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"The Debut" Of The Filipino American Life.

1407 words - 6 pages

A relevant question to ask before watching the film is "are you a Filipino?" Giggle, smile, sympathize, and maybe relate to the characters of this film if you are. Otherwise, prepare to see a glimpse of only some of the many wonderful cultures of the traditional Filipinos.Gene Cajayon's "The Debut" revolves the relationship between Ben Mercado (Dante Basco), an Americanized Filipino, and his Filipino family. Tomorrow is the big day as the family of Ben gets busy in preparing their performances for his sister Rose's (Bernadette Balagtas) debut; well, not in the case of Ben. This film starts with excellent drawings of caricatures of all sorts of people flashing across the scene. (Later it was understood that these were Ben's masterpieces.) Ben stays in his room upstairs drawing while the rest of his family prepare for the big day. Clearly, Ben is not interested in his sister's debut, and so is seeing his fellow Filipino friends attending the debut. Otherwise, he is chooses to hang out with his white friends during his sister's debut celebration.Tension arises as Ben's character unfolds. Ben loves drawing, and his passion in the field of art contradicts what his father, Roland (Tirso Cruz III), wants him to become. Roland even considered Ben's passion as just a "silly hobby", and he is not willing to waste his money in enrolling Ben in an art school which, according to him, does not assure his son a good future. "Stop it with those silly pictures of yours!" asserts Roland.The tension between Ben and his Filipino family is further magnified during the debut itself. He seems so foreign to his fellow Filipino community. He doesn't even know what to do with his grandfather's hand during the start of the debut, symbolizing that he lost his Filipino identity. Ben's character is transformed towards the middle of the film when his sister reminds him that he is "just as brown as the rest of us [Filipinos]." From then on, different things unfold as Ben eventually realizes the pride of being a Filipino.Being the first Filipino-American film, the film tries to achieve two things: first, to present the lifestyle of Filipino-Americans and the typical problems Filipino-American families face (such as cultural identity problems), and second, to bring the viewers the cultures and traditions of the Philippines, as well as some of Filipino traits and characteristics.The plot of the film helps achieve the film's first objective. Though it was rather a simple and predictable plot, the typical life of Filipinos living in America is very well presented in this film, through the life of Ben and his family. This film touches on different issues such as rebellion, family ties, and cultural identity which all Filipinos can relate to. Rebellion is excellently represented in this film; since there is oppression (Roland kept insisting that cartoons won't lead Ben to anywhere), there is rebellion (Ben secretly sells all his comic book collections just to pay his tuition fee and...

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