Cinemalaya Day 2: Instant Mommy

No picture today because I was a loser and didn’t bring my good camera to take Eugene Domingo’s picture. I was also a chicken and didn’t have the balls to ask Angel Aquino to have a picture taken with her. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So today, I was scheduled to watch Instant Mommy with a friend. We went there for the 12:45pm showing. It was at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (the CCP Main Theater) and today was apparently the Gala “Night” for Instant Mommy. The cast and crew were there and so it was quite a special experience. This was actually the second time that I was in the same room as Eugene Domingo. The first time was when we watched Ang Babae sa Septic Tank and it was revealed that she was in the audience with us after the end of the showing. She was as warm and approachable as ever though again, I wasn’t able to take any pictures. Such is my crippling introversion.

Anyway, so what about the movie?

Instant Mommy is directed by Leo Abaya and starring Eugene Domingo, Yuki Matsuzaki and Rico J. Puno. The story is about Bechay, who is a wardrobe mistress involved in the making of TV commercials. She has a Japanese boyfriend with whom she is going to have a baby with. Misfortune strikes, unfortunately, and Bechay miscarries. Now, she has to do something in order to keep her boyfriend’s interest.

It seems like such a typical premise and one so familiar in our society. We’ve heard of Filipino women having foreign boyfriends and going to great lengths to please them.  But this is Cinemalaya so you have to expect that there’s a twist here somewhere. Or twists. I didn’t really know what to expect and I didn’t really bother trying to think of how the story will resolve. I had a nice surprise at the end and it was quite satisfying in a realistic sense. There was shock and hurt for Bechay and I felt for her after everything she did and went through, but still it was a good ending, both for her and the story.

Eugene Domingo was great. She hadn’t lost her spark. She could make you laugh and cry where it was appropriate and it was so easy to sympathize with the character she played. It was also quite cool to see Rico J. Puno acting. I thought he was very convincing as Bechay’s father and it was his way of working with little things about his characterization that made it work.  This movie also really utilized its supporting cast well. Hardly anyone was wasted, though I had to wonder what Earl Ignacio’s character was really for.  And of course I have to give special kudos to Yuki Matsuzaki. He did a great job at his role, especially the effort he put into speaking some Filipino (which was especially hilarious at one point of the film) and it was just really, really awesome how they were able to cast a Hollywood actor to play his role. And he and Eugene had kilig. They were actually quite cute together, with great chemistry, and they worked so well with each other, even when most of their interactions was over Skype video calls in English, Filipino and Japanese.

Instant Mommy is another Cinemalaya gem and I commend Eugene Domingo for another job well done.

Cinemalaya Day 1: Sana Dati and Ekstra

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Cinemalaya 2013 officially started for me yesterday though I have been preparing for it for weeks. I paid close attention to ticket sale dates and before that, my friends and I were already planning which entries to watch. In the end, I decided to watch six entries this year, which will probably be the most I’ve ever watched in one Cinemalaya festival. It was made possible by buying tickets in advance through Ticket World which had convenient branches in National Bookstore. A week or so before the start of the festival, I was ready with tickets and I didn’t even have to wait in line long. So this is some advice that I would like to impart to people who don’t want to be hassled by buying tickets: buy them ahead of the screening dates. You would thank yourself later because honestly, it’s not only getting the tickets that could cause you a hassle.

Getting to CCP itself was always a bit of a stressful experience. I guess I could have left the house earlier, but I also wasn’t looking forward to standing in line before they let people into the theater. So instead, I decided to leave the house 45 minutes before the start of the film. Because of heavy traffic along Vito Cruz, I ended up getting there after 35 minutes. And to think I didn’t live that far from CCP.

I still had a few minutes to find the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino where I was going to watch my first film at 12:45pm. Eventually, I managed to discover that this was the Little Theater. It was quite interesting to me that the ushers couldn’t tell you where the exact theaters were, like they didn’t know them by name, but if you showed them your ticket and they read the name of the film you were going to watch, they could tell you where to find the place it would be screened. I don’t know if this is a normal thing, but there you go.

The first film that I watched was Sana Dati directed by Jerrold Tarog starring Lovi Poe, Paulo Avelino and TJ Trinidad. The film is about a girl who is about to get married but seems to not be looking forward to it at all. Her feelings towards the marriage is further exposed by the wedding’s videographer who has his own hidden agenda for taking the job. This movie is the third and last installment in the Camera Trilogy and it’s made in a way that you don’t need to watch the other two films to understand what was going on, which I thought was a good and a bad thing. It was good because you wouldn’t get lost and you would get what it was that happened in the other two movies that then led to the happenings in this third installment. Meanwhile, I thought it was bad because it kind of got dragging and slow in parts. I just felt that there were some scenes that didn’t need to be shown but maybe that was just me. The plot, however, saved itself from being predictable a couple of times and that was a job well done, making the movie seem more realistic in a way that was just right and not downright disappointing. Then there was the scenic shots which made the movie beautiful to watch. The movie was pretty good, though, not at all like I expected. I was intrigued by the film at first because it featured Lovi Poe and it was intriguing to see her in an indie film. I thought she did a pretty good job of handling the many emotional turns the film took and by the time it was done, there were these feelings of loss, sadness and hope that left my friend and I putting our hands over our hearts and going, “Awwww.” It may sound juvenile but that was just how we were able to express how we felt about the film’s ending. Special Cast Kudos: Ria Garcia as Jamie, the little sister. I think she’s my favorite character, haha. I just enjoyed how she played her part. I thought she was really genuine. The typical little sister but there’s more to her than that.

