Cine Baguio-A A +A
Thursday, September 20, 2012
“RELAX! See a movie.” This is a catch line popular among city folks. From those usually left at home, to the students, to the blue collar workers, to the office operatives, to the busiest entrepreneurs and company executives, going to the movies is a respite from the lifelessness of a daily routine. Between classmates, officemates, acquaintances, would-be lovers, lovers, siblings, parent and child, or the whole family who want to spend a quiet moment together, the dim setting of a cinema coupled with comfortable seats surrounded by sights and sounds is a perfect place. Cinemas indeed are an essential element of fun and leisure in the city. Such an association makes it not just a place for shows but a place that can show the progress or regress of a city and its people.
When I returned to Baguio for college sometime in the mid-nineties, my brother cousin who was a year ahead of me in schooling reintroduced to me Baguio by first going to watch cine. He insisted that I may know the parks as a child but as a teenager, must discover some dark places. Thus, on the day of my arrival, we found ourselves in the day’s first screening of a JericRaval movie at the then Cinestar, one of the two former cinemas besides the Malcolm Square now known as People’s Park. The cinema experience took us almost four hours as double show offering was still a norm then. Ticket prices were at fifteen for orchestra and twenty for balcony to which I at first grumbled as it is actually a third of what I need for fare in the eight-hour trip back to the province. He swore that it was just alright as cinema going is not an everyday event and it would be something I won’t regret. Certainly, the experience was satisfying as it was very much in contrast to paying two pesos to enter a packed room to watch Betamax of an old movie back in the province. It wasn’t my first movie house encounter though as my father who used to work in the mines used to bring me to the now bygone cinema in Balatoc, Acupan when he was still working with the mines. But the teenage experience is something different as it is cine in the city.
Later in my college days, I have gone to almost all the cinemas especially those that exhibits Tagalog movies to which I am a buff. There is Empire Cinema along Abanao Street that still survives up to the present. There was once Maricel Cinema across the road behind the Maharlika Livelihood Center which is now better known as a grocery store. Also a bygone is Plaza Cinema, the neighbor of Cinestar, which along with the latter is now a wagwagan. Long gone too were the days of Prince Albert Cinema along Magsaysay Avenue whose building is still a place for entertainment though as it now became a bar for those who want to drink and dance to the tune of country sounds. There was also Pines Cinema near the foot of Session Road known for its single but select showing now divided into different commercial stalls. A past cinema too is First Cinema along General Luna Street known for its double show of English movies but the space is now occupied by a surplus store. And there was Session Cinema known for single show of English select movie but is now known as a pizza shop.
I was not able to have an experience at the New Baguio Cinema long T. Alonzo street but some would tell me it is better I didn’t as their show offerings are something different. The building now looks abandoned. There were also cinemas that once opened when at the turn of the century Cooyeesan mall was born in Baguio along Naguillian Road at the turn of the century. Center mall too used to have four cinemas and I don’t remember having a movie experience in all of them. In nearby La Trinidad, its first cinema at Kilometer 4 did not last and is now a grocery store.
It must be business considerations that made the cinemas closedown. Approximately, most of them ceased to exist when big establishments invaded the city. Preferences and attitudes of people changed; example, a one-stop shop is favored where they could shop or dine after a movie. Or some would choose to watch a pirated new movie at home. There is also an obvious change in cinema technology which perhaps the other cinemas weren’t able to coup up. Makes me wonder, was it sign of progress or regress or perhaps progress in one aspect and regress in another?
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 20, 2012.