The APAHM Project Day 6: The Fabulous Filipino Brothers
Film: The Fabulous Filipino Brothers
Director: Dante Basco
Release Date: 2021
Where to Watch: Hulu
Why It Made the List:
Whether you know him as Rufio or Prince Zuko or the Am Drag Jake Long, Dante Basco has been a household name in my family for years. He makes his directorial debut with “The Fabulous Filipino Brothers” which stars him and his actual brothers as we follow the fictitious Abasta family through the sons’ eyes and learn a thing or two about what it means to be Filipino.
Let me start off by saying I didn’t have exceedingly high expectations for this film. It seemed a little campy but fun nonetheless and I wanted to support Dante. That being said, it’s still a very enjoyable movie and has its funny moments! The movie follows four Filipino brothers – Dayo, Danny, Duke, and David, who are gathered at their family home to celebrate a wedding. According to the narrator, a wedding is a big event in Filipino culture. As we meet each brother, we dive into individual stories that took place prior to the wedding.
We begin with Dayo, the oldest, who is married to an East Asian woman and has kids. He agrees to pay for the food for the wedding much to his wife’s disapproval. But Dayo insists that it’s his responsibility as the eldest but also acknowledges that they are tight on money. Dayo meets with an old friend who has a deal for him. Should Dayo deliver a chicken and follow the instructions on a note, he would get some money. Turns out the chicken is meant for a cock fight. However, on the way to the fight, Dayo must pick up his Lola from her kidney dialysis because David, the youngest brother, flaked on his responsibility. Now with Lola and the chicken on board, Dayo heads to the fight and is able to inject the chicken with an enhancer per the note’s instructions. However it is Lola who helps Dayo remain calm (Dayo hates chickens) and she wins a little money on her own in the process. Dayo’s story shows that he is willing to provide for his family, even if it means doing something he dislikes, and still be responsible in the process.
We then meet Duke, the successful and “lucky” brother of the bunch. Duke goes away for business to Manila and notes it’s his first time in the Philippines. While there, he bumps into his high school sweetheart Anna and they reconnect, even being mistaken for a married couple. While both Duke and Anna are married and Anna informs Duke that affairs are illegal in Manila, the two obviously still have a lot of feelings for each other. Later that night, Anna comes to Duke’s room where they spend the night together. The next morning, Duke insists that he will leave his wife and leaves her a voicemail to call him back. Anna leaves to tell her husband she is leaving him as well. While Duke is watching Anna from his balcony, his wife calls. He remains silent on the phone, clearly at a crossroads as to what to do or say. Suddenly, Anna is fatally hit by a car and Duke tells his wife he will be late for the wedding.
Our interaction with David is brief. We simply see that he is a typical younger brother who goofs around. While at the wedding, David and a woman seduce each other, using various foods and utensils in the kitchen to suggest their lust for each other.
Lastly, we meet Danny, who never leaves the house and pours all his energy into terrible electronic music. Danny’s previous relationship ended because his partner left him for another man all while being pregnant with Danny’s baby. The man she left him for was one of Dayo’s friends. One night, David tries to have a heart-to-heart with Danny and secretly sets up a dating profile on Danny’s phone. Later, a woman insists that they meet in person and Danny agrees. He meets Theresa, which, to his surprise is pregnant. However, Danny is still interested in her and they go dancing. Theresa abruptly walks out because she is afraid of falling too fast. Danny invites her over to listen to his music and she helps the music find balance. The two kiss and the next morning, Danny introduces her to the family. Dayo is upset with David for setting Danny up with a pregnant woman and through all the squabbling, the Abasta’s parents interrupt to remind their sons it’s not always about them. Theresa realizes her water broke and everyone goes into a frenzy as to what to do.
This is when we finally meet the narrator – Dores. Dores is the Abasta sister, who claims that in most Filipino families, it’s all about the boys. Dores is a nurse and helps delivers Theresa’s baby on the kitchen table. We cut back to the wedding, at which point we may ask ourselves, whose wedding is it anyway? It is a detail that I failed to notice and I think the writing does a great job at reminding you that there is an event but keeping the bride and groom a secret throughout. We learn in these last scenes that Theresa and Danny are getting married. Danny has found his heart again and the Abasta brothers all tie up their loose ends – Duke finds out he is going to be a father, David thankfully finds out he is not related to the woman he was seducing in the kitchen, and Dayo is shown still being the responsible older brother. The film ends with Danny and Theresa driving off and Dores explaining that Filipinos are not adaptable (as previously stated) but accepting of what comes their way.
I really enjoyed this family movie! I liked the different familial roles each sibling represented. Most of the other roles are in fact played by Dante Basco’s family members. Those who are not are still Filipino, which I think is amazing that they were able to include proper Asian representation in their casting. It was a delightful surprise to see Liza Lapira, who I first saw in “21” when I was in middle school. I remember being so excited to see an Asian girl in that movie (I wouldn’t find out until years later that the movie was totally white washed and seeing an Asian face wouldn’t have been surprising if they stuck to the original story but I digress).
As I said in the beginning, I am and have been a big fan of Dante Basco. Not only is he a talented actor, voice actor, rapper (the soundtrack for this film is great btw), etc. but he really is making an effort to push for better and more representation. I had the privilege to hear his San Diego Comic-Con panel in 2015 (and take a selfie with him) and what he said about representation has stuck with me ever since. He said that often times Asians are not cast because non-Asian audiences will not relate to that character. But we as Asians have had to relate to non-Asian/white characters our entire lives. Unfortunately, the link to this panel is no longer on YouTube but it was this very panel that inspired me to advocate for more Asian representation in media.
Other things about this movie I liked were the references to Filipino foods and how their Tagalog isn’t very strong and some of the differences between Hispanic and Filipino. I liked that they all lived under the same roof with their Lola and how the parent’s emphasize that monetary donations to the local Filipino community group was not enough to stay close to the culture. I feel like all of these elements are things I can relate to as an East Asian woman as I’m sure several people of other backgrounds can relate to a lot of these things too. It shows that although this family is Filipino and their culture is unique and special, this family is not so different from mine. And through that, we are able to understand that we are all more alike than we are different.
Small Business Shout Out:
Today we are highlighting Anak Toy Kopany! This small business is owned by Filipino-American Terrence Santos and named after a term of endearment that the owner’s grandmother used to say which means “my child.” After having children and in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Santos decided to create toys for his children to learn Tagalog, as he noticed there was a lack of children’s toys that taught these languages. Anak Toy Ko. sells wooden blocks and puzzles that teach Tagalog, Ilocano, Bisaya, and Hawaiian. Shop Anak Toy Kompany here!
Reminder! I am matching donations for every like on this post and on Instagram! This year, we will be donating to CAPE - Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment.
If You Liked This, You Might Like:
The Debut on Amazon Prime for $3.99 (NB: I have not seen this film)
Bitter Melon on Tubi (NB: I have not seen this film – **TW** may depict scenes of DV)