Friday, January 30, 2009

‘NAMETS’, a film of Life, Love and Food comes to L.A.

Angel Jacob and Christian Vazquez

By Jay Fermin (FMG)

Everyone with a heartbeat has experienced the depth and passion of a good movie. You are not only sitting and watching – but you are intertwined in the story, smiling, with a flood of memories of the place, the culture, the love, and of course the food.

‘Namets’ (an Ilonggo term which means delicious) is a film by celebrated Director Jay Abello that was shot entirely in Bacolod City in Central Philippines and was one of the finalists at Cinemalaya 2008. He has worked with other directors including Erik Matti, Yam Laranas, Laurice Guillen, and Peque Gallaga (Oro,Plata, Mata) who hails from Bacolod himself. Jay’s cinematographic and photography background gave the film the mood and framing needed to seam together the playful snippets of the script into a heartwarming and sometimes bittersweet love story.

Making a movie about a place and its culinary culture is indeed a challenge. The key, Director Jay Abello confides, is in the casting. ‘Namets’ stars Christian Vazquez and Angel Jacob, two dueling chefs in the heartwarming romantic comedy. The story revolves around the character of Jacko Teves (Christian Vazquez) who tries to save his Italian restaurant from being garnished by Big Boss Dolpo (Peque Gallaga) due to a gambling debt.

The plot thickens when Cassie Labayen (Angel Jacob), another chef, is hired as a consultant to transform Jacko’s Italian restaurant into a place where traditional Negrense food is served with a unique twist. The script (written by multi-awarded Ilonggo Vicente Garcia Groyon) follows the adversarial flirting of the two chefs as they try to grasp the vast scope of the Ilonggo culinary sphere and rekindling along the way the love they had lost during their high school years.

The film is amazingly appealing inspite of the challenges of being an independent production. Shot in its entirety in Bacolod, home to all of the characters of the movie, except for Angel Jacob who is from Manila, it showcased the amazing talent that the province has contributed to Philippine Cinema including actor Joel Torre (who plays a small part in the opening scene), Director Peque Gallaga who for a change, has an acting role as Boss Dolpo in the film.

With the dialogue set in ‘Hiligaynon’, the dialect of Ilonggos, Angel Jacob had to download her lines into her Ipod and listen in; and although at times her punctuations and punch-lines were not true to form, she delivers a believable rendition of the script by her superb acting, creating a building up of love chemistry between her and ‘Jacko’ (Christian Vasquez).

Through their search for the best culinary delights, and interspaced with snippets of the Ilonggo way of dining, from the simple but world famous ‘Inasal’ (chicken barbeque) to the complex recipes handed down from generations past, ‘Namets’ lets you peak into the unique cultural mix that is Bacolod, not only thru its food but also thru its people. The movie is a must see light-hearted but heart warmed love comedy which is quite different from most movies. You will not only be watching after all. The movie will swoon you and you will be craving for more…. More love. More laughter. And most of all, you will be craving for Ilonggo food !!

The only U.S. screening will on February 7, 2009 at the historic Rialto Theatre, 1023 Fair Oaks Avenue in South Pasadena, California at 6 p.m.. Advance tickets can be purchased by calling the Babes of Bacolod at 818-636-3939 or email at
(Namets is subtitled in English)

Bon Appetit. See you at the movie.