‘Sanggano, Sanggago’t Sanggwapo’ review: Toxic mediocrity

Even more toxic in Al Tantay’s Sanggano, Sanggago’t Sanggwapo than the masculinity that is in full disgusting display is the glaring mediocrity.

The film has jokes in droves but struggles to exude any real joy in its haphazard telling of the story of three feckless friends (Janno Gibbs, Dennis Padilla and Andrew E.) who in their antics and hijinks land themselves in the middle of a hacienda’s problem with a villainous casino developer (Eddie Garcia).

Assembler of punchlines

In all fairness to Tantay’s efforts as an assembler of punchlines, some of the jokes are worth a chuckle or more. The question is whether or not those jokes are worth sitting through a regurgitated narrative of hapless middle-aged men surrounded by sexy women and through no real effort or change in heart, save the day. The story is not just an excuse to string together gags, it is a manifestation of a harmful patriarchy desperately trying to keep its foothold in a rapidly modernizing society with the use of humor.

In one scene in the film, a female spy betrays her evil boss when one of the main characters refuse her sexual advances, making her feel that finally, she has found a man who doesn’t treat her like an object. 

The sentiment is wrong for many reasons, one of which is the fact that the man she bases her self-realization with has many other scenes when he becomes the sexual predator. Even more damning is how that scene, which already feels quite odd given that it preaches virtues that the film, as a whole, refuses to practice, sends the antiquated and obsolete message that a woman’s self-worth should be reliant on a man’s appreciation of her.

TRIO. The 3 find themselves in trouble.

TRIO. The 3 find themselves in trouble.

No eye for visual comedy

Never mistake the movie as some sort of noble effort to reintroduce a glaringly absent kind of comedy that caters to men, the same way Marius Talampas’ Ang Pangarap Kong Holdap (2018) and Miko Livelo’s Tol (2019) did with their hilariously self-deprecating takes on the male ego.

Sanggano, Sanggago’t Sanggwapo is a valueless relic, a latecomer that nobody wants around. 

Tantay doesn’t have an eye for visual comedy, which could have assisted the many gags to be more than just the spouted dialogues that they are.

Sanggano, Sanggago’t Sanggwapo is flat, drab and dull. 

Nothing differentiates the film’s images with the ones that crowd the many television sitcoms aired on a daily or weekly basis. Even Gibbs, Padilla and Andrew E. hardly make any effort in shaping their characters, knowing fully well that all they need to do is to reiterate stereotypes since the characters they play are nothing more than vessels of chauvinistic humor. The film is one torturously long skit.

WHAT TO DO. How will the 3 fix their problem?


How will the 3 fix their problem?

Gross, through and through

Sanggano, Sanggago’t Sanggwapo is gross through and through.

It thinks it’s all just fun and games, except that to tolerate this kind of reprehensible pleasure borders on being irresponsible. —Rappler.com


Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass.

Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.