Flicks and Reruns: Bwakaw

Back in the 90s and the early 2000s, many Filipinos will equate Eddie Garcia as the quintessential action star, though already in his 70s and 80s he was able to headline several slam-bang action films. In the past few years however perhaps with the action genre taking a backseat, Eddie Garcia was able to play a myriad of characters, notably in drama and comedy playing up to characters that typifies his age.

In the Cinemalaya 2012 entry Bwakaw,  he plays Rene, an aging homosexual, who belatedly emerges out of the closet. He lives with its stigma, being grumpy and short-tempered a security mechanism in his lonely world. He lives his life awaiting death and goes so preparing for it, one of these routines is making his last will and pestering the local parish priest whom he has requested to take charge of implementing his testament. He also gets to work without salary at the local post office being a postal office retiree, a job he has continued to take trying to relieve much of his loneliness and boredom

In the course of his daily routine, he is accompanied by his loyal dog Bwakaw, a typical mongrel. Bwakaw is perhaps his only companion, the only character who can bear Rene's crankiness which has began to rub off with his townmates. However Bwakaw is diagnosed to be suffering from some kind of a canine cancer, a dying dog ironically opens up Rene to giving his morose life a second chance that includes meeting new friends, falling in love and getting broken-hearted.

Bwakaw is an inspirational tale about life and hope. That we don't have to spend wretched lives, moping and resenting our misfortunes or drowning in our ennui, it teaches that life and hope are connected variables as the old tagalog adage said "habang may buhay, may pag-asa."

The movie is helmed by from June Lana who directed the 2005 Katrina Halili flick Gigil.  If you saw the fast-paced, titillatingly energetic Gigil, then you would be surprise that Bwakaw is so much different from it. The movie moves at a pace which I likened to a carabao pulling a heavy cart, rolling much to the cadence of its parochial setting. The slowness of the movie provides a heartfelt and sincere portrait of a character burdened by sheer loneliness which he concludes as some sort of an unreasonable divine punishment.

Eddie Garcia gives a much textured and sensitive performance in the film, one of his powerful scenes was when he pleaded for understanding to a furious Rez Cortez when the latter found out that Rene (Garcia) was attempting  a smoocharoo on him. His restrained but effective portrayal avoiding the usual pitfall of a cliched screaming/crying faggot type of acting is a hallmark from perhaps one of the greatest, most experienced and versatile actors of Philippine cinema.


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