When I was in UP Law and the People Power happened, Gringo Honasan became a household name and an object of curiosity. A friend and classmate who lived most of her life in Fort Bonifacio (her father was a general in the armed forces and this was before Fort Bonifacio became the trendy Global City) described how Gringo Honasan was regarded by those in the camp. “A man’s man” was how she described him. It was the first time I heard that phrase. Well, we all have our opinions about Honasan’s political loyalties and disloyalties but I can’t say I didn’t understand what my friend meant back then although Gringo wasn’t exactly my type. Some males make women swoon but their fellow males don’t think they’re anything extraordinary. A man’s man elicits some primal reaction from both men and women, and it’s not necessarily sexual. They just, well… stand out for one reason or another. There are people whose presence you just can’t ignore.
I would use the phrase “a man’s man” many times after that to describe other males but the context would always be different from the last. There are many reasons why a man would stand out — looks, status, achievement… it can be anything. I used that term to describe Pierce Brosnan when he became James Bond. I used the same term when Brad Pitt appeared in Legends of the Fall. We have a friend who’s openly a lesbian but she says she turns all woman when she sees Hayden Kho. Even Speedy admits that despite Hayden Kho’s character (or lack of it) and reputation, “Gwapo talaga ang demonyo.”
Now, if there’s such a thing as a man’s man, surely, there must be a female counterpart? Yesterday, Speedy and I went to see a movie. Just the two of us. And that’s something we hadn’t done in many years. Amazingly, the girls weren’t interested in seeing Disney’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice but Speedy and I thought it would be a cool movie. So, we went. And we went without having read any reviews and without even knowing who’s in the cast except for Nicholas Cage. To make a long story short, it’s about the battle between good and evil sorcerers, and the search for Merlin’s worthy successor. The “good” sorcerer is Balthazar Blake (Cage) and the “evil” sorcerer is Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina). I’ll leave it at that so there won’t be spoilers. This entry isn’t really about the film anyway.
Somewhere towards the middle of the movie, there was this scene where Blake was going after Horvath on a busy New York Street. To get away from Blake, Horvath touched an elderly female pedestrian and she suddenly turned into a gorgeous and much younger woman, distracting Blake. I heard Speedy release an audible gasp, he was bumping his knee onto mine and he whispered, “It’s…” I finished the sentence for him, “…Monica Bellucci.”
Okay, so Speedy has that reaction whenever he sees Monica Bellucci — on the movie screen, on a magazine, on a website, on a poster… And the thing is, I gape too whenever I see her. She has that kind of presence.
The first time we saw Monica Bellucci was in The Matrix Reloaded. We didn’t know her name, we didn’t know she had done so many movies before that and she was already a star in European cinema. But we gaped at the gorgeous dark-haired woman in a tight white dress asking for a kiss from Neo. In so many ways, she stole the feminine angle of the movie from Trinity who monopolized the first Matrix film.
The next time we saw Monica Bellucci was in a DVD copy of Tears of the Sun as a de-glamorized American doctor in Nigeria working in a hospital in the jungle. Even without the tight dress, the smoky make-up and the high heels, there she was exuding the same magnificent presence onscreen. In the lingo of modeling agencies, it would be described as the X Factor.
Monica Bellucci will turn 46 this year. There are fine lines around her eyes and the skin on her neck isn’t as tight as it was ten years ago. But she’s still beautiful. It’s not really the voluptuous figure… Speedy says it’s her face. I don’t know how to describe it — the unabashed sensuality, the feline grace, the dark eyes that seem to mock and invite at the same time, the pouty lips. And the sexy accent.
I know a lot of women consider Angelina Jolie to be the ultimate femme fatale. But I think Monica Bellucci beats her to it — without even trying.