Film Review: Saan Nagtatago Ang Pag-ibig

The Plot: Rick (Ricky Davao), an irresponsible, lecherous law student, always makes his brain-damaged half-brother Val (Tonton Gutierrez) his fall guy for fear of losing the inheritance from his wealthy authoritarian grandmother Doña Pacing (Alicia Vergel). This time he makes Val marry his pregnant girlfriend Stella (Vilma Santos) to save her face and to mollify her parents. Bankrupt with their house facing forfeiture, their mother Carmen (Gloria Romero) is completely fearful and subservient to her intimidating mother in-law Doña Pacing who hates and blames her for the suicide of her son due to Carmen’s past indiscretion. Though trapped in her dire circumstances, Stella stays faithful to her marriage and tries to be a good wife by diligently teaching the childlike Val who finds comfort and love for Stella. – TFC Now (READ MORE)

The Reviews: Nang malaman ni Stella na buntis siya ay pinilit niyang managot ang kasintahan nitong si Rick, isang law student na tagapagmana na ariarian ng kanyang matapobreng lola. Dahil sa panakot na mag-i-iskandalo’y ipinakasal nila si Stella sa kapatid ni Rick na retarded upang hindi mawala ang mana nito at kasabay ay maiwasan ang kahihiyan ni Stella na mabuntis ng walang asawa at ama ang kanyang dinadalang bata. Kasabay ng pagbubuntis ni Stella ay natutunan nitong mahalin ang retarded na si Val. Kasabay rin nito’y natuklasan ni Stella na si Val ay anak sa labas ng kanilang ina at ito’y hindi sinilang na kulang-kulang. Dahil sa kalupitan ng matapobreng lola ng mga bata’y nahulog ito sa hagdanan ng pagbintangan si Val ng matandang nagnanakaw ng pera. Nahulog ang batang si Val habang pinapalo ito ng kanyang ina. Isang gabi’y nagwala si Val nang Makita nitong nakikipagtalo si Stella kay Rick. Sinunggaban ni Val si Rick at nagaway sila. Ang naging resulta ng pag-aaway na ito’y aksidenteng nahulog sa balkonahe ang kaawa-awang si Val. Namatay ito at sa araw ng libing ay dumating ang matapobreng matanda para ibigay ang abuloy nito kay Stella. Isinauli ni Stella ang tseke sa matanda at ipinahayag na si Val ang ginawa nilang ama ng anak ni Rick dahil sa takot silang lahat na mawalan ng mana. Galit na umalis ang matanda at tuluyang naglaho ang mana ni Rick. Nagdesisyon na iwan ni Stella ang bahay kasama ng kanyang anak.

Mula sa direksiyon ni Eddie Garcia, ang Saan Nagtatago Ang Pag-ibig ay hango sa komiks. Bagama’t mahahalatang puro isang dimensiyon lamang ang halos lahat na karakter ng pelikula’y mahusay naman naihayag ni Direktor Eddie ang komiks na komiks na istorya nito. Bakit kailangang maging binata si Rick habang nagaaral ito ng abogasya? Bakit napakahalaga nito sa matapobreng si Alicia Vergel? Bakit may nakatakip ang isa sa mata ng matanda na parang bandido? Sa ubod ng yaman ng matanda hindi ba puedeng maglagay ng pekeng mata kesa sa bendand itim? Bagamat nakakatawa ang obserbasyon na ito’y dahil sa bisyuwal na kaanyuan ng matapobreng matanda kung kaya naman epektibong makikita ang pagiging kontrabida nito. Tulad ng “Paano Ba Ang Mangarap,” merong ‘dream sequence” ang pelikula kung saan kunwari’y hinuhusgahan si Val na isang baliw. Kung puputulin ang eksenang ito’y hindi magiging sagabal sa paglalahad ng buong istorya ni Gilda Olvidado. Mula sa lumang bahay hanggang sa eksena sa libingan ay mahusay ang sinematograpiya ni Romy Vitug at disenyong pangproduksiyon ni Manny Morpe. Mahusay ang mga katulong na artista mula kay Cherrie Gil, Alicia Alonzo at Alicia Vergel. Mahusay rin si Ricky Davao bilang Rick at Gloria Romero bilang ina ni Rick at Val. Ngunit ang pelikulang ito’y tungkol kay Val at bilang si Val ay nabigyan ng mahusay na pagganap ni Tonton Gutierrez ang papel na sinto sinto mula sa pagsasalita na utal utal haggang sa pisikal na mukha at pa-ika-ikang paglalakad. Tulad ng inaasahan, mahusay si Vilma bilang si Stella. At tulad ng maraming pelikulang ginawa niya sa ilalim ng Viva at sa direksiyon ni Eddie Garcia ay merong linya o dayalogo siya na hindi malilimutan, ito ay nang bigkasin niya ang linyang, “…si Val, si val na wala naman malay…” na magpahanggang ngayon ay natanim sa mga Pilipino na mahihilig sa pelikulang tagalog. – RV (READ MORE)

