Image from Komixpage
For the uninitiated, Machete was a wooden Indian (as in Native American) statue, who would come to life at night to, um, give pleasure to whoever love-starved lady had him in her thrall. But he would always turn back into a statue at dawn, giving new meaning to the term "morning wood."
Created by veteran writer Pablo S. Gomez and artist Louie D. Celerio, Machete first appeared in Pinoy Klasiks (published by Graphic Arts Service, Inc.) in 1989. Judging from the original serial's title, Machete: Batong Buhay ("Machete: Living Stone"), it would seem that the character's original komiks incarnation was actually carved out of stone.
MACHETE AT THE MOVIES
Machete first became flesh on screen in the 1990 film Machete: Istatwang Buhay ("Machete: Living Statue"), starring Cesar Montano in the title role. Produced by Seiko Films ("If it's from Seiko, it must be good!"), which was notorious in the 1990's for its string of ST ("sex trip") films, the picture naturally played up the erotic elements in the story.
The movie was successful enough to spawn a sequel, Machete II, which was released in 1994. It starred Gardo Versoza, who did not actually portray Machete himself, but rather played a murdered man who similarly has his spirit infused into a wooden statue (yes, I actually watched this when it came out. I was curious, okay?). This film was also notable for being the first major starring role of '90's sex goddess Rosanna Roces.
Image from Video 48
In 1999, creators Gomez and Celerio revived the living wooden sex toy in a new series, Machete III, which was serialized in Aliwan Komiks. This serial, however, was never adapted into film.
Here's a chapter from Aliwan Komiks #2441 (August 22, 1999). Nothing much happens in it, though.
MACHETE ON TV
In recent years, Machete has been brought to life on television a number of times, though of course, the sexual aspect of the character had to be dropped in order to make him suitable for the general TV audience. A 2006 episode of the ABS-CBN fantasy anthology Komiks presented a much more wholesome romantic-comedy adaptation featuring Joseph Bitangcol as Machete and Korean pop star Sandara Park as his love interest.
ABS-CBN would make use of the character again, turning him into a full-fledged superhero in the 2006-07 series Super Inggo. This time out, the hunky hunk of wood was played by model/actor Derek Ramsay, who was not only the first incarnation of Machete not to have long hair, but to date the only live-action version to keep his pants on.
And just as many Filipino celebrities have been switching networks as of late, it appears even fictional characters aren't immune to the trend. This year, the GMA Network gave Machete his own TV series, with young heartthrob Aljur Abrenica as the latest to don the loincloth.
For this re-imagining, Machete is no longer an Indian, but instead belongs to some indeterminate ancient Filipino tribe. This version wears his hair short, though he does start out with long hair. His real name is revealed to be Dakila, and the name Machete is supposedly taken from the weapon he wields. No, not a big knife, but a hatchet (shouldn't his name be "Hatchete," then?). The story goes that he was mortally wounded in battle and died in his lover's arms. His soul was bonded to a tree which, in the present day, would eventually be carved into a statue in his likeness.
Broadcast from Monday to Friday nights, the series' first week moved a lot faster than most local shows usually do (yes, I watched a bit of it. Again, I was curious). Whereas other shows would spend a week or two on the lead character's childhood, Machete's past history and the female lead's tragic childhood were covered in the first episode. By the second episode, the statue was sculpted, and it finally came to life by the third. On the downside, the show still suffers from the soap opera syndrome that typically plagues pinoy TV dramas, so it's not really something I'd be interested in following. At the moment, the story is focused on the love triangle between Machete, the sculptress who "made" him, and the reincarnation of his lost love, but the action should pick up when they start searching for his missing hatchet (which turns out to have magical properties, kind of like Thor's hammer, Mjolnir).
Machete co-creator Pablo Gomez passed away on December 26 of last year at the age of 79. Prior to his passing, a number of his stories were adapted for the ABS-CBN fantasy series Wansapanataym, and the recent remake of another of his creations, Petrang Kabayo, was a box-office hit. Aside from Machete, there are currently 2 other television programs based on his works, Juanita Banana and Mutya, both airing on ABS-CBN. At a time when Mars Ravelo and Carlo J. Caparas adaptations usually lord over the airwaves, it's nice to see another respected komiks master getting his due for a change.