It is 1982. Welcome to Manila during the final years of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos' insidious and corrupt twenty-year regime. American pop culture rules. The spiritual and the carnal operate side by side. A wildly disparate group of characters—from an insomniac First Lady who boasts of "dreaming awake" to movie stars and humble waiters to flamboyant drag queens, coddled beauty queens, and the richest man in the Philippines—become caught up in a spiral of events culminating in a beauty pageant, a film festival, and the assassination of a courageous and outspoken politician.

We follow three characters through this maelstrom of events. Joey Sands is the 16-year-old illegitimate offspring of an African American soldier and prostitute who committed suicide when Joey was a child. He works part-time as a DJ in "Studio 54," a disco in the red-light district, and lives in the teeming slums of Tondo with his pimp/protector, an old man known as Uncle. By chance Joey witnesses the assassination of Senator Avila and is forced to literally run for his life. Daisy Avila, the Senator's daughter, is a beauty queen torn by a life of contradictions. Her suffering at the hands of military eventually brings her together with Joey. And Rio Gonzaga is an expatriate who lives in America and returns to Manila after a long absence to attend her grandmother's funeral and make peace with her father.

In this volatile landscape, everyone's lives are somehow linked and changed forever by the Senator's death. History and memory clash and collide. Life is a soap opera.


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