The portrait of the traveller as a filmgoer

by Evans Yonson

Cagayan de Oro – I have been asked once why I love film so much. It’s really a long story to tell. It would take a lifetime to even start writing its script. I’ll try to make this short enough to engage you in a brief banter.

It all started when my Mom was working for the city government. She was once assigned as cinema checker. She checked on the receipts of these cinemas on a daily basis. Most of the time, she would be assigned two cinemas every week. And she worked on weekends and public holidays, too. During this time, she would tag the five of us with her on weekends. On Saturdays, we would all wake-up early. Clean the house. Have a breakfast. Prepare lunch. Get ready for our Saturday movie treat. We would all walk to the theater with pots of rice, viands, bottles of Coke filled with very cold water, bananas, plates, spoons and forks, glasses and desserts. Each one of us was given a bag to carry. The younger ones carried the lighter bags. Imagine the horror of the other moviegoers when we started feeling hungry in the middle of the first movie.

All cinemas then showed double programs. We came in shortly before 1pm and went home around 6pm. Our weekend picnics were all artsy. We spent those afternoons watching Filipino hit movies of some superstars of the time. We didn’t have museums then. Our window to the outside world was inside a cavernous dark room with industrial fans substituting for air-conditioning systems. We cried with Nora Aunor in Minsa’y May Isang Gamu-gamo. We flew with Vilma Santos in Lipad! Darna, lipad! And danced with her again in Rock! Baby, rock! We exchanged bullets with John Wayne. And ran with Fernando Poe, Jr in Sa Dulo ng Kris. We were growing up during the second golden age of Philippine cinema. We saw Brocka. Bernal. Guillen. Mike de Leon. Borlaza. Gosengfiao. Aunor. Santos. Koronel. Roco. Alajar. Gallaga.

In school, we were treated with a weekly musical and children’s movie. The Sound of Music. Escape from the Witch Mountain. Mary Poppins. Pinocchio. Cinderella. Snow White and Seven Dwarfs. In high school, we discovered the classics such as: The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur, Spartacus, Romeo and Juliet, Man from La Mancha, The Godfather series. Beyond the classroom and the watchful eyes of our mother, I discovered Deep Throat, Caligula, Lady Chatterly’s Lover, and many more flicks. Before I turned 18, I was already watching FOR ADULTS ONLY movies like Shame, Scorpio Nights, and Boatman. I had a break from the cinema world during my university years but I had developed affections for Coppola, Kurosawa, Buñuel, Scorsese, de Palma, the Scott Brothers, and of course, Allen.

Then I learned scriptwriting. In high school, whenever I cried or got angry, I would get into my room and write endlessly about my thoughts. I learned how to appreciate my written thoughts. I started reading others’ words and meanings. Stage theater taught to see the symbols and subtexts. More movies, more symbols. More words, more meanings. Encounters taught me new things. Travel taught me new meanings. Life taught me to write even more.