It was May in July

Jerome invited me and Anj for some cultural bathing at the 6th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival in Cultural Center of the Philippines.  I remember the first time I went there and digested my first load of indie films.  It was quite exhilarating to see everything five years after.  It was almost like a commencement of sorts.  Like coming to full circle.

And of course, I met the two people who ignited my love for films, Johnathan Rondina (whom I ran into at Mocha Blends by Harbor Square) and our thesis adviser, Flordeliz Abanto, who is know the president of PACE (Philippine Association of Communication Educators).  We had quite a chat and she was exactly the same, the  passionate teacher who knows the arts can change the way you see the world.  It was great to feel the passion I know I’ve lost.

Aldrich was able to join in.  We miss the Chinaman what can we say.  Adah, having nothing to do, tagged along too.  It was quite a spontaneous afternoon.  We were dejected though when we didn’t get to see the short films Jerome wanted to see.  But we did get to see Mayohan by Dan Villegas, screenplay by Paul Sta. Ana.

Mayohan is led by Lovi Poe and Elijah Castillo and the setting is Infanta, Quezon.  Lilibeth (Poe) is a 19-year-old lass of the province, coordinating the May-End Dance.  Niño (Castillo) is a 15-year-old binatilyo from Cubao, coming for a visit to his grandmother with his aunt.  Amidst the festivities, he becomes the focal point of the town’s Dance.

The film was a good tickler.  It had the right mix of comedy and melancholy love affair that happens only to teenagers and only during  summer.  Even the rain had a sweet, loving touch to the film.  It  reminded me of Red Shoes, with the sincerity of the boy’s admiration exhibited silently and loudly at the same time till the very last minute.

Poe’s acting is what surprised me the most.  It’s not that it was compelling and moving; it was the fact that it was just right.  She played the lovely lady in the barrio who didn’t really know or care that she’s the prettiest of them all.  She was strong and delicate at the same time, which is why Castillo’s charming young gentleman demeanor always felt the need to protect her and look after her.  And Ping Medina?!  Let’s just say he coined the next best catch phrase after Joey Tribiani’s “How you doin’?”  So, “hel-lo.” :)

The last I’ve heard of Infanta was when it was struck by tragedy.  The cinematography managed to capture the beauty of that deluge.  The lush greens, the refreshing water… even the brown murky sand seemed to play a vital role in courting Lilibeth.  It was almost like the entire production staff coordinated the entire locality to look ordinary and verbose all at the same time.

For the first time in 11 months, I didn’t like the fact that I lived in Quezon City.  The festival will run till July 18, and I really want to watch the gala nights for the other films.  I guess a part of me want to see if the people we interviewed five years ago are still the same people inspiring the newest breed of writers and directors to change the Philippine film industry standard.

And of course, to see if I made a big enough impact to their lives (like they did in mine) and they remember me too.

For a complete schedule of the festivities, click here.

Photo credits:
Mayohan Facebook  page

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