For years now, Jose Manalo has been making people laugh as a mainstay in the longest-running noontime show, Eat Bulaga! He is still part of the Sunday musical-comedy program, Sunday PINASaya, which premiered in August 2015.
Jose, who turns 53 on February 12, also provides the jokes and punch lines in movies either as a sidekick of actor-producer Vic Sotto or in tandem with his fellow comedian, Wally Bayola.
Finally, Jose gets solo top billing in Boy Tokwa: Lodi ng Gapo, which opened in cinemas last January 8.
And he gives all he’s got in this movie based on the true story of Rodrigo Morelos, aka Boy Tokwa, who, in his prime, was known in Olongapo City as a con artist to foreigners but a hero to the poor locals.
Boy Tokwa’s life story unfolds in the movie long after his death, when his U.S.-based grandson Andy (Mino Sotto) travels to Olongapo City and meets Boy Tokwa’s relatives, friends, and neighbors.
Andy learns from those people, including Joey Marquez’s character, that Boy Tokwa was a gang member, whose dream was to go to the U.S. but ended up in Olongapo City in the 1960s.
Boy Tokwa wanted to turn over a new leaf, so he surrendered to the police and made friends in prison.
After he was released, he met and fell in love with an American Naval officer named Patricia “Pat” Woods.
Boy and Pat got married and had a daughter they named Annabelle (Karel Marquez). The family of three led a happy and peaceful life until Boy went back to being a con man.
Jose Manalo ably brings life to Boy Tokwa’s colorful personality. He’s funny even while tackling over-the-top scenes and his dramatic moments will tug at the viewers’ heartstrings.
The lead star also works well with the actors playing his pals, particularly Joey Marquez, Allan Paule, and Jelson Bay. They all look having fun like a true barkada.
Fans of JoWaPao, the trio made up of Dabarkads Jose Manalo, Wally Bayola, and Paolo Ballesteros, are in for a treat as Wally and Paolo make special appearances in the movie.
Tony Reyes directed Boy Tokwa: Lodi ng Olongapo as the initial offering of Senator Tito Sotto’s newly-formed film outfit, VST Productions.
Just like the use of the millennial term “lodi” in the title, which is the reverse form of the word “idol,” everything else heralds back to Boy Tokwa’s time in the 1960s.
Yes, kids, as you all know now, using the reverse form of certain words to sound cool has been in practice since your elders were kids themselves.
Direk Tony made this 2019 flick the way he did his past directorial jobs, including those starring Vic Sotto (such as the Enteng Kabisote film franchise) and Joey de Leon (like the Starzan and Barbie movies).
The style and look are the same, so the movie feels so dated, and not because it’s mostly set in the 1960s.
But there are a few topical jokes, some of which have references to the 2018 blockbuster, The Hows of Us, starring Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla, aka KathNiel.
“What happened now to the hows of us?” Boy Tokwa asks his wife Pat in their breakup scene.
Pat answers, “How is that sorry different from all other sorrys before? I won’t let anybody ruin my life again.”
In depicting Boy Tokwa’s modus operandi, some scenes come off hilarious while others seem awkward.
The way Boy learns how to fake U.S. dollars from his fellow inmate (Wally Bayola) is quite entertaining.
However, the scene with Boy selling used panties of old bargirls to foreigners in the U.S. base (and telling them that those parties were worn by young bargirls) screams sexism.
Jose Manalo’s fans will enjoy Boy Tokwa: Lodi ng Gapo, and watching it is a big boost to his first solo movie. Viewers will also get to see a different side of Jose when he delivers his dramatic scenes with painstaking sincerity.
Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial team.