Mark Gil Sabandal
In a world where you need to deal with your widowed-criminal father Mang Paco (Soliman Cruz) and two older brothers Bogs (Ping Medina) and Boy (Neil Ryan Sese ) who are involved in an illegal gambling operation and selling stolen mobile phones is no doubt execrable. That is the life that Maxi (Nathan Lopez), an effeminate 12-year old boy, face in the slums of Manila. At a very young age, Maxi knows that he is different from stereotypical boys who love to play robots or physical games. He opted to do household chores such as cooking, washing dishes, and cleaning the house which normally being done or assigned to do by girls or females. Despite of the fact that his family wholeheartedly accepted his “differences” such as putting make up all over his face, cross-dressing habits, walk like a beauty queen whenever he goes out of his house, dance as if his body is fluid, unique personality and out of the normal norms in the society, Maxi never felt less of a person. His jolly personality serves as a light in the family making their house a home.
However, as a gay living in a patriarchal society receiving insulted words on a daily basis has been part of Maxi’s life until one day there was a group of men who viciously attacked him and he was saved by his knight and shining armor Victor (JR Valentin), a rookie cop who believes that truth will always prevail no matter what happens and he takes his work with full integrity. That moment was the very first time Maxi fell in love. From that day on, although his schedule is quite hectic because he serves his family, Maxi still able to manage his time by doing household chores and seeing Victor. There are so many scenes that are worth mentioning. One is when his brother Bogs (Ping Medina) got into a fight and killed a student that eventually Victor was assigned to handle the case. When Bogs was imprisoned, his father Mang Paco was screaming on top of his lungs and very upset. He ensured that Victor will pay for it until they met him on a one late night and his troublemaker boys ambushed him. The following day, Maxi thought of visiting Victor until he saw Victor’s bruised face.
Maxi felt guilty because he already knew that there was a commotion between his family and Victor. The only thing that he could do was to take care of victor so he prepared a brunch meal for him and he also cleaned the house. Little did he realize that his innocent eyes witness Victor’s butt while taking a bath but because he is innocent, he did not take advantage the situation but rather he kiss Victor cheek and that was the very first time that he felt so good in the most literal sense. He went home with so much joy in his heart, but what welcomes him at home was a slap on his face from his father Mang Paco. His dad found out that he went to Victor’s place again even if he already reprimanded him not to go there. Victor was stuck in a situation between choosing the love of his life or his family. Another miserable night happened for the Oliveros family. Mang Paco met Victor and his former ex-friend who happens to be the newly assigned chief cop in their municipality New Sergeant (Bodjie Pascua). Based on that particular scene it transcends that the two had a misunderstanding before that lead to hating one another. New Sergeant insisted that in order for Victor to be promoted and get a high rank in his career he must kill Mang Paco but Victor cannot take it so New Sergeant killed Mang Paco and Maxi witnessed it and what makes it worse is that Victor did not do anything. Maxi felt like Victor abandoned him. And violence continues. Bogs was able to get out of the imprisonment and he alongside his brother Boy made a decision to find New Sergeant and make him pay for killing his dad but apparently the it was not shown on the movie if they succeeded or not.
One of the most memorable lines I will never forget in this film is when Victor said that “there are so many evil men in the world and sometimes you have to play with their game“, but Maxi said “yes, there are so many evil men but I only had one father”. I like how it ends the film with so much positivism. First, Maxi was able to surpass all those hardships in life including his poppy love for Victor, as well as how he recovered from his father’s death. This shows that he became a better person. Genuine love for one another has been the heartfelt scene among the Oliveros brothers. Bogs ironed Maxi’s uniform while Boy prepared food for breakfast as well as something that Maxi can bring in school. I also love the scene where Bogs said that Maxi was so beautiful and when Maxi went to their mini-altar and touched his parents’ picture. This depicts Filipino culture – the love for our family.
This film absolutely adapts the queer theory approach of applying what is non-normative against the heterosexual or standard norm of a society. One good example is in the Philippines, it is too difficult to achieve acceptance especially that we mostly exercise patriarchal mentality. But as time goes by people get to tolerate LGBTQ and who knows someday we may achieve total development for humanity.
The great director Auraeus Solito as well as him entire team who made this film The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros received special awards from different award giving bodies both local and international such as Special Citation, Best Production Design as well as Special Jury Prize winner in the first Cinemalaya independent film festival in 2005, Best Actor (Nathan Lopez), Golden Lady Harimaguada also known as Best Director (Auraeus Solito) in Las Palmas Film Festival in Spain 2016, Best Picture in Gawad Urian Awards 2016, Teddy Award and Glass Bear – Special Mention for Best Feature Film in Berlin International Film Festival 2016, and Gawad Urian Awards’ Best Filipino Film of the Decade in 2010.
Full video can be retrieved and watched at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyONbn3WRTU