‘Ang Babaeng Allergic Sa WiFi’ is another tale of unrequited love, and we’re not complaining

There’s a scene in the film where Aries (Jameson Blake) and Macha (Angeli Sanoy) take Norma (Sue Ramirez) on a takas getaway. They drive downhill in a tinfoil covered car, all smiles as the sun sets to Rivermaya’s Elesi. In that moment, everything is golden, everything feels fuzzy, and it feels that the universe is finally letting you win. It’s that kind of euphoric sense that envelopes the young world of Ang Babaeng Allergic Sa WiFi. Or so it seems.

Remember when we were younger and couldn’t get our hands off our phones? That’s Norma, a college undergrad who develops electromagnetic hypersensitivity to the thing she seemingly treasures the most: modern technology. After discovering that data signals worsen her condition, she gets sent away to the province to a live a life off the grid. That means living by the mountains, in a home filled with plants and old gadgets you can tinker with, but no landline, no cellular data, and no WiFi. 

Sounds like heaven to me, but not to Norma, who realizes she will be away from her boyfriend (don’t roll your eyes now, we were once that young and needy) Leo (Markus Paterson). While the film does revolve around Norma, it’s mostly told from the point of view of Aries, Leo’s brother who falls in love with Norma the minute he sees her.

 

Leo lacks accountability — pretty much a common problem in modern dating —  but out of all the characters in the movie, was able to perfectly sum up the modern dating timeline: the initial honeymoon sort of bliss, the inevitable complacency, and the looking around even if you shouldn’t.

 

I, for one, have been like Aries in real life. I’ve loved a girl from a distance, even having our own platonic monthsaries (which was pushing it, as she wasn’t single). I was in high school then but to see this on the screen, albeit through a manic pixie dream boy character, was definitely a smack in the face that seemed to say, this is how bad you were. Jameson Blake plays Aries with such depth, you can see the pain in his eyes of not getting the girl he loves, that you completely forget he doesn’t have a backstory. There are tiny hints of how he is outside his infatuation with Norma, but we never find out what his goals in life are. Leo was serious about sports, Norma wanted to become a pilot, and I guess Aries only wanted Norma to find happiness, even if that came at the cost of his own.

Surely, we’ve all met a Leo. Maybe not as fully realized as how he was portrayed by Markus Paterson, but just as conflicted with how he wants to spread out his effort. Leo lacks accountability — pretty much a common problem in modern dating —  but out of all the characters in the movie, was able to perfectly sum up the modern dating timeline: the initial honeymoon sort of bliss, the inevitable complacency, and the looking around even if you shouldn’t. This wasn’t just a one-dimensional jock, he might be exactly us, jaded after learning a few things about love and dating. Leo is not the poster boy for faithfulness but he did acknowledge his shortcomings, even if it turned out to be too late.

And of course, Norma. This is the film’s answer to Say Anything’s Diane Court, How I Met Your Mother’s Robin, and The Fault In Our Stars’ Hazel Grace. While she does start off as a manic pixie dream girl, she eventually gains the focus of the film as the reversal of the manic pixie trope.

 

Ang Babaeng Allergic Sa WiFi is a reflection of our younger selves back when we were idealistic about love, when we thought no WiFi was the end of the world, or when a Chocnut was all you needed.

 

It’s so easy to say that this was a girl whose journey from gloom to contentment was because of Aries and his ways, but to say that would be disservice to the standout performance of Sue Ramirez. She gave Norma not just complexity, but a familiarity that puts us in Aries’ shoes. You, along with Aries, slowly fall in love with her Norma. We all have our own Normas people we’ve fallen hopelessly in love with and eventually rooted for. When she finally got her dream, the whole cinema sighed in relief: she was going to be okay and by extension, we would be too.

Ultimately, Ang Babaeng Allergic Sa WiFi is a reflection of our younger selves back when we were idealistic about love, when we thought no WiFi was the end of the world, or when a Chocnut was all you needed. In many ways, looking back may be bittersweet. Sometimes it brings back more bad than good, but sometimes all it takes is a memory as euphoric as that takas getaway to buckle up and enjoy the ride no matter how unexpected the journey is – I know I did.

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