Where does logic hide? – On the outset, this latest output churned by the factory of high gloss komiks melodramas suffers from serious credibility problem. Can a retardate enter into a marriage if the other party consents to it? This sham marriage is void ab initio because of the groom’s incapacity but the film proceeds as if it is legally binding. A causal glance can make the officiator doubt the capacity of the groom but the wedding must take place as has been scripted. The groom later affixes his thumb print on the marriage contract to signify his consent. We are made to believe that it is as simple as that. This is a far worse predicament than waht Vilma Santos suffered in Ibigay Mo sa Akin ang Bukas where she married a homosexual but whose sexual aberration she was not aware of before the wedding. It would take several years before Vilma, who surprisingly played a doctor, finally saw the truth. It was an insult to the viewer’s mind. This time, Vilma (Estella) is presumed into marrying Tonton Gutierrez (Val) because her beau Ricky Davao (Ric) has made her pregnant but cannot give her his name, at least, for the moment. If he marries her at this stage, Ric forfeits the vast inheritance which his rich grandma (Alicia Vergel) has promised to bequeth to him. Tic has made a deal with the old woman that he will finish law and pass the bar before getting hitched. Estella will then seek nullification of her marriage to Val. The red-blooded male, of course, cannot control his libido and succeeds in handling his girlfriend during her fertile grind.

Ric loves Estella directly but not enough to forego his inherittance. It is imperative for Ric to stuck to the deal because his family is in dim straits. His mother’s (Gloria Romero) antique shop isn’t going well and their house has been mortgaged witht the bank. Concerned auntie (Alicia Alonzo) suggests looking for a harmless male to give Estella’s baby a legitimate name while Ric finishes his studies. The task fall on Val Ric’s half-brother, who fell down the stais years ago which caused his retardation. Estella soon learns to accept her new status as wife, maid and teacher to Val which creates a rift between her and Ric. A fight occurs between the brothers which sends Val crushing down the grand veranda….For sure, the film has been well-acted. Vilma, once again awes us with her astringent putdowns in her familiar facial expressions and pertinent body language. That long monologue in front of the dying Tonton is an eloquent testimony to her acting talent. Tonton is worthy of notice as the retardate but we have to be assured that he is capable of doing the things he does in the film. Can he really remember the past with such clarity despite his brain damage? Nevertheless, he has captured the mannerisms and speech of the character he portrays. Alicia Vergel comes on too strong as the aristocratic Nyora Pacing who wears an eyepatch and walks with a cane. Ricky Davao vies for attection in his anti-hero role. Cherie Gil as Ricky’s flighty sister is less fierry but more believable. Gloria Romero delivers a sensitive portrayal of the weak mother with a dark past while Alicia Alonzo plays her sister who is privy to the family’s secrets. Eddie Garcia should be commended for toning down his confrontation scenes. His familiarity with this film genre shows in the way he manipulates the characters and builds up the scene. Still, one cannot help but questions the logic behind that sham marriage. – Luciano E. Soriano (READ MORE)

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