Lino Brocka’s “Ang Tatay Kong Nanay” (My Father, My Mother, roughly, 1978) is the master filmmaker’s one collaboration with the near-universally acknowledged King of Philippine Comedy, Dolphy (Rodolfo Vera Quizon). Screen legends working with famed filmmakers rarely if ever create sure bets; it’s something of a surprise, then that the resulting picture from these two is so straightforwardly poignant, laced with just enough humor to wriggle past one’s defenses.
It’s a simple premise: Dioscoro Derecho, a.k.a. Coring (Dolphy) has nurtured a crush for his handsome young friend Dennis (Philip Salvador, Brocka’s then newfound protégé). When Dennis appears at Coring’s door with a baby and a need to disappear for a while, Coring has no choice but to take in the child, and raise him as best he can.
If there’s any comedy in the picture, unlike with most of Dolphy’s movies, the humor arises from character rather than situation, and Dolphy here reveals himself as a superb character actor. Witness his discomfort at dealing with Dennis (the physical attraction he feels so intense he almost feels faint); witness too the growing sense of maternal love he feels for Nonoy, Dennis’ child (played by Nino Mulach (if, as W.C. Fields warns us, we should never act opposite dogs and children, Dolphy had his hands full trying not to be upstaged by this indescribably cute, frighteningly precocious young actor)).
More, there’s the handling of homosexuality, which is startlingly deft, considering the times when this was made. Coring doesn’t believe in gay empowerment—when Nonoy catches him in drag, he makes excuses; when the boy puts on lipstick (in an attempt to play an American Indian), Coring, misunderstanding, reprimands the boy. Brocka shows us a gay man who fails to transcend his times (Coring believes homosexuality is a flaw—or worse, a sin), who nevertheless does his level best to be a parent to the child; watching Coring bumble along in desperate befuddlement, often against the dictates of his own heart, creates a complex knot of feelings in the viewer. You feel your heart quietly breaking in sympathy for the man, the same time you find yourself (despite the film’s overall serious tone) chuckling in amusement.—www.cinefilipino.com
Lino Brocka was born in Pilar, Sorsogon. He directed his first film, Wanted: Perfect Mother, based on The Sound of Music and a local comic serial, in 1970. It won an award for best screenplay at the 1970 Manila Film Festival. Later that year he also won the Citizen’s Council for Mass Media’s best-director award for the film Santiago!.
In 1974 Brocka directed Weighed But Found Wanting, which told the story of a teenager growing up in a small town amid its petty and gross injustices. It was a box-office hit, and earned Brocka another best-director award, this time from the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS).
The following year he directed The Claws of Light, which is considered by many critics to be the greatest Philippine film ever made – including British film critic and historian Derek Malcolm 1. The film tells the allegorical tale of a young provincial named Julio Madiaga who goes to Manila looking for his lost love, Ligaya Paraiso. The episodic plot… read more