Pamanhikan: The Intersection of Tradition, Religion and Culture in the 21st Century

Angelo Santos' award-winning screenplay, “Pamanhikan” tells the story of an engaged couple’s parents meeting each other for the first time. The old pamanhikan tradition is still common in many Filipino communities.  Santos’ film, however, depicts pamanhikan between a same-sex couple in New York City.

I sat with Angelo earlier this week at a coffee shop on a rainy evening in Manhattan. We had a lively conversation, ranging from topics on Filipino traditions, religion, LGBT culture, the distinct Fil-Am culture, and most importantly this groundbreaking project that will spark conversations for its depiction of a very hot topic.

Santos, who identifies as part of the LGBT community, shared his inspiration behind “Pamanhikan” – New York State’s recognition of marriages between same-sex couples.  When asked why the idea for the film, which started roughly two years ago, came back to life, Santos simply replied, "It's time. I want to … tell the stories that need to be told. I hope it starts the conversation in Filipino families (with gay children) that we can talk about sexuality and same-sex marriage because it's a reality."

Drawing from his experiences at Filipino weddings, a cousin's pamanhikan, and his own Filipino upbringing, Santos wants to portray Queer Filipino men from a different lens. "I want to change the perception of the effeminate laughingstock that is seen in gay characters in many Filipino films and shows ... Gay characters are mostly comic relief."  

By changing the perception of the Gay Filipino Man, Santos has several other aims in mind. One is to open dialogue on same-sex marriage and relationships in Filipino households, and to bring to light the dynamics of the relationships between a gay man and his father, his partner and his mother.

Santos’ film also sheds light on other interesting aspects of Filipino culture.  In particular, the ceremonious nature of the parents’ first meeting demonstrates how the Catholic faith serves as a cornerstone in Filipino culture.

The “Pamanhikan” screenplay won First Place in the Narrative Shorts Category at the 2013 Vail Film Festival. “Pamanhikan” needs your contribution so that this film can be produced as planned.  The goal is to raise $42,000.  Click here to contribute to this groundbreaking film for the Fil-Am community.  You can also click here to learn more about the Producer, Director and Screenwriter, Angelo Santos.