PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG POET IN THE SHADOW OF MT. ARAYAT
By Pablo A. Tariman
On a cloudy Wednesday afternoon with a hint of rain, one was not ready to see pure love and young love narrated from the point of view of an aspiring poet living in the shadow of Mt. Arayat.
As 100 Tula Para Kay Stella unfolds, you see the poet’s object of adoration metamorphose from special friend to object of pure love.
But the trouble is that Fidel (JC Santos) — the aspiring poet — is a typical rural good boy who wants to finish his studies before anything else. He is not one of those provincial Lotharios who believes in casual flings and certainly, he is not the kind to hop from one relationship to another.
On the other hand, Stella (Bela Padilla) is a free spirit, she wants to be a rock star and in the process, she tries one relationship to another hoping that somewhere along the new contacts, she will realize her dream.
She can see through men desiring her body but she has no qualms going to bed with anyone. Yes indeed — for as long as it would enable her to find the right contacts which will help her find a good break in the realm of rock music.
Meanwhile, Stella gets fascinated with Fidel, he who is clean and pure and yes, and so poetic. She finds his life as an aspiring poet quite interesting.
She invites him to the ladies’ room and he hesitates. It is wrong by his standard. But he relents and she realizes that he is not the kind who gives in to fleeting sex.
And as he goes through the process of offering 100 poems to her loved one, he goes through several scenarios that allowed him to see Stella’s relationship with her family.
After giving her a lodging for the night as she copes with family problems, he again turns down an invitation to go intimate. By his standard, it is wrong to take advantage of personal crisis to enjoy one-night stand.
Good writing and good casting provided the good contrast between the lead characters and their supporting ones.
There are enough scenes to make the character of the poet stand out. He stutters quite a lot but this was mostly psychological than physical. When he learns how to sing, his speaking voice becomes normal.
A wide segment of movie audiences will find this film unusually fascinating.
The older ones will most likely relate to the scenes with the characters still using cassette tapes. And the millennials ones will find that “cool” and quaint.
But the most revealing discovery is that actors Santos and Padilla are at their best in this latest romantic outing.
There is utter freshness in the way Padilla approached her character and Santos finally finds the most challenging role in his relatively new film career. In 100 Tula, he is real as a country boy and his rural virtues find their mark in his portrayal.
His most gripping scene towards the end called to mind the final section of Schubert’s song cycle, Die schöne Müllerin (Op. 25, D. 795) which is based on the poems by Wilhelm Müller. Santos’ portrayal of despair recalled the tragic story of the young man in Schubert’s song cycle.
As it is, the film ends as an idyllic, if, poignant tale of pure love, young love in the eyes of an aspiring poet.
By today’s standard, the poet’s prose are by turns juvenile, almost banal but the emotion it elicited from the characters is real and worthy of an acting award.
With highly focused storytelling from writer-director Jason Paul Laxamana, this film is another emotional rollercoaster with just two main characters gently teaching you how to laugh, fall in love, remember the past and sob in generous doses.
A superb entry in the ongoing Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, 100 Tula Para Kay Stella deserves it’s A Rating from the Cinema Evaluation Board.
It is now showing in cinemas.