You know how sometimes you come out of the cinema rich with emotions about the movie you just saw? That’s what I felt today, the urge to talk and share.
In Baka Bukas, the protagonist Alex is in love with her bestfriend Jess. Things between them change when Alex is outed and finally reveals to Jess that she has always liked girls. Jess starts to see Alex differently and develops romantic feelings for Alex. The two girls become romantically linked. Are Jess’ feelings real and where is the relationship headed? What does it mean to be in love with your best friend, the straightest girl you know?
The movie explores a love between two young millenials who happen to be females. The characters challenge the Filipino stereotype of what “lesbian” is. The girls in this film do not fall into the stereotypical tomboy or tibo (butch) lesbians. Alex and Jess are feminine and live your typical twentysomething lives. Alex is comfortable with who she is and has a loving mother who supports her lifestyle and friends who accept her for who she is. The film does a good job showing how good it can be for an out female.
My only hesitation about the movie is the part where Alex describes what it is like for a girl to date another girl. She says it is just like two best friends but with benefits. This is misleading. It confirms the misnomer that a relationship between two girls is mostly platonic and asexual. Except for one kiss in a dark, abandoned, solitary room, the movie proceeds without any intimate scenes between the main characters. Nowhere in the movie would you see or feel any sexual tension. And I think the creator Samantha Lee knows this shortcoming. In the beginning of the film, Alex pitches a story for a film about two girls in love. Her storyline is outright rejected by a panel of critics. The Filipino audience is not ready to see a show with two women passionately kissing on screen. They would have to show a lot of handholding and mere implied kissing, says one panelist. This is exactly what happened in this film. What we see is a sanitized film where intimacy is limited to handholding and hugging. We do not see a progression from friends to lovers.
In spite of this disability, the film is good in all other respects. We see that lesbians are not confused about their sexuality and are whole human beings with normal struggles just like straight people do. Unrequited love is as normal as it can get for anyone, regardless of gender.