Finally in Ishmael Bernal’s Relasyon, we have a film made explicitly for adults. There is no explicit sex sequence (adults don’t really go for that sort of thing, only adolescent boys do). But the psychological problems faced by the film are comprehensible only to adults, those who know what it means to live with someone one loves (or, at least, used to love).
This film is, thus, not entertaining in the usual prurient sense, but in a deeper, psychological, intellectual sense. There are basically two themes that this film tackles: sex roles and divorce. Vilma Santos represents womanhood in the film: Christopher de Leon represents manhood. The Filipina woman is commonly thought of as a martir or long-suffering masochist. Santos portrays a mistress who is an out-and-out martir. She serves De Leon hand and foot, ministering to his every need, including fetching beer for him, washing his clothes, serving as his shoulder to cry on, even baby-sitting his child. In return, all she gets from De Leon is chauvinistic love, void of tenderness, full of immature aggressiveness.
De Leon represents chauvinist maleness. He portrays a character who is totally insensitive to his woman’s needs. He wants the house done exactly to his own taste. He expects his woman to be there when he needs her, but does not even think that he should be there when she wants him. He finds nothing wrong with having a wife and a mistress at the same time.
On the other hand, he sees everything wrong with Santos entertaining suitor Jimi Melendez in the house. He’s even jealous of Manny Castaneda, Santos’ gay acquaintance. In short, he is selfishness personified. – Isagani Cruz, Parade magazine, 21 July 1982 (READ MORE)