Na-‘Kita Kita’

“Siyam na beses din akong aasa na hudyat ito sa muling pagtitiwala nating mga Filipino na kaya nating makagawa ng quality films na tatangkilikin at pararangalan maging sa international stage.”

HAYAAN MONG gaya nina Tonyo at Lea, magbibilang ako:

Isa. Isa kang rebelasyon, Empoy. Pinahanga mo kami. Matagal ko nang naisip na higit ka pa sa pagiging komedyante, isa kang artista. Naramdaman ko ‘yon noon dahil ‘ika nga nila, kapag komedyante ka, marami kang hugot, maraming pinagdaanan. Salamat pinatawa mo ‘ko sa sinehan kasama ang pamilya ko ng ilang beses. Maraming pinaiyak ang sulat mo.

Dalawa. Dalawang tanong ang nabuo sa isip ko habang pinapanood kita, Alex: una, umarte ka ba?; pangalawa, bakit parang ang tagal n’yo nang magkasama ni Empoy? Parang ang nangyari eh tinapatan ka ng camera, kinilig at lumabas ang dimple nang natural, at ayun! pelikula. Salamat sa mga patak ng luha mo sa dulo ng obra. Hanggang ngayon, hindi makamove-on yung ate ko sa napanood niya.

Tatlo. Tatlong elemento ang kapansin-pansing angat ang pelikula: unexpected love team, cinematography, at pacing. Pang-international yung dating. Salamat direk Sigrid Andrea Bernardo. Isa kang alamat! Hinangaan ko ang bawat eksena at anggulo. Nakagawa ka ng isang produkto na may kombinasyon ng lahat ng mga nabanggit na kinunan sa ibang bayan.

Apat. Apat ang producers ng pelikula: Piolo Pascual, Direk Joyce Bernal, Erickson Raymundo at Suzanne Shayne Sarte. Maraming salamat sa pagtaya. Sa panahon na nilalangaw ang industriya ng pelikulang Filipino eh naglakas-loob kayong gumawa, magisip, at magpuyat. Salamat sa pagpapanumbalik ng tiwala sa talento natin bilang mga storytellers at creators. Salamat sa respetong ibinigay ninyo sa aming mga manonood. Nabusog kami sa halakhak, lungkot, musika, saging, puso, at tunog ng kampana.

Lima, Anim, Pito. Naglalaro dito ang dami ng beses na pinaalalahanan ko ang nanay ko sa pagbibigay niya ng komento sa mga eksena. Madilim ang sinehan, maraming tao, at oo libre ang senior citizen sa sine sa Makati area.

Walo. Walong minuto bago mag-umpisa, ang haba ng pila para makabili ng cheese popcorn. Sa pagmamasid sa paligid, ilang dipa lang ang layo ng ilang tv personalities na nagaabang: Julius Babao, Bubbles Paraiso, Raymond Gutierrez. Physically fit na nga si Raymond gaya ng nabalita.

Siyam. Siyam na beses kong pinanood ang trailer. Siyam na beses din akong umasa na sana maging blockbuster movie ito ngayong taon matapos ipull-out last minute sa MMFF 2016. Siyam na beses din akong maniniwala na hudyat ito sa muling pagtitiwala nating mga Filipino na kaya nating makagawa ng quality films na tatangkilikin at pararangalan maging sa international stage.

Sampu. Sampung milyong piso ang budget ng pelikula. Inasahan ng mga producers na kikita ito ng 50 hanggang 60 milyong piso. Sa huling ulat, umabot na ito sa 200 milyong piso. Samantalang hindi ang takilya ang sukatan ng value ng isang work of art, gaya ng pangunahing karakter nito sa una, may higit pa sa nakikita ng mga mata. May ipinaramdam ang ‘Kita Kita’ sa mga manonood na matagal nilang hindi naramdaman sa ipinalabas na mga pelikula sa Pilipinas.

6. Accidentally seeing an old friend

“What if it’s a restart for both of you? What if it’s a spark for your lives to be reconnected?”

YES, IT’S awkward. The first few lines matter. But the ineluctable element is surprise. And we all love surprises.

It’s when you see a familiar face on a train, on a bus, in a mall, or at an airport. You ask yourself again and again if you’ve not mistaken. Aware that the only way to get to the bottom of things is to inquire, you look at him or her in the eyes. It’s a risky move. You can either feel like you just saw each other yesterday, like nothing has changed, or the years of the absence of communication took a toll in your bond and you became strangers.

