For Joanna, an 18-year old Fil-Am, the real world starts when she got involved in typical LA ghetto life. Despite being smart, she falls victim to her innocence trapped in the struggle to ... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
Juliana Palermo ...
Gary Estrada ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Doray / Habibi
Carlo Maceda
Peter Solis Nery ...


For Joanna, an 18-year old Fil-Am, the real world starts when she got involved in typical LA ghetto life. Despite being smart, she falls victim to her innocence trapped in the struggle to service in a highly cut-throat environment. Her antics sends her off to Manila shpere she finds the constant need to get out of. Using the Internet to get in touch with her friends in LA, Joanna starts to go through the days where her constant search for chance seems to hang on a thread. Written by ledster

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Love at the speed of though... See more »


Drama | Romance






Release Date:

27 August 2003 (Philippines)  »

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Juliana Palermo was introduced in this film. She said she had to accept the role to use the money for her physically-challenged younger brother. See more »

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Good and filthy sexxx
19 January 2005 | by (Philippines) – See all my reviews

I was pleasantly surprised that a director finally tackled the burgeoning subculture of local pornography on the Net. It was also refreshing that the story wasn't another naive girl from the provinces who sought her fortune in the city and ends up as a prostitute.

Though told simply enough, peeks into the world of internet prostitution. A Fil-Am girl (Palermo) escapes the consequences of her State-side abortion by going back to her home country.

With relatives greeting her with unwelcome arms, Joanna tries to make sense of her life and gets into the clutches of a smooth cybercafe owner (Gary Estrada) who introduces her to Web Diva.Com. She eventually becomes their big money-maker while catching a tentative affair with Spike (Carlo Maceda) -- a misguided hacker who (cheekily enough) created the Love virus in the movie.

The first thing that I noticed about this movie is its moody and threatening depiction of Manila. When it is dark, the scenes become brooding and unyielding. When there is light, the subjects cast a sick pallor, almost washed up and impotent. The cameraman also seemed to be drunk as each frame has no steady bearing. Though I know this is the vogue among filmmakers, I was initially put off by this. I'm no techie but the movie apparently was filmed on digital camera (or made to look that way). This is the same technique used by those Dogma filmmakers (see Breaking the Waves or The Anniversary Party as an example) in Northern Europe to bring out mood and character. However, as I proceeded to watch the movie, this askewed and grainy film-making style had become appropriate and fitting to the story. The dull colors and rich shadows on unkempt and filthy scenery created a certain obliqueness and gloom, which only highlighted the prevalent physical and spiritual decay of the setting and its characters.

There were also nice touches in the story that I enjoyed. There was no gratuitous rape scene. There was no histrionic scene between female characters. There was no stereotypical "Am-girl" trying to pass herself of as somebody better than her fellows. I particularly liked the idea of Joanna shopping in Quiapo instead of a mall. No real pretension here.

The script was refreshingly understated with naturalistic dialogue (except the gay assistant, Badong, who was so perky that he perfectly fit the role of the gay pimp). Speaking of the gay pimp, there was a humorous scene where Badong initiated a fire drill. But unlike the usual one, this occurs only when they feel the "heat" of the police upon their secret lair. The scene with the Survival Kit was quietly funny too.

Throughout the movie, there is also that subtext regarding this ongoing tug-of-war between the sanctimoniously myopic conservatives (represented by a cigar-chomping NBI Special Units Officer Mark Dionisio, played by Rey PJ Abellana) and the exploitative, money-grubbing technocrats (portrayed by a canny Rick -- Gary Estrada) as refereed by the media (Ces Drilon, playing herself).

Aguiluz doesn't take sides here and may tend to antagonize each of them. What he seems to be saying is that, each side seems to be no different from the other. The problem of internet censorship clashing with free speech cannot be fully balanced when it is marred with self-interest and greed.

As a side note, the idea in casting Estrada as the sleazy porn site owner was masterful. The character uses his sexual appeal and business cunning to manipulate his "talents." His father, the late great George Estregan, would have been proud.

The other subtext that I noticed was how internet porn can actually be a potent form of female empowerment. In relative terms, this is a new concept in Philippine movies. Maybe Aguiluz has read the likes of Camille Paglia and Susie Bright while noticing the explosion of female-owned porn sites in the internet. In the not-so-old notion of using one's sexuality as a base of power, we actually see that the online g.r.o.'s can actually be the ones who have the upper hand.

This is made more evident in Palermo, who makes a striking debut. She looks like a young Divina Valencia but with less attitude and more soul. It would have been easier to resort to cheesiness when she performs on the Web camera. But her restrained performance only makes the experience truly sensual and fascinating. She doesn't look like the victim. In this case, the men are.

Not entirely perfect, I overlooked the jarring cuts during the sex scenes that were meant to build tension while Spike was trying to contact Joanna at the end. I also ignored the way Joanna and Spike interacted cybersexually when they had to describe what each one was wearing when they can look into each other thru the Web cam. I was also put off with the ending, which seemed too abrupt and open-ended for its own sake. But then, the pluses, in this case, outweigh these minuses. relishes the abject alienation of a disenfranchised girl who attempts to build a life for her own while forces outside her attempt to demolish it and fail. The internet is used here as a metaphor for society's inability to be resilient in the face of social disintegration. But, can also be a tool that would mean the salvation of others. Simple in telling and visually stimulating (pardon the pun), Tikoy Aguiluz has made work that is layered with meaning on what it means to be a Filipino in this day and age.

Published in Business World, 9/12/2003

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