Music and love are the focus of Laxamana’s two film fest entries

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WHEN FOUR brothers who make up a family band are forced to relocate to a remote town in Pampanga after a super typhoon destroys their home, a rich city girl passionate about music decides to help them record their songs. This is the premise of Jason Paul Laxamana’s Bakwit Boys, one of the entries in this year’s Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP) which starts Aug. 15 in cinemas nationwide.

The film is Mr. Laxamana’s first musical film — a genre he wanted to work in for a long time.

“I’m not a musician but I love music,” he told the media shortly before a press conference on Aug. 7 at the Limbaga 77 restaurant in Quezon City.

Before becoming a filmmaker best known for sad love stories such as 100 Tula Para Kay Stella (2017) which was also one of the entries in last year’s PPP, Mr. Laxamana worked for a few years as a radio DJ in Pampanga and used his program to play songs from independent music artists.

His love for both his hometown and music led him to create this tale of growing up, family, and love.

Bakwit Boys is about family, it is about the underdogs, and about dreamers. We hope that the movie will have viewers singing — and crying tears of joy — until the credits roll and until they step out of the cinema,” Mr. Laxamana was quoted as saying in a press release.

Bakwit is a Cebuano term which came from the English word “evacuate” and is used to describe evacuees. Mr. Laxamana said that while the word is not new, it gained popularity in Pampanga (and arguably the rest of the Philippines) after the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991 (Mr. Laxamana was a survivor of the calamity). The word was again used to describe the Marawi evacuees after the siege last year.

The film features six original songs by Jhaye Cura, an old friend of Mr. Laxamana and an independent artist. The songs include “Ligtas Ka Na,” “Fiona,” and “Patibong.” “She’s got a gift of melody,” said Mr. Laxamana of the composer. “That’s why I wanted to give her songs a chance to be heard through this film.”

The director mentioned that one of the films he was inspired by was the Irish romantic musical drama, Once (2007), directed by John Carney.

Bakwit Boys — a T-Rex Production — stars Vance Larena, Mackie Empuerto, Ryle Santiago, and Nikko Natividad as the four Datul brothers while Devon Seron stars as the city girl, Rose.

Aside from Bakwit Boys, Mr. Laxamana has another film in the 2018 PPP, The Day After Valentine’s, about a girl who tries to mend a guy’s broken heart.

The film is produced by Viva Films, which also produced 100 Tula Para Kay Stella. The Day After Valentine’s features Bela Padilla and JC Santos who also starred in 100 Tula. Mr. Laxamana noted that in the citation given by the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB), the film was described as “more heartbreaking” than its predecessor.

Both The Day After Valentines and Bakwit Boys received a grade of “A” from the CEB.

The two films and six other entries in this year’s PPP will be screened starting Aug. 15 in cinemas nationwide. — Zsarlene B. Chua