He has saved the world (and Enkantasya) from various villains, monsters, menaces, the evil Luka (reference: Okay Ka Fairy Ko The Movie 1 and 2), and even from his own occasional misadventures.
He entered our lives through the TV set, and we found ourselves wanting to be part of his fictional neighborhood. We wanted the Butingting shop to be next door. We wanted to be able to say “hi” to him on our way to the MRT station.
To some of us, he wasn’t just some character on a TV show. We grew up with him – and Pipoy and Bale and Amy and Aiza and Faye and Ina and Prinsipe K. For better or worse, he has shaped our generation.
OK, at the very least, Enteng, every Thursday night, would save us from TV boredom and stupidity.
Now, he is the one who needs saving — from us.
From the grimy clutches of our own culture’s commercialism.
Allow me to justify this call for a crusade.
Enteng Kabisote has earned a spot on the pantheon of Philippine Heroes – a space among Panday, Captain Barbel, Bernardo Carpio, and Darna. Fiction has transcended to Myth. He can cross over from pop-culture icon to a research paper topic. In a way, he can be understood as who the Filipino Father aspires to be: “simpleng tao,” mapagmahal sa pamilya, may maganda at maarugang asawa, works hard through an honest living (The Butingting Shop), kind to his neighbors, humorous, brave when needed, once in a while he saves the world, and – he can balance his own will against his mother-in-law’s powers.
He can also be seen as the Triumph of the Tagalupa (as he is so “lovingly” called by Ina Magenta). The powerless stopping all powers-that-be.
Those, and many other angles, I think, can explain why he have cheered for him. That’s why we watched him for so long. That’s why we went in droves to watch the original Okay Ka Fairy Ko Movies (Parts 1 and 2). That’s why we watched the first Enteng Kabisote Movie and swooned in nostalgia in some parts. That’s why we probably even forgave the second movie. That’s why it probably topped the box office charts. But came the the third. The tie-ups with other Metro Manila Filmfest winners. Then it became weirder and weirder (that’s a lot considering it’s already about fairies and such). Then it finally ran into a wall and ceased being number 1 at the box office.
Maybe it’s because somewhere along the way, we felt like some Encantada was dragooning us into buying a cookie-cutter movie. Something you’ve seen and laughed at before, but never mind, pay for it again. The story lost its sparkle. Its quality lost its luster. Even its humor was getting stale.
I am concerned because it’s starting to feel as if he never meant anything to us.
True – he is a product of commercial entertainment, and that remains to be his purpose. But is that all he is to us?
I’m not asking that we go all-Tolkien on something that is so accessible to everyone. The last thing we need is to overcomplicate Enteng. I guess all I’m asking for is that we treat Enteng, his story, and our audience, with a bit more respect. Let’s realize that he belongs to the entire nation now. Let’s also realize that our people is smart enough to recognize canned goods on movie screens. I hear some highly-esteemed movie producer muttering in the background…”Pero yan ang gusto ng masa, iho…” Save it. If you really had the people in mind, you would have made better movies in the first place. You would not have condensed Enteng into a mere formula, subjected to several trials like a lab experiment, combined him with different formula (the confusing plots with Agimat and Tanging Ina and now with an environmentalist), and made Frankensteined movies. You would have given Pinoys something to really laugh about and enjoy and talk about with their families during the holiday.
In this latest Enteng iteration, the enemy was a giant alien octopus (don’t ask why). It wanted to destroy everything in sight. It had a foul stench. At the movie’s climax, it had Enteng Kabisote, the hero of multiple worlds, coiled in its grimy tentacle.
That is where Enteng Kabisote is today.
We are that Octopus.