SQUEEZE Entertainment

Respeto Review: Crossing The Line

Carlo Cielo

By: Carlo Cielo | Squeeze | Published August 12, 2017 | Updated August 16, 2017


Directed by: Treb Monteras II, Written by: Treb Monteras II, Njel de Mesa, Starring: Abra, Loonie, Dido De La Paz, Brian Arda, Kate Alejandrino, Chai Fonacier, Silvester Bagadiong, Thea Yrastorza

Rappers. An emcee. Stage is dark and dim. Crowds surround them, cheer and egg them on. It’s a cage match. First one fires a bunch of taunts at whatever words a minute. Loonie takes his turn to crush and strike and maim.

The first pulse-pounding minutes of Respeto moves from the bruising street fight nature of rap battles to the actual streets, slum lords firing verses at a moment’s notice, and moves into a war against a demolition. These starting scenes, roughly about a fifth of the film, are a visceral throttle that’s worth the price of admission.

Which is brought to a screeching halt when a liberal poet shows up.


Magwala mga Ka Bersos!!! Ilabas ang mga pera!!! Eto na sila!!!August 2017“RESPETO“Directed by ALBERTO MONTERAS IIAUGUST 5 (SAT): 6:15 PM — Glorietta 4 6:15 PM — Trinoma AUGUST 6 (SUN): 6:15 PM — CCP Main Theater (GALA SCREENING)AUGUST 7 (MON): 12:45 PM — Greenbelt 312:45 PM — UP Town CenterAUGUST 8 (TUE): 3:30 PM — Glorietta 4 3:30 PM — TrinomaAUGUST 9 (WED): 6:15 PM — Greenbelt 36:15 PM — UP Town Center 9:00 PM — CCP Main TheaterAUGUST 10 (THU): 12:45 PM — CCP Little Theater9:00 PM — Glorietta 4 9:00 PM — TrinomaAUGUST 11 (FRI): 9:00 PM — Greenbelt 39:00 PM — UP Town CenterAUGUST 12 (SAT): 12:45 PM — CCP Main Theater3:30 PM — CCP Studio TheaterAUGUST 13 (SUN): 3:30 PM — Greenbelt 36:15 PM – TrinomaTICKET PRICE: 150 pesosSTUDENT PRICE: 100 pesos (Only in CCP)#Cinemalaya2017 #Cinemalaya13#August4to13 #CCPTheatersAndAyalaCinemas#Respeto #Cinemalaya2017 #bitin

Posted by Respeto on Wednesday, July 5, 2017



It’s been ten years since Jim Libiran’s Tribu hit the screens. Part of the Cinemalaya Film Festival, this was the one that brought real-life street rap to the local screens. Starring actual Tondo gangsters who know more than a thing or two about words, it’s reverberated enough to make people aware of the existence of this kind of stuff and make it culturally acceptable. Since it’s a movie that won awards.

But street rap isn’t just words. It’s a distillation of a life and a struggle that the elites don’t really see & barely get, and would most likely scoff at.

Street rap flourished. The main engine is the Fliptop Battle League. Founded by Anygma in 2010, it strengthened the musical genre in this country by popularizing the rap battles, which were then videoed and uploaded online. Like Tribu, these went viral, and turned into a sensation.

The thing about rap battles is they’re a check-and-balance, which kills the idea of hip hop as a pose. You can’t just be a rapper by wearing bling bling. You’ve gotta prove it then and there. You’ve got to stand up to scrutiny. Doesn’t matter how many rings you wear, how many girls you screw, whatever gang you’re in, or how many cars you ride. If you can’t stand a minute or two out there, you’re not a rapper. Go home.

This is a kind of intellectualism that owes nothing to Palanca winners. The idea is there’s a higher learning from outside the four walls of a school, or the textbooks they prescribe.

The point is trash talk. Not poems.


Respeto gets the violence to some extent. The problem is it doesn’t stay with it.

Abra’s character is a slum-dwelling rapper named Hendrix. His sister’s boyfriend, Mando (played by Brian Arda), is a drug dealer. One time, he made him go out and sell a packet of shabu, but he uses the money to pay for the entrance to a rap battle. His brother wants the money, so Hendrix calls on his friends to help him steal from the bookstore of the liberal poet named Doc (played by Dido De La Paz) who lives across the street. Needless to say, things don’t go according to plan, and they find themselves fixing his store as penalty. And being indentured slaves.

At this point, you’d think that, with the thug and the poet sharing a bit of common ground, they’d start to join forces, wherein the old-timer would teach him how to write, and the young Fliptopper would teach him how to update it.

This didn’t happen. What happened is a lecture on how the elders are more righteous, how their writing is superior and is the only thing that matters in this world, because they went through the horrors of Marcos’ rule.

Meanwhile, rap is the face of evil. It’s even compared with the era of Martial Law.

There’s this poet’s back story about how his wife was gang-raped by elements of the Philippine Constabulary. A similar thing happens to Hendrix’s newfound girlfriend – except this time, the rapists are rappers. Loonie is even made to represent the king of neo-fascists, as the head honcho of this gang.

And we’re supposed to accept this reductionism. Because Tokhang.

Doc’s job in the film, it seems, is to keep Hendrix away from rap battles, and in the realm of ‘legitimate prose.’

Pakinggan ang malupet na hiphop producer na si Paul Mendoza aka Klumcee ! #Respeto2017

Posted by Respeto on Saturday, August 5, 2017



The movie seems to hate rap battles, and everything that has to do with rap music.

It’s baffling how its view of rappers is stuck in the 2000s. The stage design is straight out of 8 Mile. Aren’t these rap battles held in basketball courts?

Also, the casting. Sure, Loonie and Abra are supposed to play these underground types, but it’s Loonie being Loonie and Abra being Abra. At least, Tribu had the wisdom to cast actual gangsters for their roles. Meanwhile, this one banks on Fliptop celebrities.

Why underground? What’s with the dim lights and the seedy, slimy vibe? It’s as if Pinoy rappers are nothing more than thugs who sell drugs. It’s as if the cops are just here to shoot.

And it’s as if these hoity-toity poets are the ones who are going to save us from ‘despotism,’ so they can impose their bourgeois despotism. Because they’re such vanguards of democracy. As if they want a hero’s burial.


The film sends a bunch of mixed messages.

There’s a point of catharsis later in the story, wherein Hendrix fights a fascist oppressor. This is such a distillation of where the culture’s at, where it’s heading, the concatenated tensions of the past and present folding into each other, putting lives on a knife’s edge. Always in apprehension. Always in a state of battle. You’d think this film is about the current disposition, and the folks who suffer from its boot heels.

But it’s about poems.

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