Words by Bea Lizarondo-Soliman
For those who are tired of the lackluster everyday, Filipino romantic-comedies (with its grand professions of love, its too-heartrending-to-forget one-liners, and its against-all-odds happy endings) may serve as a suitable fix!
However, while there is a long list of memorable romantic-comedy moments with the power to make its watchers’ hearts wrench, stomachs flutter, and interests heighten, there is also a long list of romantic-comedy moments that are so incredibly sappy and so incredibly unrealistic yet so incredibly overused, you can’t help but laugh! From two unlikely lovers working against the world to last-minute grand chases of passion, here are ten gasgas Filipino rom-com tropes that we all love to hate:
10. The Rich Boy and the Poor Girl
He is a wealthy and successful entrepreneur in a high-end suit while she is but a lowly, provincial girl, bending over backwards in the hustle and bustle of the city for the sake of a humble, ultra-supportive family. He eventually falls in love with her, saying that she reminds him a simpler life, but how can they ever be together? They are from two completely different worlds! The celestial alignments forbid it! Their bank accounts differ by a couple of numbers!
Accompanying this star-crossed lovers trope is the ubiquitous wealthy man’s villainous mother, who does all she can to show that she disproves of her son’s partner, and the poor female lead’s feeling of insecurity, due to her lack of social and financial power, with a matching variation of the “you-would-be-better-off-with-someone-who-deserves-you” line (by which she usually means someone with money).
9. Pretend to Be My Partner
Two characters, both that completely, even for the sake of life itself, cannot stand each other’s guts, pretend to be in a relationship for reasons that will benefit both of the characters. The usual motives for the one hiring a pretend partner are (1) to make someone else, usually a past lover, jealous or (2) to receive money from a dying relative whose dying wish is for the character to finally find true love (which is oddly specific), while the usual motive for the one being hired to accept is (1) to be paid with enough money to support said character’s family.
We must not forget that in this trope, the one being hired as a pretend partner will lay down a set of rules, which the other character will initially oppose to in disbelief, in the most dramatic manner possible–the last one of these rules being, of course, it’s forbidden to fall in love with each other, which they both eventually break. Despite the deceptive nature of the arrangement’s beginning, the relationship somehow ends with the lying lovers falling truly in love! Which I guess is completely normal and not-at-all sociopathic!
8. Comic Relief Best Friend
She is extroverted, delivers the funniest punchlines, presents the wackiest facial reactions, is dressed in kaleidoscopic clothing, and does not have an identity outside of being the female lead’s comical and trustworthy-to-death sidekick. For the majority of the film, this satellite character remains on-call and weirdly supportive of her best friend, and her lines and actions are solely to enhance the glowing halo around the female lead’s head. Despite the lack of information we know about this character, don’t you think it would be nice to see some things from her perspective for a change?
7. Boy Saves Girl
A bunch of hooligans, usually depicted by the Filipino rom-com society as dawned in monochromatic clothing and just casually hanging out in dark and smoky pathways, make indecent comments and proposals towards the female lead. When the female lead rejects or throws a snarky comment at them, the hooligans become aggressive.
Enters then the omniscient bad boy, who somehow just knows where the damsel might be and that she is in great distress! He, who at this point is possessed by the spirits of both Bruce Lee and Rocky Balboa, takes on the lecherous men in a physical fight, where he, on his own, ends up defeating the thugs–yes, all twenty-six of them.
6. Girl Attends to Boy’s Scars
For some reason, even though Mr. Bad Boy was able to come out from the fight scene seemingly scratch-less, he somehow ends up having some pretty bloody cuts that need to be seriously treated, and who else is there to serve as his personal medic and to give him professional medical attention? That’s right! The female lead!
Even though he can take a few punches to the stomach and a few kicks to the face, he winces dramatically every time his Florence Nightingale puts a washcloth to his battle scars. Next comes the dreadful line of the female lead telling him that ~he didn’t have to do what he did~, and though she disapproves of his actions, she gives him a tender “thank you” in the realization that he may not be the bad boy she thought he was after all; maybe he’s just misunderstood! (Also, this trope is a pretty good excuse to get the male lead shirtless.)