Award-winning film 'Latay' tackles battered husbands, for a change

Multi-awarded actor Allen Dizon (right) and Lovi Poe star as Olan and Lori in 'Latay' (Battered Husband)

A man being battered by his partner or wife will surely raise eyebrows from people, but there are actually increasing reports of it happening in Philippine society. The statement comes from indie director Ralston Jover who tackles the subject in his award-winning film "Latay" which will finally be shown in theaters on Feb. 8.

Jover noted that a simple search on Youtube or Google for the phrase "battered husband" will reveal a lot of real-life drama among Filipino couples. This inspired the creative team to pitch the idea to BG Productions International which eventually produced the movie.

"Latay" earned for Lovi Poe and co-star Allen Dizon the Best Actress and Best Actor Awards, respectively, at the 10th International Film Festival in Manhattan, New York. It has otherwise won a number of recognition from other foreign filmfests, notably in Europe and India.

Jover pointed out that a man's joblessness or inability to provide for his family makes him helpless and often triggers the woman to abuse him. This is portrayed in "Latay" where the leading character Lori (played by Lovi) is forced to work abroad and at the same time gets jealous because she caught her husband Lando (Allen) meeting with his ex-girlfriend.

In a media conference after the screening of "Latay" at the Gateway Cinema in Cubao, Quezon City, the cast of the movie all agreed on one solution: to get out of a relationship once it gets violent or toxic.

Giving his opinion on the lesson that can be derived from the movie, Allen said: "Siguro maghiwalay na lang para wala ng away. Hindi ko ma-imagine na saktan ang asawa ko kasi walang kalaban-laban ang babae eh. Kung me problema kayo, pag-usapan na lang ng maayos kesa magbugbugan. Hindi kasi tamang idaan sa sakitan eh."

(It's better for a couple to separate to maintain the peace. I can't imagine beating my wife as women are often helpless. When there's a conflict in the relationship, it's better to talk things out rather than physically hurt each other. It's not right.)

Latay's movie poster shows the awards and numerous recognition it gained from film festivals abroad

For her part, Lovi said: "Mas tatanggapin kong ako na lang ang masaktan kasi ayokong bitbit ko sa konsensya ko na ako ay nakasakit ng ibang tao."

(I prefer to be the one hurt because I don't want to carry the guilt of hurting another person).

Veteran actress Snooky Serna plays the role of Lovi's controlling, tough-talking mom in "Latay" which is a departure from her character in real life.

Snooky was mentioned in news reports before as having been "battered" by her former partner. She reflected on her experience and remarked that in some cases of abuse, "it takes two to tango."

"You see, there's also such a thing as provocation. Ask yourself if you did something to provoke your partner. I acknowledge that I made some mistakes in the past. It was a learning experience. However, I am just happy and thankful that it's over now. I have found my Prince Charming (her fiance, businessman Ramon Villarama)," Snooky intimated.

She added that physically hurting a loved one " will never be right."

"Battery is a no-no in any form, whether you do it to a man or a woman. It's criminal, it's a moral offense, a spiritual dilemma. It's not a thing that we should be proud of or brag about," Snooky said.

"Latay" also stars Mariel De Leon and Soliman Cruz, with Ferdinand Lapuz and Dennis Evangelista as its producers.