Sangil: Sadness in showbiz

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SAD movies make me cry. It is the first line of a song which was so popular several years ago. In this time of the pandemic, many movie people are "crying" sans for few like Vic Soto and some of his dabarkads in Eat Bulaga. Vice Ganda and Bong Navarro are still on the "idiot box" despite the closure of ABS-CBN. Comedian Willie Revillame is still throwing millions to draw attention to himself and his low rated show. Coco Martin and Daniel Padilla are among the new multi-millionaires and are comfortable with their savings. But out there are so many in showbiz who were thrown out of job, it will not be surprising if sooner or later we can see some of those popular faces lined up on the streets begging just like those drivers of traditional jeepneys.

The comedian Jimmy Santos is one of my few friends in show business. He and Anjo Yllana were mainstays in the lunchtime show Eat Bulaga and were sidelined by the pandemic because their segment was to visit barangays. That was disallowed because it will violate health protocols. Jimmy explained that movie outfits also stopped making films because theaters all over the country are closed. So very sad for film people.


There’s a short chapter in my life that when I look back I cannot help but laugh at myself. The scene was in San Juan City. This was in the mid-fifties and I was a dishwasher in a small restaurant located at the corner of N. Domingo and Lozada streets. My sister Eugenia was the cook and each summer break from high school I joined my sister there and got "employed" not only as a dishwasher but as janitor and errand boy as well.

Despite the heavy workload I never felt burdened, probably because I was young and enjoyed the metropolitan atmosphere, instead of the bucolic and laidback setting in my hometown of Porac. And on Sunday, my off day, I walked from the restaurant to the nearby Sampaguita studios where together with fans waited outside of the high walled Vera Perez residences for the movie stars coming in and out. The late Amalia Fuentes was the newest discovery of the studio together with Romeo Vasquez and Juancho Gutierrez. Other popular stars were Luis Gonzales, Gloria Romero, Rita Gomez, Ric Rodrigo, Pepito Rodriguez, Daisy Romualdez, Rosemarie Sonora, Greg Martin and Eddie Arenas. Rodolfo Quezon aka Dolphy was starting to make a name and was still in second billing.

In my youth, an orchestra ticket either in Angeles City, Guagua or San Fernando or even in Metro Manila theaters was only 35 centavos. A balcony ticket was priced double and considered a luxury for most. And lotharios who were playing hide and seek were not much visible but moviegoers can hear loud smacking among young couples. Under the cover of darkness, brave couples were doing more than that.

On top of it, in those days, you can stay in your seat and can view the movie twice or thrice and no usher will bother you. Unlike today where there are time schedules for screening. The digital age came, YouTube and Netflix offer more movies and documentaries. You can even view them repeatedly and on any of one’s available free time. And subscription is not that much. Unli-movies. Unli-documentaries and unli-news.

In the early years in Angeles town, there were few theaters and featured sometimes two movies. The Paraiso movie house which later became Lita theater showed mostly Tagalog movies like Robin Theater. Devry and Marte theaters only featured English movies. I remember it was either in these two movie houses where I saw Tarzan and starred Johnny Weissmuller. Other male stars were Errol Flynn, Audie Murphy, Humphrey Bogart and more. Hollywood movies were real treats then. I viewed twice with only two pandesal as lunch the 1957 movie Boy on a Dolphin starring Sophia Loren. I fell in love with her. Every time I went to the bathroom I always saw her face, her pouting lips and sexy behind. Gina Lolobrigida and Brigitte Bardot’s posters I kept at the back of my pillow and had "romanced" them almost each night. Oh wow, I remember.


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