Nearly a year after Patintero: Ang Alamat ni Meng Patalo triumphed at the 2015 QCinema International Film Festival, the child-centered movie will have a theatrical release starting on October 5.
For the movie’s regular run, debuting director Mihk Vergara added a few more scenes that took him and the rest of the production three days to shoot.
“Para mas magka-action,” he points out to PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) in a recent interview.
“Okay naman po ako sa film last year. Pero sinabi ko naman sa sarili ko na if ever na bigyan ako ng chance na ulitin [ang paggawa ng pelikula], action talaga ang idadagdag ko.”
What’s his reaction after completing the new and enhanced version?
“Satisfied na ’ko,” Direk Mihk said with a smile.
Patintero is about a 10-year-old girl named Meng Franciso (played by Nafa Hilario-Cruz) who loves the traditional Filipino street game patintero.
Unfortunately, she proves to be quite inept in playing the Pinoy game, thus earning for her the tag “patalo,” or loser, in her barangay.
Determined to improve her reputation, she puts up a team that will compete in the patintero division of the inter-barangay sportsfest. Problem is, her teammates Nicay Chiu (Isabel “Lenlen” Frial), Shifty Alvarez (William Buenavente), and Z-Boy (Claude Adrales) don’t seem to be better players than Meng.
In the end, the movie answers how the squad of underdogs fares in the competition and who will prevail as the patintero champions.
“Matagal ko nang gustong gumawa ng film starring kids na medyo action,” says Direk Mihk, a 33-year-old film graduate from the Ateneo de Manila University who has worked as a director of TV commercials and as an assistant director in some Regal Films productions and in a few Quark Henares-directed projects.
“One of my older ideas nga was Patintero. Nag-start siya as a comic na hindi ko natapos with my friends. Comic siya dati. So 10 years bago siya naging pelikula.”
In conceptualizing Patintero, first as a comic book and eventually as a movie, the director drew inspiration from his younger years.
Technically speaking, he belongs to the millennial generation, or those born between 1981 and 1997, but he proudly states he’s had some exposure to the generation before, the Gen X.
While growing up, he recalls playing street games at daytime, and, by nightfall, computer games.
Those street games included patintero, which, for the uninitiated, is played by two teams within a square. The playing team navigates to get in and out of the square without being touched by the opposing team that guards the four lines (as well as the central line).
If the playing team successfully gets out of the square, they go on playing for another round. But if one member is touched by somebody from the opposing team, they cede control of the game.
He also remembers watching action-adventure movies with youthful protagonists such as Magic Temple (1996), Batang X (1995), and Ninja Kids (1986).
Magic Temple and Batang X were both directed by Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes, featuring, respectively, then child stars like John Prats and Janus del Prado, and Marc Solis and Anna Larrucea.
Ninja Kids was helmed by Pablo Santiago, starring that era’s young or bagets stars: Herbert Bautista, J.C. Bonin, Francis Magalona, Ramon Christopher, Keno, Ricky Rivero, Dennis da Silva, with Lea Salonga and Mia Prats.
“Nostalgia lang talaga,” Direk Mihk says, nodding. “’Yong mga movies na mga bata ang bida ’ta’s nag-a-adventure sila—’yon ang gusto kong gawin. Kaya Patintero ang lumabas.”
With the help of screenwriter Zig Marasigan and producers Dan Villegas and Bernard Dacanay, Direk Mihk was able to turn his 10-year-old comic book concept into a full-length feature film that won several awards in QCinema such as Audience Choice and Gender Sensitivity.
The funds and other support Direk Mihk generated from QCinema and TBA, which is composed of Tuko Film Productions, Buchi Boy Entertainment, and Artikulo Uno Productions, bankrolled the movie’s production and its participation in film festivals.
After QCinema, there were those in San Francisco, California and in Honolulu, both in the U.S., as well as in China.
Now, Patintero will be able to reach by a wider audience in the Philippines.
Direk Mihk explains why his first movie is a must-see:
“For the kids, siyempre may mabuting aral na mapupulot, ’tapos mai-introduce sa kanila ang patintero… For the older generation, may mga clever jokes para sa inyo diyan. And may enough action for everyone—for the kids and the older people.”