from showing off his body, he also showed his acting chops. He didn’t do a Christopher de Leon or a Cesar Montano, but he was recognized as the Best Actor for Cinemalaya 2011. The appeal of Guzman’s acting emanates not from his ability to cry, shout, and throw punches – but rather because his actions are just too natural.

Edgar Allan Guzman in the music video of "Mas Mahal Na Kita Ngayon" (with Andrew Miguel))

This is also why the movie is so catching particularly to the younger generation. The film is full of familiar scenes, pick-up lines, personalities, and human reaction to life events. The witty approach to erstwhile taboo subjects like premarital sex and friends with benefits, coupled with hilarious paper drawing chargens, are undoubtedly the movie’s greatest assets. Let us enumerate five other ways where the movie mirrors present realities among Filipino youth:

1.) Irony – At home, Intoy is rather timid, which is not surprising since his parents are both very religious. In fact, prayer meetings are held in their house. However, the moment he steps outside of that world, he transforms into a guy made vulnerable by his sexual urges (at least when he’s with Jenny).  Who wouldn’t be able to relate to this?

2) FWB setup – More and more people are finding out that one can enjoy the pleasures of sex without having to be in a committed relationship. In one of the scenes, Intoy’s school buddies were ribbing him about his supposed relationship with Jenny. The former took great pains to deny that they are an item. Picture this: you have a female friend with whom you spend a lot of time with exclusively. You also have sex occasionally, and other people know about this. You will certainly be hard-pressed by others to describe the nature of your relationship.

Later on, Intoy lamented that he and Jenny does not use term of endearments (fruitcake, anyone?) for one another. This is known as friends with benefits. At one point, Jenny declared that she is “canceling” all “benefits” Intoy enjoys – only to restore them days later.

A "Ligo na U, Lapit na Me" poster in SM North EDSA

How many times have we heard of couples out there who refuse to attach labels about the real score between them (some of those may be ex-lovers themselves)? What you see is not always what you get. Defining one’s relationship status is not always as easy as Facebook makes it appear to be.  As someone who has been there, I can say it is not easy.

3) Motel scenes – I have wrote before that premarital pregnancies are on the rise in this country. Well, not only that. Non-committed sex is far more frequent, for sure. The sexual trysts between Intoy and Jenny are condemnable from a conservative perspective for two reasons: first, they are not yet married, and second, they are not even in a relationship. And, as one can surmise, their respective parents are totally unaware of these. The motel room, therefore, provided them a venue where they can achieve sexual liberation.

4) A liberated woman – There is nothing new with Filipinas openly declaring their love for sex. However, Jenny takes this to the next level. After moving heaven and earth to get Intoy’s attention, she asked him to have sex with her, and she even footed the motel bill (is it just me, or is this an indication of who wants to have sex more?)! Intoy’s world turned upside down after Jenny revealed her pregnancy. To top it off, she declared: “Don’t worry, this is not yours.” After this, Jenny disappears from the movie. Intoy can’t help but wonder: “Ginamit lang ba niya ako? Ano ako, tagakamot ng kati?” (“Did she only use me to satisfy her sexual needs?”)

5) How to recover – Just what stupid things can you do out of broken heartedness? Intoy wasted his parents’ cash gift to him for his graduation on things he thought would be able to make him forget Jenny, like engaging in a drinking spree and having sex with an underage prostitute. His efforts to move on proved futile, however. In one of the last scenes in the movie, Intoy questioned why the word closure was even invented. The movie ended with Intoy meeting Jenny once again while he is job hunting. Just when he is raring to start a new chapter in his life, here comes a remnant from his past. No closure, indeed.

Recommended links:

Official movie profile from Cinemalaya:  http://www.cinemalaya.org/film_ligona.htm

Movie review by Julien Merced Matabuena for Manila Bulletin: http://www.mb.com.ph/node/327421/ligo-na-u-lapit-na-me-from-lu

Movie review from ClickTheCity.com: http://www.clickthecity.com/movies/?p=12690

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