Philippine cinema rings in the new year with two (2) of the most awaited international film releases – Disney’s sequel to a classic hit “Mary Poppins Returns” and Hasbro’s spin-off from the Transformers franchise and critically-acclaimed as probably the best “Transformers” film to date – “Bumblebee”.

Braving the industry’s hostile waters is locally produced film “Boy Tokwa – Lodi Ng Gapo” which according to producers is a “dramedy” loosely based on true events and the life of one Rodrigo Morelos who is widely known as a con artist in Olongapo and targets foreigners but loved by the locals for his loving nature, loyalty and generosity. He’s likened to a modern “Robin Hood” in Gapo.

I think the word “Brave” is a real understatement to describe what “Boy Tokwa” is to movie critics, insanely courageous would be a more appropriate term and here are some of the reasons why:

Boy Tokwa is the very FIRST film venture of VST Productions, a production company headed by actor-politician Vicente Sotto The Third (VST) or Tito Sen. While the name Tito is known all over the country, VST Productions is very much on its infancy stage and as per the experience of other production companies, going head to head with big-budgeted international films is like a potential suicide.

We’ve just had a dose of almost two weeks of local films via the Metro Manila Film Festival – and naturally, moviegoers might opt for something different for this week.

Lastly, Boy Tokwa is the very FIRST solo lead project of Eat Bulaga’s funny man Jose Manalo who takes on the role of Rodrigo Morelos. In a recent media conference, Manalo said that the pressure of going solo is really real.

“Hindi po ako ready mag solo,” he told Tito Sen when offered the role. “Pwede na kong side kick habambuhay basta nasa showbiz lang ako. Madikit ka lang kay Vic Sotto, malaking bagay na yun. Di ka na magugutom nun,” he explained during the conference.

But Manalo said that when the life story of Boy Tokwa started to sink in while shooting for the scenes, he believed that the film is worth taking all the risks and that he’s glad that he was given the chance to do it.

The film’s Director Tony Y. Reyes said that the idea of making a film about Boy Tokwa was conceptualized around 15 years ago and even has Joey in mind for the title role back then. And now, with the help of Tito Sotto, the story of the original “Lodi Ng Gapo” is finally told.

I have talked to some film critics who have watched the film prior to its regular screening last January 8 and they said that “Boy Tokwa” is not your typical comedy – it has substance, a good story – that most local comedy films lacks.

Manalo also said that while it’s not totally a “comedy” film, he assured viewers that they will all be amused with Boy Tokwa’s antics.

Boy Tokwa is distributed by Axinite Digicinema and also stars Joey Marquez, Karel Marquez, Allan Paule, Buboy Villar and newbies Sophie Rankin, Marija Debelic, Mark Savino, Zara Tolentino, Xander Pineda and two Sottos – Gian Sotto and Mino Sotto.

Here’s our interview with Jose Manalo:

Jose Manalo Goes Head To Head with 2 Big Hollywood Films
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