katya santos

Like most Filipino films these days, Quark Henares’ sophomore film, Keka, is all about love. However, Keka is filled with colorful characters that are far from the stereotypes littered in our romantic flicks. Keka (Katya Santos) is torn when her boyfriend PJ (Jordan Herera) is murdered by a gang of frat men. Years later, Keka decides to go postal on her boyfriend’s murderers. Jason (Wendell Ramos) is a police detective who still can’t get over his last girlfriend. When their paths cross, there’s undeniable chemistry between them and sparks fly. But what happens when the body bags start piling up and Jason is called to investigate?

Henares takes the lifeless and clichéd genre and refreshes it with his undeniable quirk. The film is laced with homages to Philippine cinema like a song-and-dance number (complete with freeze frame endings) reminiscent of 80s films with Roderick Paulate and Maricel Soriano and a clever nod to Mike de Leon’s subversive classic Batch ’81. Released in the same year as Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 1, Keka may have similar themes with Tarantino’s roaring rampage of revenge, but Henares maintains its palatability for his local audience. Too bad it went unnoticed when it was screened here. Until now, you can still probably spot a DVD of Keka in the shelves of softcore skin flicks. With its young cast and even younger set of people involved in its production (the likes of Diego Mapa, Erwin Romulo, Diego Castillo, and Mich Dulce), seeing Keka is almost like seeing what these artists have in store for us in the future. Shinji Manlangit

i was supposed to guest edit an issue of Flow magazine before they sadly went away. one of the features was going to be revisiting my favorite actresses with my favorite photographers. 

this is a portrait of Katya Santos by J.A. Tadena. it was a meaningful shoot because it had been 7 years since the three of us collaborated on Keka, and both of them had become really good friends after making the film. 

Keka is still my favorite character that I’ve created, and to be completely honest Katya was the farthest thing from my mind when I wrote the character back in high school. I really wanted Jolina Magdangal to play her, and when Boss Vic pushed Katya for the role I vehemently objected. 

“sir hindi po talaga bagay si Katya sa role…”

“kung walang Katya walang Keka.”

“ay actually parang ok nga yang si Katya.”

now I can’t imagine anyone else playing the role but Katya. as a person, she’s actually very much like Keka; boyish, charming, witty. and for someone who grew up in showbiz she’s the most non-showbiz artista i know. 

there’s this really clear image i have of Katya in my head. we’re getting ready to do the final fight scene, and she’s just in the corner, waiting for the lights to get set up, staring blankly at nothing. she looks at her knife, and not thinking anyone’s watching presses her finger against it. she hisses in pain, pulls her finger back, and then looks around. she sees me looking from across the room, between all the crew members scurrying around. i want to laugh but am trying my best  to suppress it. she makes a face like she’s shrugging, without the shrug.

(aaaand i was just supposed to write “Keka by J.A. Tadena”. lol. )