“One More Chance:” Eight Years Later

A few weeks ago, Star Cinema released a teaser trailer for what could be a sequel to “One More Chance.” This time, Popoy (in a pair of ill-fitting slippers) and Basha (with her fascinating choices in haircuts) do get married, fight, and invoke some of the “hugot” lines that made the original movie endure over the years.

It’s kind of hard to believe (and for those keeping tabs on age, difficult to accept) that “One More Chance” (directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina) turns eight years old this year. For all intents and purposes, the film has become a “classic:” a term usually reserved for really old movies that pioneered cinema. Despite its age, the film has experienced a resurrection of sorts not seen since Jolina-Marvin spring notebooks and Rico-Claudine posters: not only is the film showing again in a limited release, but it has also inspired a novel. People (usually my age) still take to Twitter to announce that “One More Chance” is showing in some Pinoy movie channel.

Surely we understand the appeal of this film eight years ago: John Lloyd Cruz stood for the “tunay na lalake” trope, while Bea Alonzo represented the feelings of so many women who desire independence. In a way, it articulated the emotional milieu of a generation. But again, that was eight years ago: could “One More Chance” still stand the test of time after so many love teams, tandems, and movies that overtly sell and dispense with “hugot?”

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So I took out my copy and, with a mind more open than that required for network marketing opportunities, watched it again.

*****

For the uninitiated: “One More Chance” is the story of Popoy and Basha, college sweethearts turned lovers, facing a challenge that every couple goes through at one point in their relationship. Popoy is still very much in love, but Basha starts to resent his controlling ways and desires to spread her wings and find herself. As they break up and drift apart (with that marked “I’m so sorry” response when Popoy asks Basha if she still loves him), Basha starts to make headway in her career, while Popoy ambles about his own emotional rollercoaster.

The excellence of this movie is defined along those lines: this is Popoy and Basha’s story, and the supporting cast—from Basha’s good-friend-pero-hindi-boyfriend Mark (played by Derek Ramsay) to the Hallmark-card-poem-writing Trisha (played by Maja Salvador)—help frame the tensions between (and deep inside of) the two leads. Popoy and Basha pour their hearts out to friends and family, but never to each other until that climactic scene often invoked (and rightfully so) by so many fans of this movie.

Unlike some Filipino movies that lay drama with a heavy hand (and therefore, heavy lines), the beauty of “One More Chance” lies in its subtleties. In those scenes where Popoy and Basha still have to interact with common friends, the short but lingering glances still remind the viewer that they were once starcrossed lovers who promised each other “ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, forever and ever.” Popoy drowns his sorrows in alcohol, and in moments of reminiscence (even if it means a long drive somewhere just to see Basha for a full five seconds). Basha, meanwhile, struggles with her own decision to break up, but breaks down when she realizes that Popoy had come to terms with it, albeit still having feelings for a relationship that once was.

The cues of love lost abound: Popoy realizing that an award would go to a space in the wall that once held a picture of them together, or Basha’s feelings coming undone when Popoy bought a new car with savings once meant for “forever and ever.” And that jeepney that stops alongside them in traffic plays a long-forgotten Jeremiah song that further unravels heartstrings meant to be forever closed.

*****

“One More Chance” follows fairytales more than anything: the movie ends with Popoy coming back from abroad, and Basha falling in his embrace once more. It stands in opposition to the ending we all wanted for it: that scene on the school grounds where Popoy explains why completeness—not brokenness or need or desire—is necessary for love to thrive (and perhaps even begin again).

My guess is that the ending we wanted was way ahead of its time: the need for happy endings and closed loops were par for the course eight years ago. We’d rather have Popoy and Basha enjoy the vast company of their solitude first, their growing orbits crossing at some point, whether they become falcons or storms or great songs (if you know what I mean).

Outside of that, though, “One More Chance” is probably the first “lalake” Pinoy romance film, divorced from the damsel-in-distress-rescued-by-hero-with-guns-akimbo romantic subplot found in a macho action flick. This is a movie that men relate to: one that articulates for us the dull, sharp, and carving pains that come with being let go at our best and having our hearts broken by things that time and love would allow. This movie revealed guys at their most vulnerable: without control, without direction, and fate conspiring to make every waking moment a chance to irritate the raw wounds of heartbreak. And while loving again in the way Popoy and Basha did for each other may never be a real possibility, it’s always good to know how important it is to bare your heart open for the wounding that comes with a film like this.

*****

In today’s world, “One More Chance” is probably a contrived love story whose happy endings, and moments of reconciliation and closure, won’t sit too well with a new emotional milieu. After all, we live in a time of berlin-artparasites, #daminghugot, and amor deliria nervosa: pain—especially one felt in the heart—is resonant, and never resolved. Pain is actively sought to affirm humanity, and “happily ever after” is a childlike fantasy that’s ever so rare in a world filled with more broken hearts than ever before.

I guess that’s the reason why it has to be told again, perhaps from the lens of Popoy and Basha finally being married. This is a story that deserves resonant and persistent hurt (only because as a guy I don’t think Basha deserves Popoy—ever—but that’s my bias). But at the same time, the Popoy-Basha story is as perfect as it will get, despite that much-maligned kink in the storyline. “Loving again” doesn’t have to mean that two hearts once together have to be together—and in many ways, it shouldn’t—but anyone who has loved and lost would will fully understand the gravity of that idea by watching this film.

Sure, “One More Chance” is a love story that everyone has heard before and some have experienced, but I feel that it still has a place in tadhana-loving, hugot-obsessed times where people are often drunk in bitterness, wallowing in the miasma of agony (and if I have my way, replace it outright). Eight years later, it’s still relevant, important, and it still leaves a mark no matter how many times you watched it.

I guess the reason why “One More Chance” survives today’s changing notion of love is simply because of this: in a way, Popoy and Basha’s classic love story defined all of it.

Marck

ID for almost everything: @marocharim

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