The Philippino in the title suggests something deeper than just Philip’s story but the whole film does not, so the result does not lift the whole thing off from the common humanization of male prostitution. Mark Gil as Bastian, the call boy’s dignified lover, gives a fully nuanced performance we sometimes believe the actor and the character are one and the same. His petting of Jun-Jun Quintana does all have the tenderness, affection, longing of a true lover and not a single hint shows him dreading smooching the young actor, you sometimes ask, how come he is able to do that if he isn’t one in real life?!
The narrative between Philip and Bastian felt real and culled from the filmmaker’s personal experience. Had the thrust of the film been solely between them, it would have amounted to something commendable. But it tried to go further and thus was weighed down by its overarching ambitions. When the problems start pouring in like an avalanche of tsunami, without letup, everything is reduced to schmaltziness. And Jun-jun Quinatana, despite showing sensitivity as an actor here, couldn’t save himself from the thinness of his role. I’d like to think that Philip is basically a good man whose personal circumstances forced him into prostitution, aren’t all of them? The problem is, Philip is never a prostitute in the real sense of the word here. Instead, he is the filmmaker’s mere idea of an ideal lover. Philip is not hardened by life’s difficulties. He is never a true person. He is abnormally a weakling he sure will readily run away for dear life instead of fighting back like all hustlers do. He sells his body, yes, but he should be a priest instead.