Tulak

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Exploring the seamy underbelly of the drug trade, and the people who inhabit this world at its lower rungs, is what indie film Tulak is all about. Directed by Neal “Buboy” Tan, based on his story and screenplay, and line-produced by Maria Isabel Lopez, the film is presented in cooperation with the Dangerous Drugs Board and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. The film stars Rafael Rosell, and there are special screenings planned, the first I know of being April 30 at SM Cinema 8. The film opens with a group sharing session at aDrug Rehabilitation Center, and as we focus on Tikboy (Rafael), the story develops into an exploration of Tikboy’s life trajectory — how from the age of seven, with his parents dead. He was taken in by an aunt (Maria Isabel) and uncle (Julio Diaz), and used as a runner/pusher for his uncle’s little shantytown dealing. Said uncle is a small-time pusher, a corrupt lower level policeman, ready to sell drugs and sex (his own wife) without the slightest bit of compunction — and it’s this sordid world that we are introduced to, as seen through the eyes of Tikboy. We then fast forward 15 years, and Tikboy is being released from jail, into the care of a gay benefactor (Fanny Serrano), and the plotline becomes one of “mission” — of Tikboy saving his aunt from the clutches of addiction and her own husband — whose role in life has gotten even smaller and meaner. Various characters flit in and out of this scenario, the real constant being Rafael’s character. From debonair leading man, to A.S.A.P. mainstay and dancer, Rafael has always been ready to shed off his gwapo image and take on roles that require him to go grimy and anti-hero. This is one such instance, and to his credit, he embraces the role with gusto — as do the other artists involved in the film. Giving a human face and back story to addiction, exposing the abject misery that is companion to this world of drugs, while treating the victims with compassion, and making the story dramatic and...
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