As a pedicab driver whose baby face is offset by a shaved head and a light upper lip fuzz, Jay Aquitania is the kind of boy-man cutie that can hold the screen by just sitting still, puffing on a cigarette. Unfortunately, he’s only the latest in indiedom’s most overused type of lead character: deep in poverty yet possessing a philosopher’s temperament of pondering over life and death in voice-overs.
There are four, maybe more, strories in Padyak that function as mini-movies in different genres. A bloody crime thriller here, a children’s cooking show there, some tragedy, some romance, and more. It’s a conceit that might have looked clever in its written form, which won third place for screenplay at the 2008 Palanca Awards. But apart from an enjoyable gay prostitution act in which Bodjie Pascua dupes the pedicab driver into cheap sex and a madcap schizo showcase starring an explosive Baron Geisler that’s so weird it’s tantalizing, most of Padyak is a plodding uphill bore. We keep waiting for the thread that will bind the mess together, and when it arrives too late at the end, it turns out to be a flimsy statement: That our fate lies not in our hands, but in coincidence, or the writer.