camp master

"(Elwood Perez) would forever remember Gosiengfiao as "a bohemian in a turtleneck, a cigarette dangling from his lips, like French actress Jeanne Moreau," Perez said." - report on the Inquirer

I discovered joey gosengfiao after i had discovered brocka and bernal. as a pretentious newly grad keen on learning everything about the movies and as a fledging writer hellbent on changing the world, i was more interested in social dramas and films (that's films, not movies) that had garnered an X number of awards from various film festivals. of course, it was not surprising that i was a rather humorless kid. i took myself way too seriously despite the fact that most people around me didnt. i guess that's how young men weaned on a strange diet of jd salinger, william burroungs and jack keroack usually are. i was a poseur desperately wanting to be seen as a man of gravitas. it was only later in life, after experiencing real pain and rejection, did i learn to laugh at myself and more importantly, at the world in general. recently, in a span of a day, i was rejected by a news organization, got so broke i couldnt afford to take a cab to work, received a salary with so many deductions i was quite sure it would not last for a week, and was informed that we were being kicked out of our apartment. instead of bawling my eyes out, i found myself laughing. i stopped typing another horrendous script and engaged in a hilarious chitchat with two of my gay officemates. portentously they were talking about gosengfiao and recalled a scene from bomba star.

actor (calling out to alma moreno): stella, stella...

alma moreno ignores the boy and opens a dictionary. she looks up the word "stella". she then turns to the boy and says:

alma: alam mo ba ang ibig sabihin nang "stella"? Star! Magiging star ako!

of course in the movie alma did eventually become a bomba star and on the premiere of her movie, a jealous marissa delgado takes out a gun and causes a stampede inside the theater. the movie was hilarious as hell and watching my two officemates reenact the scene was enough to make me sane again. i guess thats why we love watching his movies. bomba star, virginia p, etc were so crazy and so gay that we couldnt help but be floored by its ridiculousness. some filmmakers interpret life with so much seriousness that you begin to doubt if the producers are being serious at all. gosengfiao, on the other hand, sees life as one big bitchy catfight complete with sharp manicured nails and arched stenciled eyebrows, the kind where characters mouth lines like: "Rub-a-dub-dub, two bitches in a tub!".

In virginia p (I dont exactly remember what her P stands for? Was it pakangkang?), alma moreno (if almodovar had antonio then gosengfiao had alma) experiences having her parents being flattened by a bulldozer and being oppresed by joey marquez's (ugh!) rich family. in the all-important climax, which happens in an abandoned mining site, an intoxicated alice dixson appears out of nowhere holding a flute glass filled with champagne on one hand and a gun on another. On her seductive red lips dangled a cigarette. after exchanging lines with alma, she accidentally sets herself on fire. Just like that.

according to an inquirer report, gosengfiao was planning his big comeback before he died a couple of days ago. apparently, he was searching for a writer and someone suggested chris martinez (who adapted the movie temptation island and zsa zsa zaturnna for the stage). i think it would have been a great tandem. im also a fan of chris martinez. both gosengfiao and martinez seem to be the kind who could take the zirkoh / klownz type of humor (low camp) and infuse it with wit and intelligence (high camp). it might have been one fabulous movie. sayang!

Gosengfiao may not have exposed the social / political injustices in the country or delved into serious cinema but he is undoubtedly a genius. After all, who would have thought of putting an ice cream and a huge electric fan right in the middle of a desert? Crazy as it may sound, i see gosengfiao sauntering into the gates of heaven and having been greeeted by st. peter, utters virginia p's classic line: "You may kiss me if you want..."


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