THE satirical comedy, Ang Babae sa Septic Tank, is back for a third installment. This time the cult favorite tackles the issue of historical revisionism, with comic Eugene Domingo playing herself as a director and main actress in a Josephine Bracken biopic.
“Great franchises usually come in threes… so I thought there should be [a third entry, it shouldn’t stop at one and two,” Chris D. Martinez, the series writer, said during a press conference on July 10 at the ABS-CBN offices in Quezon City.
But unlike the first two films — released in 2011 and 2016 — the third Septic Tank will be a seven-part series to be downloaded for free on July 17 on ABS-CBN’s streaming service, iWant.
The new Septic Tank is also directed by Marlon Rivera who directed the previous two films.
“Part three came with the dawning of [streaming services]. There was a time when I was binge-watching several series and I thought, why couldn’t we do [Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 3] into a series?” Mr. Martinez said.
“I think the format of Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 3 really suits a series because it’s a process of how to make a film: from the script to pre-production to shooting to post-production and the final episode is the premiere night,” he added.
In this version, Ms. Domingo once again plays an egotistical [and now megalomaniacal] version of herself who thinks it is time that she — a seasoned and successful actress — transitions into film directing to emulate her idols like National Artists for Film Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal.
And her chosen film? The Real Untold Story of Josephine Bracken, told from the point-of-view of the Irish woman who became Jose P. Rizal’s common-law wife until his death in 1896.
“She’s the top leading lady in history because she’s the one chosen by our national hero, Jose Rizal, and I was also thinking about the most absurd character [Ms. Domingo] can play in the roster of historical figures,” Mr. Martinez said.
At the press conference, media watched the first two episodes which had Ms. Domingo saying why she wanted to be a director and how determined she was to realize her dream — to the point of virtually taking hostage director/writer Jose Javier Reyes to create the script.
“You?! As Josephine Bracken?! She’s fucking Irish!,” Mr. Reyes tells Ms. Domingo in one scene. But her expression makes it clear that nothing will stop her from directing the film and playing an 18-year-old Irish girl.
Despite this being his first acting gig, Mr. Reyes is hilarious and convincing as a put-upon veteran director and writer bound by a contract to write a script for a historical biopic.
The film also stars Joanna Ampil as Mr. Rizal’s sister, Narcisa, while Mylene Dizon plays a very reluctant Saturnina, Mr. Rizal’s eldest sister. Tony Labrusca plays “the hunkiest Jose Rizal ever,” according to the press release.
While Mr. Martinez said that of all the Septic Tanks this series is by far the funniest, it is important to note that like all entries in the franchise, the series likewise puts forward a few inconvenient truths because the franchise is “the sign of the times.”
“It’s also a way for us to comment on historical revisionism, how [others] appropriate facts and other events to fit our needs. We’re at an era where we twist the truth and skew the news to serve our purposes,” he said.
The first Septic Tank was a satire on the prevalence of poverty porn in independent films while the second lampooned the constant churning out of romantic-comedies and their tropes.
To give a proper perspective on history, the film includes historian Ambeth R. Ocampo explaining the historical context, usually with comedic quips like “There were 11 children [in Rizal’s household]. Francisco Mercado and Teodora Alonso were as productive as rabbits.”
A film version of the series will be shown at the Cinemalaya film festival in August. Mr. Martinez said this is like “coming home” because the first film won Best picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Screenplay, and Audience Choice Award during the 2011 Cinemalaya International Film Festival.
Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 3: The Real Untold Story of Josephine Bracken will be released on July 17 on the iWant app, available on iOS and Android or on iwant.ph. — Zsarlene B. Chua