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Txt or ‘Tula’

By: Jullie Y. Daza

Love happens. Sometimes too soon, sometimes too late. Sometimes it happens that love is unrequited, or one person has too much of it while the other, well, the other is not on the same page – as the contemporary American expression puts it, one party is just not into the other. I would be willing to bet there are more unhappy love stories than the romantic ones that end at the altar, but you know what they say, that’s where the romance ends.

There’s a bit of heartbreak in “100 Tula para kay Stella,” darling of the recently concluded Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, a smaller version of the Metro Manila Film Festival, and one reason this movie became its top grosser was precisely because it appealed to those of us who once got suckered into love, were hurt in invisible places, and learned to live another day agonizing over the monumental burden of moving on (a masochistic platitude). Without surrendering to the annoyingly trendy demand for “kilig moments” to define a love story, 100 Tula takes the not-so-poetic, no-frills path – no roses and candlelight here, only the lonely task of offering 100 poems to a girl who is not into poetry, at all. It helps that the loveliest scenes are set at the foot of misty Mount Arayat, but it’s not all right to invent a name like “Philippine Republic University,” come on!

JC Santos plays the lovestruck swain with a speech defect, and it’s not too soon to predict that this role will surely land him in the same glorious firmament as the talented Jericho Rosaleses of a slightly older generation.

Santos is younger, and luckier. With the success of unlikely winners like 100 Tula and the phenomenal “Kita Kita,” there is no doubt actors, scriptwriters and directors will be following the template set by JC the actor and Jason Paul Laxamana, writer and director of 100 Tula (yes, he wrote those poems, too). Actors will pray to play “sensitive” characters like JC’s Fidel, no need to write them into crime and punishment, dire straits, or transforming from ordinary to extraordinary in 100 minutes flat.

My secret hope is that 100 Tula will bring back, sort of, the allure of writing poems, love letters and the like in the era of txts, tweets, and selfies.