My first Cinemalaya: Will definitely make this an annual thing


Dear Sir,

So I volunteered for this year’s Cinemalaya. Why I didn’t participate (or watch even) for the past 8 years when I’ve been living across CCP for almost a quarter of a century is just beyond me. Anyway, I’m here now, writing this while on duty. It’s day four
of the Festival, largest gathering of independent films in the country. The name’s pretty clever really: Cinemalaya pertains to well, obviously, to cinema; while Cinemalaya means ‘free’ in Filipino. It’s a platform for Filipino filmmakers to create and showcase movies unbounded by the demands and constrains of mainstream media and pop-culture. So if you want to see a feel good formulaic flick, you wouldn’t find that in here. But if you want to see something different, some quality, something that resonates the excellence of Filipino film making in the 70s and 80s, then lets hope you’re in for a good year.

I’ll try to write about the films I’ve seen individually. But right now I want to tell you about the few standout moments I’ve had:

  • Direk Jose Javier Reyes. Probably the first  time I went up to a celebrity and asked for a photo, and it ain’t Lea Salonga.


  • Speaking of Lea, I ran into Gerard Salonga while crossing from Harbor Square. Seriously thought of asking a photo in the middle of the street with moving traffic. It’s the closest I got to his sister…so far.
  • Lobby scanning, people watching, celebrity finding from the second floor balcony every night during gala. Contemplating each person’s destiny while envisioning the moment I’ll be joining the crowd below…as a film maker, aheeee 😉


  • this conversation with a theater crew while I’m on duty. Mid-twenties, looks like an average madlang people with taong kalye (street guy) vibe:

me: Kuya anong tingin mo dito? Maganda? (What do you think? Is it good?) [referring to Babagwa]

theatre crew: Dugyot. (It’s filthy.)

me: Talaga? Pano? (Really? How so?)

theatre crew: Ngayon lang ako nakakita ng ganyang modus. Gumagawa ng fake identity sa facebook tapos manghuhuthot ng pera. Pero maganda yung twist sa huli. Magaling yung nagsulat nito. (Creating a fake facebook account then swindling money from people, this is the first time I encountered such scam. But the twist at the end was clever. The screenwriter is brilliant.) *walks away*

me: *turns to my co-duty* Ano? Galing ng insight ni kuya no, laymans term. (I like his insight, nothing complicated.)

co-duty: Oo nga eh. Simple lang pero intelligent. Hindi mo aakalain. (I agree. It’s simple yet intelligent. Who would have thought.)

  • I witnessed a buyer throw a tantrum while I was inside the ticket office. He was buying from a show that started 45 minutes ago. The film was to be shown only once in the entire festival. Since it already started, tech department already removed it from the system. Thus, ticket officer couldn’t print a ticket anymore. She had to consult her superior.

“Excuse me? What’s taking so long? I’m going to watch a movie that’s already started. You know what I’m the ambassador to Italy. I’m here to watch a show. Your service is so lousy!”

My brows involuntarily rose on that one. I admit that there was a lapse in the service and the officer apologized for the delay (which was less than a minute). But he didn’t have to throw his title and expect to be given VIP treatment. While others waited longer, mostly students and yuppies, when there was some graver tech problem. I was turned off by his arrogance. He just displayed much of his character by that single encounter. If he really is the ambassador to Italy, then I am ashamed that he is representing me and my country. I asked the others in the booth if there were plenty of patrons like him. Too many, they said, and sadly it’s the people who hold positions that are reeking with arrogance. One even pulled out a pistol and placed it before the booth, a disgusting display of power.

  • Mara Lopez’ semi-hysteric reaction when I complimented her work in Debosyon.

“Excuse me, are you Mara?”
“Yes?” She looked at me with smiling eyes. I’m liking this actor.

“Good job, really nice.” Referring to her and Paulo Avelino’s performances. The film’s content was another subject.

“Debosyon? ReALLY? THAANK YOU!!!” She was giddy shaking my hand by now, almost bouncing in 3-inch heels.

That’s it for I now. I hope there’ll be more weird stuff the next few days. I’ll make it a point to do this every year. If I can’t volunteer, then I’ll definitely watch.


I’ll tell you about the films later, I still need to organize my thoughts and feelings. The films are just ahhhhhhhh!!! Really awesome!!!!




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