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Patay-Na-Si-Hesus

YOUR ESTRANGED FATHER, Hesus, has died, and your mother asks you and your siblings (including the family dog Hudas) to go on a road trip from Cebu to Dumaguete to pay your final respects. You try your best to excuse yourself, but your mother will hear nothing of it.

This is how the predominantly Cebuano language comedy film Patay na Si Hesus begins.

Road trip movies are popular — Y Tu Mama Tambien, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, My Own Private Idaho, The Ride, Easy Rider, Motorcycle Diaries, To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar, Midnight Run, Planes Trains and Automobiles, Rain Man, Elizabethtown, and Thelma and Louise are just some of the titles offered when one asks people for their favorites on Facebook.

Of local films there’s Two Funerals and Colorum (both Cinemalaya entries in years past), Pauwi Na, and Sandalang Bahay.

Early on there was a loud buzz about Patay na si Hesus, which is one of the 12 movies that will be shown for an entire week, from Aug. 16 to 22, in theaters nationwide for the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP), an initiative of the Film Development council of the Philippines (FDCP).

Screenwriter and writing mentor Ricky Lee, who was part of the jury that selected the film as one of the 12 finalists of PPP, said the film “Celebrates the joyous imperfections of every Filipino family. Jaclyn Jose leads a superb cast of quirky yet lovable characters on a road trip that will leave you crying and laughing at the same time.”

The characters of the movie are endearing. OTJ and Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros’ writer Michiko Yamamoto is quoted in the movie’s press kit as saying she loves them so much she wishes that Iyay (Ms. Jose, the mother), Hubert (the eldest son who has Down Syndrome), Jude, and Jay (Melde Montanez) were real people.

The film’s director, Victor Villanueva, said during a Q&A at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, where it was screened during the Cinemalaya Film Festival, that Patay na si Hesus was inspired by the experiences of the family of the movie’s writer Fatrick Tabada.

Mr. Villanueva also tapped the experiences of his own Cebu-based family that frequently vacationed in Dumaguete. He pointed out that in the same way that Manileños frequent Tagaytay, Cebuanos love going to Dumaguete on road trips.

In his free time, according to the film’s press kit, Mr. Tabada “takes jeepney and bus rides without any destination in mind. On such trips, he conjures places and people that don’t exist.”

Patay na si Hesus is his first produced screenplay. — Susan Claire Agbayani

MTRCB Rating: R-13

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