PAMPANGA

Sangil: Oh, wow! I remember!

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MOVIE theaters are closed for almost a year now since the government started addressing the pandemic crisis. Thank God, there's the Netflix and YouTube. Enough to fill the space left void by full length movies shown on wide wide screen of movie houses. I love movies since I was young. And up until now. (In my teen years, I sat at the topmost seat on the ill lighted balcony area with my girlfriend and we whispered sweet nothings). Even I was still in my shorts, I begged Kong Cosme, our jeepney driver neighbor, to take me as his helper. He was plying the Porac-Angeles route. As a result, I became known to all jeepney drivers in my hometown, and got free rides. On Sunday, I go to Angeles to spend the whole day looking on display movie ads of theaters. I love going to those with double features. Orchestra ticket was only 25 centavos. Repeat: twenty five centavos!

There's a short chapter in my life that when I look back I cannot help but laugh at myself. 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 San Juan. 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, Ramon Revilla, Carlos Salazar, 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 second billing.

I was a movie fan then and now, only today I am more discriminating. I seldom go to movie houses now because it cost more. Particularly if you really want to be seated more comfortable but the IMAX theaters cost more. In my youth an orchestra ticket either in Angeles City, Guagua or San Fernando or even in Metro Manila theaters it 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 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, and the laptops, iPads and even cellphones 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 "romanced" them almost each night. Oh, wow I remember!


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