It is 1948, barely 3 years after the end of the Second World War yet the Filipino audiences still patronized films that, even indirectly, referred to the horrific experience that was the Japanese occupation. Sa Tokyo Ikinasal is a film version of a zarzuela called On To Tokyo by Pedrito Reyes, (one of the numerous children of Severino Reyes, aka Lola Basyang). But the story is really a Filipino adaptation of the famous opera by Giacomo Puccini – Madame Butterfly.
The original Madame Butterfly had a very simple plot – girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl kills herself. The story featured only two major characters, the dashing U.S. Navy officer, Pinkerton, and the beautiful geisha Cio-Cio San.
Sa Tokyo Ikinasal, on the other hand is a light romantic comedy, teeming with subplots. It is a satire, and the target, of course, are the Japanese. Thus, the Japanese characters are more like caricatures, speaking to each other in pidgin Tagalog or more accurately, ‘Japalog’ complete with stereotypical Japanese behavior, like incessant bowing, growling and grunting.
The Filipino version has Rogelio de la Rosa playing Carlos, the Pinkerton role. He is a Philippine navy officer and a decorated war hero. Then there is his brother, Fidel (Armando Goyena), another decorated war hero. The two brothers come home just in time to celebrate the birthday of their ‘sister’ Liling (Celia Flor).
As expected, the two brothers are both in love with Liling, but how is that possible since Liling is their sister? Their parents (Gil de Leon and Naty Bernardo) decide to finally reveal the truth about Liling. Liling is not their sister; she was adopted and now that she is of age, she is free to choose between Carlos and Fidel.
Into this very Filipino subplot weaves the Madame Butterfly story. Liling sings again but this time she sings a famous aria from the Puccini opera. This triggers a flashback that shows Carlos and Cio-Cio San (Tessie Quintana) happy and in love in a Japanese setting overflowing with cherry blossoms.