The title "Binyag" translates to 'loss of innocence,' and this little-known film from the Philippenes shows, very effectively, the process in which one young person loses his own innocence. A boy living a quiet, picturesque life in the Filipino province, spending his days swimming in the sea, is offered a job as a "film star" when a shady "talent scout" visits his small village. He promises the naive Leo that he can "make him a star." Leo, excited at the idea of escaping his seemingly mundane life, accepts the offer, thus beginning his journey to the city of Manila, where he will learn some
hard facts about the world he lives in.
The idea behind "Binyag" is certainly not an original one, and the story has been told before. But never in such a sensitive and insightful way as here. What makes this unique is the way the film allows the viewer to see everything through the boy's eyes, in the way he sees things. We hear his thoughts, everything he feels, and what it all means to him. Leo's soul begins to deteriorate, along with his sense of self-worth, and he shares all this through narration. "Binyag" changes gears, from a sexy, erotic film, to a more serious character study, thoroughly involving the viewer in this man's downward spiral. We also hear the thoughts of the immoral and jaded men who pick up Leo, use him for sex, make empty promises to the boy and abandon him. They joke in front of the camera, and laugh at how naive he was, and how easy it was to get him into bed. This endless succession of men seem to relish the fact that they were able to use and take advantage of the boy, and it becomes quite depressing. In the end Leo's soul is so damaged, and his sense of self worth has been completely robbed from him. Fortunately "Binyag" never becomes exploitive, or comes across as sleazy. The experiences of this man are shown with a great deal of sensitivity, as well as style.
The film is marketed as a light erotic production , with photos of a half naked man on its packaging. I'm sure that most people will not expect such a heavy viewing experience.
Running a short 64 minutes, "Binyag" manages to relay its message in a most powerful and effective way. Ran Domingo, the actor who plays Leo,
is a very beautiful 'pinoy,' and he plays his part with a haunting, subdued style. i imagine the actor's own experiences in the film business don't differ so much from the part he is playing. This short, little-known film is quite a powerful condemnation of the Filipino sex industry, and the human race. A lyrical, beautiful film from the Philippenes..
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