While the country is besieged by religion vs. secularism issues, the rest of us are laughing, well sort of. Perfect timing could describe Zombadings: Patayin Sa Shokot Si Remington showing in the cinemas to a T. Though issues of reproductive health, art censorship and fraudulent helicopter deals are not toilet jokes to rally around, they provide the perfect backdrop as to why a movie about homophobia and digital karma is downright funny.
Zombadings was the curtain closer at Cinemalaya 2011 directed by Jade Castro (Endo, My Big Love, TV5’s HushHush) starring relatively newcomers buoyed up by known actors and actresses of the country. Remington, played by Martin Escudero delivering a solid performance and a mesmerizing range as he sways form being a straight to an effeminate, with the right amount of boyish charm and later girlish flair, is an incoming freshman who grew up with contempt to gay men. When he was a kid, it was his grown habit throwing offense by shouting at “bakla!” (gay). At a churchyard, he met Pops (Roderick Paulate) who cast a curse on the young Remington of becoming gay when he grows up which eventually becomes of him after series of nightmares and at the time when gay-hate crimes are rampant in their town.
Though Zombadings prime structure follows Remington’s adventure in overcoming his “cursed gayness,” the film transcends to deeper, political undertones of conflicting Philippine stance on homosexuality. Attacks on conventionalism toward coming out “sayang naman kung bading ka, ang gwapo mo pa naman” (such a loss if you are gay, you are handsome to be one)” molds well with what Hannah (Lauren Young) said carte blanche when Remington was about to give in to the spell instead of finding a cure for it. These and many moral cruxes are passed-down to the audience that would go unnoticed with lesser attention, just as how humor is placed all over the film, they are handled with ease and on right cue.
Essentially, Zombadings is not the great critique of Philippine psyche on homophobia but rather a reflection of it. Told in the language of becky (gay person), viewers get what they expect from the film sans the degrading portrayal of baklang parlorista (gay hairdresser) but with shortened experience of what it is like living the life we think of as a nightmare or butt-of-jokes kind of social relations. Like a kick in the shin, Zombadings awards us with a 6-pack laugh of performances (Escudero serves a threat to his fellow contemporaries while Paulate owns the screen in his sequences) and an entertaining story, not to mention the worth-the-wait narration at the end, giving us what we bargained for and more.