It’s worth giving a try. Because the laughters and tears that have been shared in the past can never be replaced or altered. Experiences can never be erased. What if it’s a restart for both of you? What if it’s a spark for your lives to be reconnected? Approach him or her and discover for yourself if the line is still there. Let the motors of curiosity flow in your veins.

I still remember how I took a chance on an old friend standing just few feet away from me on a running train one day.

I approached her and asked: “Hi. How are you?”

With fascination, she responded: “Great! It’s nice to see you again…”

And the unuttered stories revealed themselves and engulfed us at that moment with hope, joy, and inspiration.

5. The elevator’s available

“But if you’re running late, it can be considered a blessing from above for your wish to be heard. There’s sweat and blame and reasoning going on.”

YOU FELL in love with the thrill of reaching out to something, of being a triumphant being, of defeating time itself. But inside your head, you only have one wish: let the elevator be available for you not to be late again.

An available, working, and sometimes empty elevator doesn’t happen that often especially during rush hour. The building is full of people who use it on their way to the nearby mall or restaurant or just because they want to breathe in fresh air outside the confines of their office. But if you’re running late, it can be considered a blessing from above for your wish to be heard. There’s sweat and blame and reasoning going on. Images pop in your head every time: your boss reminding you of the Code of Ethics of the company for tardiness; the guard who doesn’t miss the chance to inquire what went wrong; and your conscience itself silently telling you that you’re better than this.

            Shift:  9 A.M. – 6 P.M.

            Ground floor:   8:55 A.M.

            4th floor:           8:57 A.M.

            9th floor:           8:59 A.M.

            Time in:             8:59 A.M.

“This will never happen again” you would say. “I promise.”

And it’s a good thing that you work on the 9th floor. Can you imagine the struggle of those assigned on the 32nd floor?

4. Someone offered you a seat

“But for some reason, unexpectedly, someone offered you a seat. You’re surprised, puzzled, and at the same time grateful.”

YOU’RE ON your way home. You’re on the brink of total exhaustion. You wanted to tightly embrace your pillow to forget all the body aches, the outside noise, the unavoidable rancid smell from other commuters, the challenges of the day. You missed your soft, smooth bed that assures you home. But you couldn’t. You stood on a train. When you got in, no seat was available. It’s jam-packed again. It’s hot. You wanted to rest right at that moment. But for some reason, unexpectedly, someone offered you a seat. You’re surprised, puzzled, and at the same time grateful.

There, on that scene, you’re reminded of the goodness of people. You felt more comfortable and relaxed. You listened to your favorite songs. And as you alighted from the train, you stared at the stranger who sacrificed for you and you wholeheartedly offered your gratitude. It was an unforgettable day. It was a gift.

2. You won in a raffle

“And the winner is… (your name).”

BE IT a washing machine, a rice cooker, a Starbucks gift certificate, a bunch of cash, or an SUV, nothing beats the feeling of being a winner. Yes, a winner in a raffle draw that you did not even think about when you attended a party, a TEDx talk, or dragged yourself in a meeting, a conference, or a company event. Everyone stared and cheered for you as if you’re a gladiator who just triumphed over a pack of beasts at the Colosseum. Your heart beat faster and faster. The room erupted with joy. You solemnly followed the rules and voilà! “And the winner is… (your name).” Congratulations!

1. You woke up today

“And leave all the heavy baggage from yesterday to move forward.”

WHAT’S MORE fascinating than that? Isn’t it awesome to realize that you have another chance to make things right, to reconnect and build ties, to laugh and smile and greet the security guard who’s been up all night to secure your workplace?

Declare that today, you’ll do better. Pronounce that you’ll own this day and treat it as if it’s your last. Forget about your shortcomings and failures in the past. Restart. Recharge. And leave all the heavy baggage from yesterday to move forward.

You woke up today and that means you have another opportunity to enjoy life and appreciate everything. Yes, even the little things.

Soulless breathing beasts

My heart bleeds for you tonight. All three of your children have been killed. Multiple stab wounds. A slashed throat. Your wife was allegedly raped. She attempted to run, to seek help but the perpetrators silenced her on her way out, in the doorway. Your blind mother-in-law faced the same fate.

My heart bleeds because of this unspeakable crime that has been committed by soulless breathing beasts to you and to your family. I can’t imagine how the next couple of weeks will be like for you. Your house in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan will no longer remind you of a happy home but of horror. But please remember that there are those who care. There are those who wanted to embrace you, to comfort you. There are those who see you as a man who never backed down from a trial in this gruesome form. And that there are those who will be vigilant for justice to be served.

I am one of them.