|Hagkan Mo Ang Dugo Sa Kamay Ni Venus|
Perhaps, it is because Manuel Cinco is not a woman that he is able to form a discourse on stories revolving around women. Perhaps, it is because Manuel Cinco is a man that it is refreshing to see his ability to put women in our city in a new light, in an acutely seering light that is part surreal. The core of Hagkan Mo Ang Dugo Sa Kamay Ni Venus (El Oro Films International, Inc.) is fairly simple. This theme about women has been abused by mainstream cinema to the point that instead of giving voice to these women, those films simplified the issue at the level of the personal. Cinco's language is never about simplifying and the simple. Something odd and daring comes in the narrative. The woman, Venus (Elizabeth Oropesa) who is not treated right by her husband Agustin (Ronaldo Valdez) desperately convinces old flame Benjamin (Ricky Belmonte) to leave the priesthood but he turns her down. The woman is hapless and helpless with the fact that she has nowhere to turn to, not even Benjamin's lusty brother Artemio (Tommy Abuel). In a fit of dementia and despair, Venus shoots Benjamin, it is an extended scene, reeking of dementia, distressing the viewer with its lack of logic. But where does logic reside in spaces where men are doomed to dominate and women are fated to be punished for breach of conduct only men can judge? And so there is Venus, crying and running for her life. It is an annoying act only for those who have other solutions. Venus would soon find out that like many other women, the chances of happiness and being understood in this world are few, if not absent.
Manuel Cinco's Hagkan Mo Ang Dugo Sa Kamay Ni Venus takes off from this absence of choices, swings the narrative about women from the prose of the male-ordained world and its ready explanations into the poetry of feminism, ravishing with its possibilities. This was a grand decision for the director and one that wins for him a touching and unique way of viewing women and the men who make their life real and unreal. In the world of Venus, no one can help her. This is the real world and one that demands that Venus should assume her feminine role deliberately. But it is also a world not ready for her that deliberate act. She approaches Benjamin, now a priest and we just overhear their observation for a while. The camera is unsettling because it stays from afar. When the camera draws near, Benjamin tells Venus that he is incapable of doing anything. Cooped up in that space created by man, marriage and morality, Venus has no other place to go. Now, here is my problem, I sense a terrible miscasting in the film. Elizabeth Oropesa, Ricky Belmonte, Ronaldo Valdez and Tommy Abuel appear to inhabit different performance spaces. The energy of Valdez does not seem to match the vigor of Oropesa, which in turn is too much cinema and its requirement for nuances. Belmonte has developed mannerisms that are distracting. Abuel is the most competent performer of the male leads. Sometimes, the four actors come together to produce strong impressions. Most of the time however, their scenes tend to have intermittent effects and not the sinuous sensation that come from a weaving of characters. Fortunately for the film, the filmmakers finally are able to go back to the wellspring of Filipino narrative. They also discover the inversions and the tricks and even the politics of the early storytellers, that even unseen spaces are imagined by men who believe they own their women.
Directed By: Manuel Cinco
Screenplay: Manuel Cinco And Rico Bello Omagap
Cinematography: Edmund Cupcupin
Music By: Ernani Cuenco
Film Editor: Augusto Salvador
Production Design: Manny Jurado And Boots Plata
Produced By: El Oro Films International, Inc.
Release Date: June 24, 1977
Release Date: June 24, 1977