Pardon for cheating a little in my little homage for the late Dolphy. I know this would be published after his interment but still I am reminded of how he made several childhoods happy and delightful with his movies that entertained his audience. But one thing he made sure when making his movies is the fact that he could share life’s lessons. There may be laughter out there but don’t forget the lessons imbibed in his stories.
And in this vein, we come across one of his missing classics (hopefully Cinema One would have a copy to air): Omeng Satanasia. It is about a scientist played by Dolphy who accomplished a lot of things in his life except for one thing = reversing the aging process. As he threw away his shot glass in frustration, the image of Satan appeared before him offering that thing he’s been longing for.
The stroke of genius is in the casting = since Satan’s gender is vague, Dolphy took the androgynous role as well. Androgynous, yes, but still one who chose to sport falsies and raid the closet of Ms. Celia Rodriguez (Dolphy in drag during the 70′s looked a little like the great Celia Rodriguez). If you were clueless at that time who Dolphy was (fat chance, unless you’re a torrent client who stumbled upon this flick in one of your raids), you’d really whack your brains over what gender does this incarnation of Satan sport. At least the heavenly angel (also played by Dolphy) is pretty secure with his gender. Satan could have thought “Since I’m bad, I better be fabulous too” or at least the writers thought.
So during the first half of the movie, it’s all Dolphy playing 3 different characters = Omeng in prosthetic-laden old form, Satan in fabulous wardrobe and that angel whose name skips me. Very few people could manage to remain funny even when sporting different characters. Dolphy is one of those.
After Omeng used his free will to decide for himself and chose to entertain Satan’s bargain, the bargaining part was funny too. Satan thought that after a year of enjoying his newfound youth, Omeng’s soul is ready for the taking. Omeng thought “Hey, you’d just TAKE IT? No consequences whatsoever?” Omeng knew it’s dealing with the Devil, so his better judgment got him thinking that he better maximize whatever is in store for him. And so the deal went like this …
Satan: Kapag nakakuha ka ng TL, hindi na kita kukunin (referring to his soul)
Omeng: Sus, TL lang pala eh. Tulo laway lang naman eh
That banter actually sounded funnier when you see it for yourself. And it’s Dolphy adlibbing himself (Only you, Mang Dolphy).
Going back, Satan clarified that TL stands for “true love”. And if he didn’t get true love in a year, his soul is for Satan to take. Omeng wanted to have his youth restored and so he agreed.
Satan restored his youth and even turned him into a rich guy knowing that rich men find it a lot easier to pick up girls and make them fall for him. Omeng was enjoying his newfound youth and went on a dating spree. He enjoyed it … or so he thought. His rude awakening came in the form of a fling who got caught stealing his wallet. The wallet is chained to his trousers so when the chain started pulling him from somewhere, he just saw his date trying to sneak away. Right there and then, he quit womanizing and told his valet to find a decent girl = one for keeps. And enough with the gold diggers.
The moment he met the love of his life, she even slapped her. Obviously a misconception. He must have been sleepwalking when he saw in his dream who could it be, it’s just that if the woman turned out to be a real person and (to borrow a line from that Cher movie) “snap out of it”.
To cut the long story short, they fell in love. Not exactly the kind of love story you’d end up enjoying as much when there is Satan looming in the background waiting for him to fail in his conquest of love and his former valet (played by Babalu) roaming the streets of the metro trying to find his old master. Worse, love came a little too late and saying goodbye became difficult for Omeng. How can you explain to your girlfriend that you’re not the man she loved? That he is not what she thought she is LITERALLY? What if she witnesses his speedy aging process once the calendar eventually comes full circle of a year? He had to concoct an alibi about “going away”.
Dolphy is an underrated actor = one whose dramatic chops often get ignored simply because of the “comedian” label. The moment he bade adieu to the love of his life Rosario (played by Azenith Briones), it was heartbreaking. It was even followed by a heart-wrenching prayer by the Church minutes before he reverts back to old age. You can feel the sincerity of this man who is asking God for forgiveness for dealing with the Devil out of his obsession. No histrionics, no loud declarations of love and forgiveness by the altar, just Omeng kneeling before God asking his forgiveness and praying that hopefully Rosario may forgive him too for getting dragged into the mess he made.
Just when everyone including me is so taken away with the heart-breaking circumstances surrounding this doomed love story, Dolphy hits a punchline.
Rosario was looking all over the place for Omeng and ended up in Omeng’s old home where his old valet was too happy to see him again after going MIA for a year. She eventually found Omeng, only she didn’t know it’s Omeng all along.
Rosario: Hinahanap ko po si Omeng
Omeng: Alam mo kasi … ako ang kanyang lolo
Rosario: Mano po
Omeng: (albeit shocked, he just let her kiss his hand) Kaawaan ka ng Diyos (turning his face away from her and looking at the camera with a half-pained half-amused facial expression, not knowing what to do next)
Among the films that Dolphy made, for a movie that top-billed Dolphy and was marketed as a comedy, this film has the saddest ending. It’s a classic case of so near yet so far. Lovers who found each other yet only one of them knew of that fact because he’s hiding the painful truth from the woman he loved so much. Omeng was spared of an eternal life in hell but is cursed for the rest of his life away from being with his one true love.