Thoughts after watching "Gagay"
(Or how this person revisited a familiar 90s-era movie)
It's been years passed since this writer had watched this kind of movie. Not because of being a part of that generation, most of its scenes somehow reflect what everyone once endured those times, tempered with humor, some romance, and a twist of engineering feat no matter how crudely made such as Gagay: Prinsesa ng Brownout.
This is a "Cinderella story" made for the brown-out plagued late 80s to mid 90s generation in the Philippines. As Ringga (played by Gelli de Belen), usually known by her nickname Gagay, and her impoverished family gathered wood which they made into charcoal for a living. Though they were poor and working for food, they have goals that somehow a typical poor family would like to achieve.
But things really took a turn for the better when Gagay and her wacky brothers John, Paul, and George, invented a coal-powered generator known as the "Wonder Uling Generator" given the continuous brownouts and tired of kerosene lamps. Their actions almost cost their savings and even their house that made Aling Timang (played by Tessie Tomas), her mother, resort to take down the bamboo pole that also acted as its coin bank. But with the invention succeeded and its subsequent impovements, they became instant rich and Gagay was turned into a raving beauty with her once coal-stained fingernails given a makeover.
However, money isn't enough for Gagay to make her happy. During her impoverished days, Raul (played by Rustom Padilla), her friend, fell in love with her. However his father, Don León (played by Leo Martinez), disagreed with the relationship knowing that Gagay was poor and ugly. Ironically, Don León was once a suitor of Aling Timang, and dumping him for another made he initially disagreed with the relationship. Raul used to run an establishment that sells generators, but with the popularity of the "Wonder Uling Generator" comes a reversal of fortune that even made Don León fell ill. Gagay, although reluctant in having a renewed relationship with Raul, agreed and even helped his father recover, thus winning the trust of the latter.
There are several scenes that made that story well known in that generation, but come to think of this, despite being shown as a comedy, it smacks of the reality during that said period such as continuous brownouts. Those times somehow meant a need for a generator for light, ventilation, and even entertainment with their radio and television sets, but generators were quite expensive that only middle class and the rich afford to buy it. Gagay's action smacks of science fiction, given the idea of inventing a generator using charcoal for a fuel; quite strange and really different from the usual science fiction movies of the west, that even though poor, they afford to create given the situation the way one quote says "necessity is the mother of invention." Especially that since they afford to create charcoal, and inspired by existing generators of that period, they resort to create something that runs on what they create and sell.
But as the movie was made for the Filipino audience, besides those of having perchance in comedy, it really involves Filipino sensibility. Stronger family ties, hard work, resilience, and love is emphasised much in every scene, that somehow made this writer think that the director and his creative team afforded to put some science fiction, Filipino sensibility, and social realism in a typical movie genre of the 90s era like Comedy.
But this writer doesn't know if that movie does have a following of sorts, or those who able to watch and remember scenes in that movie. Maybe the 90s generation can able to recall those scenes the way they want to bring back good old comedy in the silver screen.
Screenshots from Youtube