Don’t ask me to pick out from a line up people named Assunta, Ara, Juday, John Lloyd, Rufa Mae, Alessandra, Piolo, and Jenny Lynne. I have no idea how they look like, I just see their names in the online edition of Philippine Daily Inquirer, and it doesn’t always have pictures. Not that I would be able to keep track anyway. There are just so many new names, an extraordinary amount of which seemed to have been picked out of a Makati phone book!
Ask me any day about Amalia, Susan, Rosemarie, Juancho, Vilma, Nora, Amy, Hilda, Sharon, Pugo, Bentot, Chichay, Nida, Bella, Matutina, Dely, Babalu, Etang, and I’ll give you a smile. Okay, it’s many years past, and those of you who want to remain in the Tagalog movie closet, stay in there. Just smile secretly to yourself as you read this, and admit that YOU DID watch Sine Siete
, and that YOU DID enjoy it!
I remember wanting to go home eagerly in the afternoons, so we could watch Sine Siete
. My partner in crime was my sister, and it turns out, a great number of Assumption classmates! I have great memories of watching Dance O’Rama
and Ang Senyorito at ang Atsay
over and over and over again. Today, when we have pan de sal
at home, I can’t help but say in my mind “At nasaan ang jamon?” And can anyone say “Dance O’Rama” and you not reply “Marlene, Marlene, you are the Dance O'Rama Queeng of My Heart.” Once my husband had all these errands for me to do, and I actually curtsied and said “Opo, senyorito.” My God, all these years, and I’m still messed up!
There were all those Pugo, Bentot, Patsy, and Cachupoy ones where it seemed they were always getting into trouble, and the funniest scenes were set in cemeteries. Remember the one where there was a character named “Dr. Kagaw” and the haunted house one where Rosemarie was a young girl in twin braids, that would rise whenever she got scared? There was another scary movie I remember called Gumising Ka Maruja
and I think it was starring Susan Roces. And a whole bunch of Charo Santos and Hilda Koronel scary period movies, the titles escape me. Then there were those Luis Gonzalez, Gloria Romero, Amalia Fuentes, Nida Blanca, Bert Leroy, Nestor De Villa movies, where they wore native probinsiyano
costumes, that clashed with their pretty and handsome city faces! Then there were those World War II movies, some with famous American actors in them, but where the mean Japanese captain would always be Vic Diaz! I learned all about Corregidor and Bataan and the death march from Sine Siete
, before I learned about them in school.
Why is it that in the movies, someone’s mom was always dying, leaving the poor children “ulila” to be raised by a nasty aunt, or step-mother? Seemed to me like Charito Solis, Caridad Sanchez, and even Hilda Koronel were such abused, kawawa
women. Such drama, such stereotypes, such fun!
And Dolphy always had some effeminate role, like Fefita Fofonggay vda. De Falayfay or something like that, and another wacky one called Buhay Marino
. I know it’s not cinema but television, but are there videos of the John and Marsha
series? I would love to see those all over again. Anytime I see my brother in ugly, old looking shorts (he’s notorious for hanging on to old clothes) I call him John Puruntong! And at Target, a few years ago, they sold those food covers that keep the flies out, made out of wire, the kind that John put over his face as he slept on the bangko
! I had to buy it, even if we have no flies in the city, just to show my kids. Of course, they just rolled their eyes up at me. I also can't forget Dolphy's tv show called Buhay Artista
where he or his sidekick Panchito would sing a song, and the other would translates it into either English or Tagalog, with such hilarious results!
I remember watching the original Darna
, and all the impaktos
that came with the movie. Like me, did you learn all about aswangs, vampiras, manananggals, tianaks, capres
, and the like from Tagalog movies? What a wealth of cultural trivia they were back then. Then there was the Vilma Santos remake of Darna. Speaking of Vilma, you also need to speak of Nora. I remember my sister and I were closet Vilmanians. The household staff, including our yayas
, were Noranians, to our dismay. I remember someone actually saying that we like Vilma cause we were maputi
like her, and the yayas
like Nora, who was maitim
, like them. That was kinda offensive, even back then, I just could not explain why, but then again, when you think about it, one tends to identify with someone who is like oneself, so maybe it had anthropological truth to it? Then we would go into great debates about who was the better singer, and who was the better actor. In light of what they are today (Mayor of Lipa, and suspected drug smuggler), it all seems silly and irrelevant. (But you did watch Superstar
, on Sundays right, with Ate Guy and Kuya Germs? Actually, you never missed Germspecial
, or Inday Badiday on “The Truth and Nothing But the Truth
” did you? Or were you the Flor de Luna
or Anna Lisa
Ah, that’s getting too deep into analyzing Filipino entertainment, but why not? A good part of my childhood was spent enjoying it. There was one of Chichay, I think it was called “Shootout sa Baboy Corral
”, where they were cowboys but had pigs and not cows, a pancit luglug
western, if there ever was one. Chichay would caress the pigs to sleep by massaging their tummies and chanting “Yatatata, yatatata” something like it. Just to show you how messed up I am, that is how I put my daughters to sleep. They laughed when I first did it, totally did not get my explanation about the movie, until I told them they
were the little pigs I needed to put to sleep. They still request it. Look at that, passing it on to the next generation, indoctrination of Filipino movie culture.
