Patay na si Hesus: Rich in Culture, Rich in Life

Photo from the Facebook page of Patay na si Hesus

IT IS time to rehash old wounds and point out the fresh, new ones in Victor Villanueva’s film, Patay na si Hesus. The title itself gives the impression of an atheist remark and even a support to Nietzche’s God is dead philosophy as Iyay (Jaclyn Jose) relentlessly mincing a porkchop then out of the blue blurts out the phrase, “Patay na si Hesus.” This premise immediately subsides as she reveals that Hesus is actually the name of her recently deceased husband whom she separated with a long time ago.

Hesus’ death leads Iyay to force her three sons, Hubert (Vincent Viado), Jude (Chai Fonancier) and Jay (Melde Montañez) and their Shih Tzu named Judas to join her in a road trip from their hometown Cebu to Dumaguete in attending their estranged father’s wake. Simple yet exhilarating, the mishaps they face during the trip let the comical aspect of the film seep through its characters. It is clear that their grievance over the long commute is bigger rather than Hesus’ demise, as the characters show no emotional attachment to him. The film’s depth is focused on their travel as they experience unexpected stop overs in the road that reveal the characters’ current troubles.

Amusement ensues with the juxtaposition of the two names Judas and Hesus since there is a distinct treatment for the other with Judas the one always showered with love while Hesus is despised and treated like nothing. The irony surfaces in the two characters as they describe Hesus to be an ill-tempered man and a womanizer, and Judas as a docile and comforting companion.

Each character possesses flaws that reaches out and begs to be further cracked open and examined. Jay lives his bum life with pride and avoids responsibility at all times, hence his aversion to find work.  Meanwhile, his older brother Hubert desires to be treated like an adult yet struggles in doing so because of his down syndrome. The middle son, Jude (Judith Marie in the past), works to the bone in order to fulfill his girlfriend and her daughter’s needs turning him deep in debt while under constant mockery for his sexuality as a transman. Knowing this, Iyay feels anxious and wonders if her decision to be a single mother is right as she strives in reassuring her children’s worries throughout the entire trip.

The film’s ingenious way of spending most of its time on highways, stores, and towns during the trip presents the region’s local colors. What sets Patay na si Hesus from the rest of the films in the 2017 Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino is how Villanueva introduces the viewers a genuine feel of Cebu as he chooses a Cebu based cast, soundtrack, and even uses Cebuano dialogue in the entirety of the film.

Patay na si Hesus has steady footing in its acts of comedy and sentimental moments. Its sensible climax and resolution leaves the viewers yearning as they witness the family’s journey to Dumaguete. It leaves the idea of seeing life as one long road trip. What makes it worthwhile are the companions and stop overs one has along the way, realizing that its significance does not lie in the destination, but in the journey towards it. F

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