Jay Manalo in a Heavy-Handed Morality Tale
LAST NIGHT, after an exhausting day of teaching bored rich kids and editing two news pages at the newspaper, I came home and stumbled upon the 1996 film “Bawal na Halik” (Forbidden Kiss) when I switched on my TV and was channel surfing.
I had already seen the movie several years ago, but watching it again reminded me of how delicious the film’s main star Jay Manalo looked then, and of the fact that he is quite a good actor.
This is how he looked like a few years ago:
“Bawal na Halik” is a heavy-handed morality tale of how God punishes excessive sleaziness, in both men and women, by inflicting AIDS upon those who partake in too many pleasures of the flesh.
Starring Manalo as a macho dancer and Glydel Mercado as a prostitute/masseuse/dancer, the film was made at the peak of the AIDS hysteria, when Filipinos were finally waking up to the fact that they too could become infected with HIV. Unfortunately, the film also sensationalizes the tragedy of people infected with the virus by highlighting the irrational prejudices of the general public.
“Bawal na Halik” is nevertheless an excellent excuse of a movie to see hunky Manalo gyrating on the dance floor of a gay club, and making eyes with a young man infected with HIV.
Manalo lives in a large wooden house somewhere in Manila. His co-tenants include Mercado, the landlady and a young professional couple who have recently moved in.
Our alarm bells go off when Manalo sleazily rubs up against his married female co-tenant in a jeepney.
Next we see the hunky husband of said woman, stealing hungry glimpses of Mercado’s breasts from the second floor window of their room. At this point we know it’s going to be a sexual free-for-all, with everyone jumping in and out of each other’s beds!
All of their lives of course become inextricably intertwined and the movie ends on an excessively morbid note when the mute son of the landlady brutally hacks Manalo and Glydel to death with a huge bolo after he overhears them tearfully arguing about being infected with HIV.
Although I won’t deny that Manalo still looks good at 30, I do think that having had eight children with various women, and running away from home at the age of 12 (his parents were OFWs and he lived with his grandmother) have taken their toll on his looks.
This is how he looks now:
I still think that he was much yummier in 1996, when he was just 21.