Namets! (2008)

20140107-194827.jpgNamets! is a palatable take on romantic comedy showcasing an act of culture, history, and meaning through servings of Negros food.

The film is directed by Jay Abellana and features Christian Vasquez and Peque Gallaga, all three of which are proud Negrenses.

Jacko (Christian Vasquez) loses ownership of Puccini’s, an Italian restaurant in Bacolod, to a gambling lord/foodie Dolpo (Peque Gallaga) but Dolpo likes Jacko’s cooking enough to let him remain as the chef on one condition: he gets to work with food consultant Cassie (Angel Jacob), his former girlfriend. Cassie suggests to change the Italian servings to Negrosanon food, giving Jacko the impression that she’s trying to get even but their journey together leads him to discover his heart’s desires.

Satiating most frames with vignette, Namets! touches on the importance of locally produced goods in achieving the taste of their delicacy. The film succeeds on the food aspect but it has difficulties facing its romance angle. This can be particularly seen in the ending where the relationship takes a 360 degree turn, hence creating love as the “solution”.


“What do you think will they order?” “I give up.” “That table will order breasts. The other table, thighs.” “How do you know? You’re prejudiced.” “Rich people prefer white meat so they order breast. Thighs are for the adventurous ones because it needs to be eaten using hands.”

Although the intention to promote Negros cuisine is there, it is evident that the coherence and weaving of story shows the lack of budget but the thespian skills of the cast provides a much needed charm that holds the narrative together. Christian Vasquez is a compelling leading man whose transformation shows him as a fickle minded college student to a firm and passionate adult. Meanwhile Angel Jacob is a sophisticated, modern woman whose opinion often contrasts Vasquez’s, therefore bringing energy to their chemistry. And then there’s Peque Gallaga as the gambling lord with a kid’s heart. One scene involves him dipping his feet on the swimming pool, seeming to be oblivious to what Jacob is saying –he mixes innocence and leadership in an unexpectingly good way. Also featured was Dwight Gaston who carries himself really well by playing as the sometimes tough but oftentimes funny sidekick to Gallaga. And of course, the scene stealer Ronnie Lazaro who is involved in a sequence where he is about to chop off a chicken’s head to eat for later but fails in doing so, then he moves on to the goat, then to the dog, all of which he unsuccessfully kills because his son cries and pleas to spare them as he considers the animals as his friend. That scene is a gem on its own, definitely one of the film’s highlights, even close to stealing the main plot.

Moreover, the film is enjoyable despite its predictable plot. Sometimes it even dares to be trivial (see sample quote in the photo caption above), but it’s one film best viewed at the comfort of your home TV screen.

Rating: 6/10

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