Sunday, November 1, 2009

Remembering Rene Requiestas

WHEN Eric Ramos took over as Editor-In-Chief for MAXIM Philippines early this year, he wanted a more thematic approach for the magazine. To his credit, the succeeding issues under his watch provided a lot more substance than most people would give the magazine credit for. There was still a lot to see (if you know what I mean) but there was also a lot to read about.

Personally, I thought a comedy issue for the magazine was a great idea because as cliched as it sounds, laughter was and will always be the best medicine, which in turn should always translate to good reading.

One of my assignments was a tribute piece on the late comedian Rene Requiestas. And because it's All Souls Day today, I am posting that article that first appeared on MAXIM's June, 2009 issue. And yes, because it's MAXIM, there are plenty to laugh and yes, smile about in that particular issue, so if you can, please try to grab it and other back issues still available on Book Sale and other magazine stands. Ganda Lalake! image scanned from the magazine itself.



FOR much of the mid-80’s to the early 90’s, the late, great Rene Requiestas provided the kind of laughs few gifted comedians are capable of. With his trademark toothless grin and real street smarts, Rene was a living cartoon character that looks hilarious enough to elicit instant chuckles without even saying a word.

Yes, he was the kind of Looney Tunes spark plug that turbo-charged just about any project he was involved with, be it TV series like Sic O’ Clock News (where he first got our attention) and Palibhasa Lalake (his brief stint as Tita Minerva’s crazy brother has got to count as some of the show’s funniest moments) or films that quickly became franchises of sorts such as the Starzan, Pido Dida and Elvis and James series.

According to the Internet Media Database or, the very brief film career of the one-time cigarette vendor consisted of only around 35 films from 1979 to 1993, the year he succumbed to tuberculosis. To say that Rene Requiestas continues to be missed remains an understatement as his unique brand of comedy had a lasting impact that many tried to copy (i.e. Richie D’ Horsie, Long Mejia) but was never quite duplicated as some of his more memorable screen gems will show.

Starzan: Shouting Star Of The Jungle. We all know Joey De Leon has a knack for finding and developing great talent and in Rene Requiestas, he found the perfect sidekick. In this laugh-out-loud Tarzan parody, Rene played Cheetae, loudmouth foil to Joey’s Starzan. Although more effective in small doses here and there, Cheetae was such an onscreen presence that he stole not just a few scenes but perhaps the whole movie itself from Starzan himself. When Rene first yelled, “Cheetae, ganda lalake!” followed by an echo that would reply, “Ulol! Sinungaling! Panget! Panget! Panget!..,” the film’s succeeding two sequels (Starzan 2: The Adventure Continues and Starzan III: The Jungle Triangle) were pretty much guaranteed.

Elvis and James, The Living Legends. As James Dacuycoy, Rene came out firing on all cylinders in a role that required him to not just sport a greasy pompadour but to even perform a few song and dance numbers that literally brought the moviehouses down. While Joey De Leon’s Elvis was the star of the show and its succeeding sequel, Elvis and James 2, it was Rene’s James who stole every scene he’s in. Classic sequence: When Elvis and James decided to crash a field trip wearing only their beach wear, we just couldn’t stop laughing when Elvis later carried a stiff and “frozen” James upon their tour bus’s arrival at, unbeknownst to them, Baguio City, the country's cold summer capital.

Pido Dida. Before she became a box office queen via the “massacre” route, Kris Aquino became a box office queen by legitimately eliciting laughs as Dida to Rene’s Pido in this blockbuster trilogy. Pido and Dida are orphans who grew up in the convent but later adopted by a leader of a crime of syndicate. As their adventures and misadventures continue, they later got married in Pido Dida 2: Kasal Na and Pido Dida 3: May Kambal Na. Loads of slapstick fun, this franchise proves that Rene is more than just a sidekick and can actually carry an entire movie (and its sequels) by himself.

Michael and Madonna. Made at the height of the popularity of both The King of Pop and the Material Girl, Rene is Michael to yes, Manilyn Reynes’ Madonna. Manilyn, then a cash cow for Robbie Tan’s Seiko Films was an ideal leading lady as she provided laughs of her own and together with Ogie Alcasid gave some semblance of real singing talents as well. It worked too, as Michael and Madonna 2 hit the big screen a year later, thanks also in large part to Rene’s rolling-down-the-aisle kind of humor.

Alyas Batman en Robin. Rene’s final team-up with mentor Joey De Leon turned out to be his very last film prior to his demise. Instead of playing sidekick Robin, Rene played arch-nemesis Joker who has an uncle (Panchito) that he calls, you guessed it, Tiyo Paenguin. Arguably the funniest Batman movie ever made, it is strictly played for laughs and the aptly named Joker has more than enough jokes in his arsenal to literally go out swinging. As a matter of fact, the movie has what foreigners call a bizarre ending showing Batman, Robin, Joker and Tiyo Paenguin in a “music video” performing an adaptation of Danny & The Juniors' rock and roll classic, “At The Hop.” Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger have nothing on this Joker.

And here's that "bizarre" ending of Alyas Batman en Robin:

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