The second film was Ekstra directed by Jeffrey Jeturian starring Vilma Santos and a star-studded cast that includes Cherie Gil, Piolo Pascual and Marian Rivera. Honestly, it seemed like an absolute crime if you didn’t even think of watching this one. You don’t see Governor Vi make movies anymore, so this was a must-see, especially given the premise of the film. Ekstra is about a woman who is employed as an ekstra, a bit player, in movies and TV. We get to witness one of her days at work for a popular TV drama and the kind of conditions she and her fellow ekstras put up with to earn a living. It was more lighthearted compared to Sana Dati but the message it tried to convey was probably more relevant. In this movie, we get a front seat view of what happened behind the scenes of a glamorous TV drama, the relentless power and control struggles and the stressful working conditions that actually didn’t look glamorous at all. Show business wasn’t all glitz and glamour and this film showed it very well, especially for the ekstras who were treated like cattle. Governor Vi was of course excellent, whether she was laughing along with her fellow ekstras or having an emotional, vulnerable moment. I also decided to watch the film when I saw Cherie Gil in the trailer and of course she was fabulous, an iconic kontrabida. She has uttered my favorite line from the festival so far: “I wasn’t born yesterday. I was born beautiful. You were just born. PERIOD.” And the script was just pure gold. It was witty and funny, candid and poignant. It was delivered so naturally by the actors that you would hardly think that so much thought was put into it and it was quite obvious that there was when you took the time to listen. Ekstra was also more than I expected. I expected to laugh and enjoy myself and I did. I didn’t expect to come out of Tanghalang Huseng Batute feeling kind of melancholy. The twist near the end was surprising but oh so effective. Special Cast Kudos: Vincent de Jesus as Vincent, the Assistant Director. Ang taray ng lola mo! But he was really, really good. The way he delivered his lines were so natural and it was so easy to be annoyed with his character, but he made him sympathetic. And Tom Rodriguez because he was a surprise and was just so handsome. (Sorry na, biased, hahaha!)

For tomorrow, Instant Mommy. Let’s see if Eugene Domingo continues to deliver.

A Conscious Effort

This past weekend, I made the conscious decision to start eating healthier and exercising more. While I may not be as fat as I used to be when I was in college (which was the time that I was at my fattest), I still felt that I needed to get back to healthier habits. I have already discussed taking better care of myself in a past post, but I this weekend I really sat down and thought of a plan. As my mother says, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

First and foremost, I made rules for myself concerning food and my eating habits:

  1. Make healthier food choices. I should do my best to eat more fruits and vegetables and focus on fish and chicken for protein. I should also avoid processed foods as much as possible.
  2. No eating out/sweets on weekdays. There’s a lot of temptation during the weekdays, especially since I pass the Taft/St.Scho/DLSU area once I get home. I really should stop checking out restaurants after work because I end up sitting down and buying things to eat. Weekends can be cheat days, but even then I shouldn’t go crazy and eat whatever I want.
  3. Stick to tea and hot drinks. I have gotten back into the habit of drinking coffee again and I should cut down, I think. ‘Need to go back to drinking my teas again. No softdrinks or juices either. Iced tea is also a no-no.
  4. Drink more water. Water makes everything better for the most part.
  5. Eat at home. Or at work, since we have free food at work, haha. This way, it’s easier to control what I eat and spend money on.
  6. Avoid fried and fatty food. Go back to eating roasted, grilled or steamed food for the most part. Food with soups are your friends.
  7. PORTION CONTROL. Mahirap mag half-rice pero ‘di ito nakamamatay. Wag maging madrama. Gusto mong pumayat at maging healthy, di ba?
  8. Enjoy eating out with family and friends. Food is best enjoyed with others. If there is an occasion, eat what you want, but otherwise, stick to the plan.
  9. Never go hungry. Hunger makes the “die” in “diet” true. When you’re hungry, eat, but not too much.

As for exercise, I have decided to try my hand at yoga since I’m advised not to undertake high impact exercises. For now, I am doing it at home. I started this morning and wow, I’m apparently not as flexible as I thought I was, haha. But it was good, very relaxing but also energizing. I’ll try to do it three times a week to start and then let’s see what happens from there.

“Good Morning, Ms. Yambao!”

One of the surreal but nice things about living so close to my grade school is how I sometimes see my old teachers. Like this morning as I came from a short walk to buy some things for breakfast. I was walking down our street when I saw one of my grade school teachers walking toward the direction of the school. I knew her name though I had a feeling she didn’t have the same last name anymore from years before when she was my adviser. She was younger then and single, probably just starting out and of course she looked different from how she looked now but still very distinctly recognizable. I have seen her walk with her daughter before, her daughter who also went to my school and wore the same uniform I did at that age. Today, her daughter wasn’t with her and I wondered if she had grown up too and was in high school already by now. Was she still at home, taking her time with going to school as it was very early yet? Who knew.

It only took a few seconds for us to pass each other. She was talking to her companion (another teacher, maybe. She doesn’t look familiar at all) and quite early for classes that were to start before 8 in the morning. I was on my way back home for breakfast with my mother with a bag of bread and other food stuffs in my arms. She hadn’t seen me and I was already smiling with nostalgia, trying to remember exactly at what grade was she my class adviser.

I greeted her good morning as I passed, calling her by her maiden name. It was like grade school all over again for me and it made me smile wider with a mixture of mischievous glee and wallflower shyness. She greeted me back but was of course a bit startled and confused at having a random 20-something greet her in the middle of the street. I probably looked very different from her usual crowd of pre-teeners and when she was my teacher, I was definitely a lot smaller than I was now.

As I walked away, I wondered if she tried to remember who I was, going back a decade and a few years to her old students, trying to fix a name to what she saw of me. She probably won’t be able to, given how many of her students have come and gone through the years, but that’s okay. It was nice just to have seen her and to be able to greet her a good morning like I would have done years ago.