My aunt remembers taking my sister and I to a Nora
movie because we kept nagging her: Lollipops and Roses
, which was set in California, with Cocoy Laurel in the lead. I used to think Cocoy was so cute, and followed him around their Matabunkay compound, where my parents always played in the Holy Week pelota tournaments. My tita still tells people that she had to buy us giant lollipops to eat while watching, and that we sang along loudly with the movie, to her ultimate shame. She'll never let us live that down. There also was Nora Aunor and Manny de Leon in “Tell Nora I Love Her”, and yes, I can even sing that song. Scary, no
? What’s even scarier is that one night, on my way home on a bus with my husband Gerry, and his friend Ner Martinez (brother of Leo Martinez) I started to confess my Sine Siete
obsession and it turns out, the Martinez family has one too, no surprise there of course. It got really sick and I thought my husband would throw up, when Ner and I started singing Tell Nora I Love Her
right there on the bus. But it helped to know I wasn’t the only one in the closet, or just outside of it.
Now if you remember this, you have to admit it, just for my sake. Do you remember the Vilma Santos movie called “The Sensations” where they had all these love teams, etc. etc.? I can still remember the song especially the refrain, and that the fashion of the day was hotpants! I remember my sister and I went to Magallanes Theater to watch it, and as a treat to go with the movie, spaghetti at Pancake House with the yayas
We cousins used to scare each other just by saying this movie title, in our scariest possible deep voice: "Hatinggabi na, Vilma
!"And were you afraid of Mary Walter, Etang Discher, and Bella Flores as I was? They looked so scary, mean, and witch-like, especially in the black and white movies they appeared in. How thrilled I was recently, to see a gentle, older, more graceful, still beautiful Bella Flores in Crying Ladies
! Frankly, not only was it the high note, it was one of only two things that made me not regret wasting my $12! The other thrill was seeing a fat Edgar Mortiz as the noisy upstairs neighbor!
For much of my childhood, I remember that actually seeing a Tagalog movie in the theater was forbidden, since many of them were ‘bomba”. Then they started to make quality “Lino” movies, but still, I was too young, and would not dare sneak in. So the next era of my Tagalog movie enjoyment came with the Sharon movies, and Regal films. (Do you Section 7 girls remember that Mother Lily’s daughter, Roselle Monteverde, was our classmate in 3rd year high school? She was only there for one year. More about her in the Third Year blog, coming soon.) I actually remember seeing “Katorse” and “Bilibid Boys” in the theater, as well as “Bagets.”
Ah, the Sharon movies. This was to be Cricket Concepcion’s and my secret pleasure. Fun enough, that we would take the jeepney all the way from U.P. to Ali Mall, to be there on opening day. Not only did we watch them all, Cricket knew the dialogue by heart. Ah too late, she can’t kill me now, by the time she sees this, the deed is done. I don’t know if I was more amused by her amazing memory (she would start quoting soon as we left the movie house) or by her funny Tagalog. Actually, I believe Cricket expanded her Tagalog vocabulary, thanks to Sharon!
I think I continued to watch Sharon movies even when I moved to the States, via video of course. I did stop at one point, since I got bored. We grew up, but Sharon didn’t. She seems to think she is still this cute 14-year old ingénue, when she must be 40 years old by now. Pa-cute pa rin siya, nakakainis na
. And when she is supposed to be poor in the movie, why in the world does she have marvelous haircuts and highlights, and perfect manicures? Gimme a break.
As an adult, I no longer need to sneak in, so when they showed these films at a festival in NY some years back, off I went to enjoy them: Itim
. I also saw Marilu Diaz Abaya's Rizal
on video, and it was excellent.
In recent years, I’ve seen a few more, and was quite surprised that I enjoyed them: Milan
, Mano Po
(the first one), Ngayong Nandito Ka
– with Jericho Rosales and Kristine Hermosa (Wow! I know who they are!) Actually, for the latter movie, I ended up watching it thanks to my brother and my husband. One weekend, we left them at home while we went shopping. They had the entire house to themselves plus a bunch of videos my sister-in-law borrowed. They put in Ngayong
… and by the time we got home, we found them in front of the tv with tears in their eyes!!! Mwahahahaha! Now they will really kill me for typing this! Magnifico
was good, but not quite magnifique. I don't know what, but was it too gut wrenching with no redemption, and could there have been another way to depict the tragedy without all that weeping and wailing? Maybe living away has just changed my taste. This iyakan
melodrama might just be what attracted me to Pinoy films in my childhood in the first place.
So my eras in Pinoy movies are the 50s and the 60s, then I jump into the 80s and am starting to discover the 21st century films. I feel like I missed out in the golden age of the Brockas and Mike de Leons and Laurice Guillen ones cause I was too young when they first screened and then I left the Philippines. Sometimes I wonder if they ever got shown on Sine Siete
or its reincarnations, much like the movies of the 50s were. My only recourse now would be video, if they ever got into video. I stopped going to the Filipino video stores ages ago, when it seemed like the only movies I could rent were from the modern day versions of bomba
Recently, I heard that a Filipino restaurant near me holds Monday night screenings of old movies from the 50s, plus all-you-can-eat buffets for less than $10. And to top it all, the feature that I just missed was “Dance O' Rama” Oh my gawd, pan de sal
, Marlene honey, and all the lechon kawali
I want. What more could a Sine Siete
die hard ask for?