THE digital age came late for me and to millions of senior citizens all over the world. As far as I am concerned, I am glad I can still embrace it, though a little bit, in my life. I can text, can call free anywhere in the world through messenger and many other things unimaginable in the early years. Now I send my columns via email, unlike when I was a young reporter, I had to place a long distance call to the newspaper desk which at times doesn't come easily. I am on Facebook and I tweet. Most of all, I love Netflix movies and documentaries on YouTube. And on a rainy day, I stay at home and journey back to the movies I wanted to watch when I was young but can't afford the box office tickets.
This was what I learned. Did you know that Hollywood produces on the average 500 movies each year, and that the United States film market releases these films in many countries around the world? And each year, just as it was in 1929, the Film Academy awards the Oscar Statuettes to film actors and others involved in movie making as recognition for their outstanding achievements. It is also an effort to encourage excellence in all areas of film making -- sounds, editing, music, design, etc.
I have been a film buff since I was young. Sometimes my friends at the Monday Club and Wednesday Club, particularly those much senior to me, do wonder how I could remember certain old movies. Remember Johnny Weissmuller when he starred in "Tarzan"? Kirk Douglas in "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea"?
In my youth, I asked our neighbor Tatang Cosme Palo, a jeepney driver, to take me in as his conductor. I was not really after the fifty centavos wage I was paid, but by the fact that whenever I went to Angeles, I got free rides because I got acquainted with all the drivers plying the Porac-Angeles route.
A member of the Angeles police force, Tatang Dionisio Calma, a friend of my father, would ask the theater portera if I can get in free. I was never denied entry if I was with him. Those early years, movies were in black and white and I preferred movies produced by Sampaguita Pictures of the Vera-Perezes. It was the home of beautiful actresses. From the time of Paraluman, Linda Estrella, Tita Duran up to the beauties in the 60s, the likes of Liberty Ilagan, Susan Roces, Amalia Fuentes and many more.
Their romantic comedies starring love team Gloria Romero and Juancho Gutierrez, with the tandem of Dolphy and Panchito in supporting roles made viewing movies a real treat. Heavy drama movies like "Singsing na Sinulid" starring Celia Flor and Teody Belarmino made me cry.
The other major film studios in the early years of Philippine movies were Lebran, Premiere Productions of the Santiagos and LVN of the De Leons headed by their matriarch Donya Sisang. Premiere Production produced more of the action type movies. I remember Cesar Ramirez starring in "Bernardo Carpio." Jose Padilla Jr. in "Sawa sa Lumang Simboryo." Efren Reyes Sr. in "Banga ni Zimadar." The Zimadar movie was shot on location in our hometown in Porac. I still have in my mind the beautiful face and legs of the leading lady Edna Luna.
LVN was more into musical extravaganza type of movies. The dancing love team of Nestor de Villa and Nida Blanca drew in the movie-going public, which was then called the "bakya crowd." Diomedes Maturan and Marita Zobel made musical movies, and our kabalen comedienne Patsy wowed the moviegoers. Many romantics shed tears on the melodramas that starred the love team, Rogelio de la Rosa-Carmen Rosales pairing.
The big three studios, Sampaguita, LVN and Premiere Productions, stopped their cameras rolling when a lawyer from Macabebe, Espiridion Laxa, ventured into film making and founded Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Production.
His first movie was "Baril sa Baril," shot entirely in our hometown in Porac in 1961, and it starred Fernando Poe Jr., Joseph Estrada, Perla Bautista and Mariquit Soliman. His brother Tony Ferrer was introduced in this movie. They don't do movies anymore like they used to.