This story was first published in the Philippine Online Chronicles.
Surprisingly, the film 1st ko si 3rd – written and directed by Real Florido for the New Breed category of the 10th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival – gave the viewers more than the nostalgia of falling in love, or rather such nostalgia we may have not used to know.
It is a story of Corazon/Cory (Nova Villa), a newly-retired government employee who got lethargic with the monotony of a senior citizen’s everyday life with her husband Alejandro/Andong (Dante Rivero). One day, Cory and her BFF (best friend forever) Maria (Ruby Ruiz) saw Cory’s first love, the fair and fit Third (Freddie Webb) before leaving the church. The sudden flashback of Cory and Third’s memories of being together some 40 years ago made Cory feel sentimental of having her first love, but it even made things more difficult.
Villa’s and Ruiz’s portrayal of child-like senior citizens reminiscing the past was convincingly brilliant. That moment when Cory was reading letters she wrote for Third all these years, though all unsent to him. That catch-up chat with Third after learning how to use Facebook. Her joining an open Zumba class with Maria. That salon makeover when Cory wanted a Rihanna-like hairstyle just after a younger customer asked a parlor staff for the same. Villa had been known as a comedy actress, but her mere facial expressions and other acts showed what a comic star could give more.
Meanwhile, Rivero’s restrained portrayal of Andong was also successful, which really brought out what Villa could do more in the movie. He showed how someone like him could highlight his wife’s extreme boredom of daily life in the house, especially in the scenes when they did nothing else but do house chores and watch TV.
While he carried the title role in the film, and while their previous onscreen tandem with Villa in a sitcom in the 1980s clicked to the viewers, Webb may have mistaken to be just a cameo actor at all.
Also, the young Third and Cory, played by Ken Chan and Coleen Borgonia, brought more kilig in the film effectively.
But what could be the films’ defining moment was Cory throwing her love letters to Third after their “first date” with Third into an open fire, and her breakdown inside the “Mercedes-Benz” which Andong just repaired. It just showed how painful it was for Cory to move on after some 40 years of separation with Third (which was caused by failing to join him in their school’s prom night after a stumble), and I think she may have realized that Third’s annulment with his wife 20 years ago might happen to her as well.
The dominant element – or props – in the movie was time, as repeatedly shown by the wall clocks in the film. It just showed how time became Cory’s enemy in two different depictions. The recurrent household jobs with Andong showed how she was extremely bored, while moments before her “first date” with Third which was showed in slow pace maybe depicted the nervousness she felt upon meeting Third for the first time after some 40 years.
1st ko si 3rd may have brought out the kilig in the first part of the film, but it also showed the pain of having to move on from the ‘first love’ after such a long time, which was quite a good show of balance. It may have shown us how nostalgia of falling in love could mean a loving desire to bring back such feeling again, but it effectively portrayed the origins of the word – “wistful yearning of the past”. It also showed how love could be hopeful at first, but frustrating in the end.
It also highlighted Cory’s problem of maintaining her relationship with his husband Andong, whom his aunt was asked to be married with her.
Speaking of which, the ending was just as frustrating as it was never expected to be. Yet, it could give viewers room for fruitful discussion after watching the film.
The most significant moral the film could provide may be what Andong told his grandnephew while fixing the “Mercedes-Benz”: na lahat ng bagay ay kaya pang ayusin (that all things can be fixed and salvaged).
PS: Dante Rivero won the Best Actor award for 1st ko si 3rd in the New Breed category of Cinemalaya X. He was praised for his “touching portrayal of a man in his sixties seeking to come to terms with his wife’s attempts a romance with an old flame.”