(MISTEYKS OPDA NEYSION ADRES YATA)
OR SIMPLY M.O.N.A.Y.!
The latest film of Director Jun Urbano, short for Manuel Urbano Jr., son of actor-writer-director-producer Manuel Conde, is produced by ONABRU (which is really Urbano read backwards) Films. The film is really star-studded. Just read through this ensemble of performers: Jun Urbano, Leo Martinez, Gloria Romero, Tirso Cruz III, German Moreno, Giselle Sanchez, Ricky Davao, Jimmy Fabregas, Jeric Raval, Rez Cortez, Caridad Sanchez, Jimmy Santos, Noel Trinidad, Nanette Inventor, Ronnie Lazaro, Gary Lising, Mat Ranillo III, Long Mejia, Bembol Roco, Archie Adamos, Ramon Zamora, Boy Alano, Palito, Mely Tagasa, Rey Solo, Tado, Berting Labra, Philip Supnet, Jay Ar Apuyan, Vanessa Mercado, Bayani Casimiro Jr., Riva Reyes, Shalala, Flora Gasser and Rafraf Santiago. Whew…what a long list of stars and would be stars. But I have to include their names in the list least I maybe charged of favoritism!
The premiere showing of M.O.N.A.Y. ni Mr. Shooli was held last Saturday, March 17, at the SM Megamall and will open in selected theaters on Wednesday, March 21. Before the film showing, I was informed that there would be a press conference at McDonald just infront of the movie house.
Before the VIP’s arrived, I had the chance to talk to the director of the movie for a few question. He directed six movies before including Hoy, Wala Kang Paki and Juan Tamad. But he also directed thousandss of commercials, according to him. He considers the town of Daet in Camarines Norte as his hometown where he spent part of his childhood His late father, Manuel Conde had his roots in that town.
The first arrivals were Caridad Sanchez and Flora Gasser, followed by Gary Lising, Archie Adamos, Leo Martinez, Jimmy Fabregas, Ronnie Lazaro, Ernie Zarate, Bembol Roco and Ricky Davao with his three kids in tow. Vanessa Mercado and Riva Reyes who were also in the cast sat beside me in the same table were Lolo Buenaobra was with his nephew. There was a short, impromptu program highlighted by short speeches of the members of the cast.
Right after dinner, we were ushered into the adjacent moviehouse. It was around 8:00 PM when the movie began after some door prizes were drawn for the lucky patrons
The movie started with Mr. Shooli talking to his horse, and since he came from Mongolia, he spoke Tagalog with a Chinese accent. Mr. Shooli grew up and studied in one of the schools in Manila before returning to Mongolia fifty years ago. At the film’s beginning, he received a letter from his teacher Professor Garcia who wants to see him before he dies. Guest stars in cameo roles begin to appear as soon as Mr. Shooli took the plane that will bring him back to the Philippines, Tirso Cruz III was the flight steward Mr. Shooli mistppk for a conductor. Tirso as the funny steward was a natural comedian with his punch lines done in undertone. Jimmy Santos appeared as a policeman on foot patrol and Ronnie Lazaro as the taxi driver who brought Mr. Shooli to the his rendezvous place with Kuhol. He drove through a roundabout route that saw the taxi passing the majestic Mayon Volcano in Albay and even the zigzag Road in Baguio.
In the long run, Mr. Shooli was just in time to meet his ailing teacher who finally succumbed before ths Mnongolian. During the wake, Congressman Manhik-Manaog (Leo Martinez) came to offer his condolence and his “abuloy” making sure the people in the wake was watching him. Congressman Manhik-Manaog underplayed the role compared with his usual TV characterization of the same role. His delineation was underacting but hilariously riotous.
Gloria Romero was a former classmate of Mr. Shooli. She has been married three times, but all her husbands died and she was left in limbo. She finished her scene in a straight- jacket as her character is revealed as a mentally-stricken patient.
The character of Mr. Shooli reminded me of the movies of the late Manuel Conde, full of satire and parody. I remember the film Juan Tamad with famous scenes from the native wit’s lives– Juan letting loose several crabs and ordering them to go home on their own, and Juan lying under a guava tree waiting for the fruit to drop into his open mouth. There was more visual humor.
In M.O.N.A.Y., the humor lies more on the dialogue that I think only Jun Urbano can deliver this more effectively. The film underscores the fallibility of the Pilipino mentality. It also sideswipes present political realities in the country where majority of the people are seemingly at the mercy of politicians, most of them resorting to uprising and living in the mountains as rebels like the role played by Ernie Zarate. There can be no rebels if there is nothing to rebel about, the film tries to emphasize. The lines of Congressman Manhik-Manaog about politics and politicians is a glaring reality in Philippine politics: May mga tangang pulitiko dahil may mga tangang botante. Which almost sounds like: There can be no tyrants if there are no slaves. Will these phrases serve as a wake-up call to voters and politicians?
M.O.N.A.Y is not just an ordinary funny movie. There is an underlying tone thast is calling for change, a great leap for reform. We Pilipinos deserve a life of contentment and peace, and our trust to the leaders that the street parliament will no longer be necessary.
The Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC), a Hong Kong based research group tagged the Philippines as the “most corrupt economy” in the whole of Asia. This is something we should not accept in silence. But according to the Chief Executive, this was based merely on perception of foreign investors. Even if it is true that this is merely based on perception, the government must do something to counter this perception. Who among us will believe that there is no corruption in our midst? There are politicians and government men holding sensitive positions charged with corruption and illegal activities but none of them were brought to court or even investigated. Instead, these corrupt officials are elevated to more sensitive and important positions in the government. Only in the Philippines, mind you?
I urge people to watch M.O.N.A.Y. This is not a simple comedy film, it is more than that! Every character in the movie represent some people in the government, some people in our midst, in the market place, in the medical profession, in the military, in the police force and in whatever conceivable part of our society. The film is all about us!
The last part of the movie I think is the most important aspect of the whole film. A great summary of the whole proceedings where Mr. Shooli was apprehended and charged with rebellion. Somehow, the film naughtily nudges us to be reminded of the Trillaneses, the Honasans and the Beltrans?
The monologue of Mr. Shooli in the last part maybe the same words of these people who were charged wrongly and jailed. The dialogue is not simply touching. It pierces the heart, the conscience and the mind. If you are a true-blooded Pilipino and you love your country, you cannot help but feel the pain, the agony and disgust of Mr. Shooli as he delivered his tirade in his quest for redemption. I must admit that as I listened to his monologue, tears really trickled from my eyes. It was that moving. Thank God I am not guilty of the sins the Mongolian plaintively enumerated. Go see the movie and wake up!