Love and Friendship: A Review of Joel Lamangan’s Tomodachi
By Patricia Simone Dauz
The film’s statement says clearly that war makes monsters out of people, and a friend can do the best that he can to show that he’s still a friend, but he will always be met with resistance and suspicion if he is on the other side.
Friendship is an important ingredient of love. Most married couple whose marriages stayed strong after so many years say that their partners are their best friends. This film starring Jacky Woo and Bela Padilla shows how friendship grows into love, unmarred by difficult circumstances, even war.
The film begins with Toshiro (Jacky Woo) on his knees and pointing a gun to his head. The timeline then changes to what it seems like a present day Manila, whereOld Toshiro (Shin Nakamaru) arrives from the airport and bumps into Old Edilberto (Eddie Garcia). The two exchange pleasantries for a while then the film segues to a 1941 Manila.
Toshiro pushes his cart around town and sells goods to people for a lower price than the usual. There is a conspicuous signage attached to his card which reads “tomodachi”, a Japanese word meaning “friend”. It’s shown that he is very amiable and understanding, willing to let people get his goods on credit when they run short of money, as shown in his scene with Aling Delia (Ermie Concepcion).
One of his regular customers is Paulina (LuiManansala). He is considered a family friend already and is almost like a brother to her son, Edilberto (PanchoMagno), the brother of Rosalinda (Bela Padilla). Rosalinda eventually catches a glimpse of Toshiro during a baseball game in which her brother is one of the players. From then on, a profound friendship develops.
The chemistry onscreen between Padilla and Woo was believable enough. At a first glance, it might not seem realistic that Rosalinda, a beautiful young maiden, would fall for a foreigner in his forties, but the two managed to make it work.
” Hindi ako nabigo sa ipinakitang husay ni Jacky Woo at Bela Padilla. Si Jacky ay isang seryosong aktor at malalim ang atake niya sa pagganap. Naniniwala ako na mapapansin lalo ang husay niya sa pagganap hindi lamang sa Pilipinas maging sa ibang bansa. Si Bela, minsan na akong napabilib sa “Felix Manalo” pero dito sa Tomodachi bukod sa napakaganda sa screen at pinakita niya muli ang husay niya sa pag-arte…”, Lamangan said proudly.
The most interesting part of this film is the way it has presented effectively the sociological effect of war on foreign relations. Toshiro has been accepted as part of the community of Sta. Cruz. In fact, when the Japanese occupation in the Philippines began and he returned clad in a uniform, people were awkward at first around him but eventually, they waved at him whenever he passed by, making him almost like a celebrity amongst his fellow Japanese soldiers.
However, war is war and everyone must choose side. Edilberto repeatedly told Toshiro to just wait for the war to end and resume his affair with his sister after the chaos is over. The two, Rosalinda and Toshiro, did not heed this, leading to a tragic end.