MANILA, September 2, 2003  (STAR) STARBYTES By Butch Francisco  - The Internet has brought in a lot of conveniences to this world: It allows us to communicate with friends and family and even business associates in a fast and economical way. We can shop online with it and it makes research possible with just the tip of our fingers.

But as with most modern innovations, it also has a downside – the Internet has been used from the very start as a tool to disseminate pornography worldwide.

This is the theme of the new Tikyo Aguiluz movie,

The movie stars Juliana Palermo as a young balikbayan who has been sent back to the Philippines by her father after her boyfriend in the US gets her pregnant. Here in Manila, she stays with an aunt and a young female cousin who treat her indifferently.

Left with little money to live on, she aborts her baby and accepts the offer of Gary Estrada to pose regularly in various stages of nudity for a website that features Pinay sex kittens.

Soon, she becomes the toast of the website, practically dislodging the local queen of cybersex, Angelu de Leon. But in spite of the material comforts all around her, she realizes that she isn’t all that happy with her life – especially since she has to dodge the law in her newfound profession. is the first local film to tackle the topic of cybersex and for this reason alone, it becomes important and should be given attention.

As a film about cybersex,, of course, has to have nudity and, sure enough, it has plenty – oh, lots of women’s breast especially.

But aside from scenes showing naked women (mostly lead star Juliana Palermo), has other things to offer: It is technically well-crafted (the rather grainy effect of the photography is part of the overall theme of the movie) and boasts of fine performances from the cast members.

Juliana Palermo, for instance, does quite well in her launching film and – being the balikbayan that she is in real life – fits perfectly into the role of the liberated Fil-Am girl.

Carlo Maceda as the geeky computer hacker may not really look all that nerdy physically, but he still manages to come up with a convincing enough performance.

Other cast members who deliver creditable performances are Gary Estrada, Rey "PJ" Abellana (as the NBI official assigned to put a stop to pornography on the Internet) and Girlie Sevilla as Juliana’s cousin who treats her with icy civility.

The best performance in the film, however, is delivered by Angelu de Leon. And it is to the credit of Tikoy Aguiluz that he doesn’t put Angelu and Juliana in predictable catfight scenes. (Juliana is a threat to the throne of Angelu, remember?) Instead, the two girls even become friends who look after one another – which is a refreshing twist in local movies.

It is just unfortunate that we do not get to know some of the film’s characters very well. I don’t understand fully, for instance, why Juliana’s aunt and cousin are very cold to her even from the beginning.

The moviegoers aren’t given a clue either to the respective backgrounds of Gary Estrada and Carlo Maceda. Why, I would want to know, would a person become a computer hacker?

And then, there’s the rather slow pacing of the film that may tend to bore viewers in parts.

In general, however, the film is good viewing – oh, yeah especially for those who are only after scenes that show naked women.

In the end, the film succeeds at driving an important message to the public: That we still do not have the laws that cover pornography on the Internet and that the government is still inutile on this aspect of modern living.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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