Let's Talk About Ka Paeng in 'Ang Pangarap Kong Holdap'
by Jace Amodo, April 11, 2019 3:33pm
Still from Ang Pangarap Kong Holdap trailer
Take away the action-packed heist and the comedic dialogue, and the premise is clear: Ang Pangarap Kong Holdap is a film about the importance of communication and validation.
Directed by Marius Talampas and distributed by Octo Arts Films, Ang Pangarap Kong Holdap revolves around Eman (Pepe Herrera), a frustrated mugger who can't seem to follow the footsteps of his father, Ka Paeng (Pen Medina), a legendary thief in the fictional Barangay Husay.
Ka Paeng manages all the gangs in Barangay Husay full-time, getting his hands dirty only with big-ticket gigs like robbing banks and what-have-you. As a man of high regard in the crime ring and a single parent, he unintentionally puts pressure on his son. To be related to Ka Paeng is anything but chill, and that’s what the film portrays in our protagonist.
The Dumbest Thieves
Eman leads a unit composed of Carlo (Jelson Bay) and Toto (Jerald Napoles), and together, they make the dumbest thieves of the district—a huge deal, given the barangay is home to various groups of criminals in Manila. They’re the only mugging crew who thinks they can scare people into giving their items by pretending to be ghosts or threatening them with a bread knife.
Their fate takes a turn when Ka Paeng recommends an amateur thief Nicoy (Paolo Contis) to hopefully ease their crew away from further embarrassments, and towards successful hold-up attempts. The addition doesn’t sit comfortably with the group as it not only breaks the three-member group tradition but also appears as a special treatment from Ka Paeng.
“wala namang grupong nagkaro'n ng apat na members...never” - Toto, on having Nicoy as an additional member to their trio.
Desperate to be welcomed with open arms and eager to fulfill his agenda, Nicoy proves himself by mugging someone with a devious mind control modus a.k.a. budol budol (you bet Eman and the gang believed it), and again presents an opportunity of a lifetime when Eman was at the edge of giving up his mugging career. With an encouraging speech and a little bit of a melodramatic rendition of "Yakap" by child star L.A. Lopez, Nicoy motivates Eman, and the crew sets on a heist that'll earn them the title of "best holduppers in town." The fuel? Ka Paeng.
Cat and mouse
Their quest for redemption revolves around the “Golden Phallus,” an ancient relic molded from Datu Puti’s sexual organ, unearthed by a group of farmers and prefaced in Manila by Nicoy’s girlfriend, Marga (Kate Alejandrino). If you think about it, Ang Pangarap Kong Holdap is like a big dick joke, and it works. It works because, in real life, it’s hard to believe there’s a real 10 million peso-worth penis-shaped antic—giving most of the film’s dick jokes a pass in our criticism.
The film doesn’t shy away from introducing us to various characters—a horny businessman, a hungry loan shark, plenty of holduppers—and it does so without creating confusion, thanks to the film’s well-paced narrative and camerawork.
All cat-and-mouse bits aside, Ang Pangarap Kong Holdap packs an emotional gut-punch in its most poignant scenes. Ka Paeng didn’t intend to put pressure on Eman; like most fathers, he doesn’t show his affections to his son in the most expressive manner. Ka Paeng’s expectations are far from what Eman interprets—to him, his father’s acceptance and approval is everything.
The real premise
Eman wouldn't be in his chosen path had Ka Paeng affirmed his son sooner or later, not with a pat in the back but with a recognition that goes something like: "I'm proud of you, anak." Although not too distant, Ka Paeng mirrors real fathers who are too timid to talk about personal feelings directly. Ka Paeng as a father uses humor and acts of service to drop hints. By the time Eman realizes how his father thinks of him, it was already too late.
Pen Medina is well convincing as a person of authority and a father of someone like Eman. Pepe Herrera is equally persuasive in giving Eman much personality as a dedicated son and a frustrated robber. The two characters reflect a father-son bond with unspoken expectations from each other that leaves both suffering from uncertainties of masculinity, which is stronger on this one because of the environment they live in. As with any commonality many people can relate to, the plot of Ang Pangarap Kong Holdap earns its uniqueness by presenting it through the film's setting.
“Ka Paeng and Eman reflect a father-son bond with unspoken expectations from each other that leaves both suffering from uncertainties of masculinity.”
Ang Pangarap Kong Holdap may not be the perfect candidate to preach the acceptance of family and of one’s self, but with its fresh breath of comedy-action, it so deserves a watch (and, well, more cinema slots). From the moment the farmers unearth a golden penis relic in the opening sequence that'll later be the object to build up to the climax (no pun intended) to the part where every group involved in the heist is under one roof, Marius Talampas fulfilled his mission to bring laughter to the audience.
Ang Pangarap Kong Holdap doesn't aim to change the way you think about criminals but merely uses the setting as a backdrop to the story that most of us can relate to. A story, an issue that plagues many Filipino homes to this day, often neglected and left loose. Ang Pangarap Kong Holdap is an impressive debut not only for the director but also for the hardly tapped premise.