August 11, 2016
Father and son relationships are tricky, especially while the boy is growing up. Based on my own personal experience, a father learns how to deal with his son by trial and error. A son is never an exact miniature version of his father, despite what others may think or say. Fatherhood is a constant struggle that every father wishes to master, but simply could not. There are simply no instant correct answers nor magic formulas to paternal success.
Set in the picturesque island province of Camiguin and told in the Visayan language, the simple title "Lando at Bugoy" refers to a father and son with those names. They live together in the same house, just the two of them only, yet they still really do not know each other, nor can they stand one another.
Lando is 40 years old, a high school dropout who now earns a living by carving tombstones (called "lapida" in the vernacular). His rebellious teenage son Bugoy is a delinquent student who would rather smoke and drink with his gang. One day, Lando decides to go back to school and becomes Bugoy's classmate. Will their shaky relationship take a turn for the better? or the worse?
Allen Dizon is Lando. As a performer, he had been constantly improving in the indie films I have seen him in. He had already proven his acting mettle when he won many Best Actor awards for his role in the recent Kapampangan film 'Magkakabaung". His character in that movie and in this one both have occupations that dealt with death. Impressive how he now speaks in Visayan for this one.
As a student trying to fit in with classmates more than half of his age, Dizon can be charming or cheesy, either way, his Lando was likable. I felt his sincerity and his effort. As a father, I totally feel his frustration about his son's hostile and disrespectful attitude towards him. It would really hurt a father to hear a son shouting back at him, what more cursing him.
Newcomer Gold Azeron was very natural in his acting as Bugoy. His role was rather one-dimensional as Bugoy was just being an angry or naughty kid for most of the film. Since he was also a titular character, it was too bad his role was not as well-molded as that of Lando.
Notable among the supporting characters was Roger Gonzales as Bugoy's father, who gets to say some pretty sensible advice about fatherhood. I was hoping He could be having more scenes with Lando and Bugoy than what he had. Special mention goes to the pretty Rachel Ann Ang Rosello as the English teacher, Ms. Emma. Her flawless English was delivered with nary a Visayan accent, which felt a little off given the very rural setting. However, she is quite disarming, especially with her scenes with Dizon.
Writer/director Victor Acedillo Jr. came up with a generally delightful slice of provincial life with this film. I liked how he tackled the various predicaments Lando had to deal with as a single father. However, after a painstakingly-executed buildup, we get a disappointingly abrupt climax that came out of nowhere. There was big development in Bugoy's character, but we do not actually see what happened to result in this change. I wish this part was not too rushed.
It was revealed before the end credits that this was actually inspired by a real-life story of one Camiguin teacher named Silvino Bajao. This fact made the whole film more worthwhile. 7/10.