Fernando Poe Jr. has hair that you could break a board on, each strand like a tiny, pomaded bicep. I could say that this is the reason for his god-like status in his home country -- but I have yet to discuss the sideburns, lush and verdant, forging ever onward toward the hard, masculine mouth. Am I envious, you may ask? Well, let me put it this way; time and circumstance have left me with hair of a downy softness, my head to the touch like that of a duckling. This may qualify me for inclusion in some kind of human petting zoo, but in a follicle against follicle cage match, Fernando's do would literally mop the floor with mine.
Alupihang Dagat, I touched upon FPJ’s iconic status in the Philippines. And in the years since that review was written, that status has been given further testament with the erection (word?) of a statue in his honor in Manila last year. Like that statue, Ang Panday, based on a comic book by Carlo J. Caparas, is an integral part of Poe’s legacy, a hugely successful film that spawned a trio of official sequels along with various knock-offs, remakes and, of course, spoofs -- because, in the Philippines, you’re no one until Dolphy or Joey Deleon has made a dumb pun out of your name. In the process, Poe -- who produced, directed, and starred in the film -- created a character that etched his role as a dedicated populist and hero of the people into the pop cultural DNA of his homeland.
In addition to some impressive muscles and a wardrobe full of sleeveless shirts in which to display them, Flavio also has a makeshift family of sorts. This includes his girlfriend Monica, played by Dolphy discovery Liz Alindogan, a daft old coot named Pilo (Paquito Diaz) and Lando, a kid, played by popular child star Bentot Jr., who we also saw as the sidekick/brother to Vilma Santos’ Darna in Darna vs. the Planet Women. It is Pilo who sets Ang Panday’s origin story ball rolling when, after an earthquake, he stumbles across an ancient tome that has been unearthed. Now, because I watched Ang Panday without subtitles, I can’t tell you what was in that tome, but I’m going to guess… hmmm… prophecy? I say this because when, a couple scenes later, a meteor crashes to earth in Flavio’s backyard, he knows exactly what to do with the molten metal inside.
Darna at Ding), is that they were not. What I do know is that Fernando Poe Jr., being a populist, was well aware that what the people wanted -- along with freedom from tyranny, the right to pursue their dreams, and affordable food and shelter -- is not to be bored by overly preachy movies masquerading as action films. And so, with these sequences, he pulls out all the stops, in the process flooding the aisles of the Philippines’ movie theaters with the urine of terrified school children (seriously, that vampire lady is hella sceery).
Now, do you want to pet my head?