By Vince Ragay
In a previous article which focused on acting, this writer said that movies “make us feel, not only the good but also the bad, depending on the final intent. Hence, we may feel old or young at heart, angered or pacified, indifferent or sensitive to the feelings of others. Without these vicarious states, watching films would become nothing more than reading the newspaper through straightforward, heartless documentaries.” Furthermore, we confidently declared that “we honor our actors because we want to uplift our being human from that of being a simple expression of existence into an achievement of a living and perfected art…. Films … come close to capturing the essence of life and living itself. And with the aid of modern technology, we are now able to transcend drab realities to enhance our perception of the physical and the spiritual world, of things and ideas, of what is and what can be.”
Acting, as a human art, has surreptitiously taken a prominent seat with the recent “apology” of GMA as well as the passionate retort of FPJ’s widow, Susan Roces. To clarify things, we do not say both were merely acting out before the cameras although many on either side have voiced out such accusations. Which makes it very interesting not just for the social or political student but even for the moviemaker. For what more compelling source of study of the human nature than what we now see being played out before everyone’s eyes? Whether as inspiration for fiction or documentation of history, these events deserve our undivided attention.
On the one hand, we saw GMA, tearless though blinking as if trying to bring on that drop of tear, say in apparently rehearsed measured cadence, “I am sorry.” At which very moment, the camera closes in on her fortyish-looking face, seemingly unruffled by years of social and political hassles. This was GMA we had never seen before. And we felt not just her anguish but also her great discomfort of the moment. And thus, some called it courage. Others dismissed it as poor acting.
Whether Lupita Kashiwahara or any of Malacanang’s media-handlers had anything to do with it or not is no longer important. What matters is that most people already had formed their own judgments based on the three weeks of media coverage prior to her admission of her “lapse”. Perhaps, for those few who may be suckers for soap, her performance (whether sincere or not) may have swayed them to accept the apology at face value. (Pun is accidental.) For some, her action may have led to their withholding judgment until all facts would have been gathered. It was as if everyone took the seat of the juror on Luna or Famas Awards Night and either voted “best actor”, “bad acting” or “puede na”. Hence, considering what was at stake not only for GMA but also for her allies and what they may claim to be for the welfare of the country, in Gloria’s inglorious debacle we find real life played out not in the limited bounds of the silver screen and in the fleeting moments of a movie’s transit but in a national scope that will spell the future for our dejected country.
Then there was Ms. Susan Roces’ much-applauded speech at Club Filipino as she took up the cudgels for her late husband and filmdom’s giant, FPJ. Although reading from a manuscript, she appeared to have total control of her words as well as her emotions. In fact, Justice Secretary Gonzales waved this off by saying, “She is used to reading scripts!” And there is truth in that except that coming from the other side of the fence it would seem to say that every actor is not capable of expressing true emotions. On the contrary, actors spend so much time not merely copying emotions but embodying them to the point that they attain a vicarious experience. They become possessed by their characters and therefore give us a credible portrayal of reality. Hence, the reason we give “best actor” awards.
But in the case of Ms. Roces, she no longer needed to be possessed by anyone’s character for she already bore in her heart and her countenance the grief and injustice that life had dealt her with. Her displayed wrath, whether dignified or not under the circumstances and whether acceptable or not within the legal constraints of the rules of the land, may have come with years and years of role-playing experience but obviously — and common sense would also bear us out here — coming from the very core of her own heart and soul. That she could do it with sincerity as well as passion added colorful drama to what she is living out beyond the bounds of mere film acting.
As for the truthfulness and validity of Ms. Roces’ allegations, we leave it the people to make up their minds and to the inevitable unfolding of the conflict that has brought about this clash of characters, beliefs and emotions in which we all are captive albeit unwilling participants and observers. Like faceless people watching in the darkness of a moviehouse.
Indeed, acting in movies enables us “to transcend drab realities to enhance our perception of the physical and the spiritual world, of things and ideas, of what is and what can be.” But when reality overruns fictional or make-believe images, acting simply becomes being and doing. Some may “be true” or “do right” in a more dramatic way than others. What counts is that they add to the diminishing store of goodness and truthfulness in the world. Some may “be untrue” or “do wrong” while trying to appear true or right, for even the Devil acts well. For in truth, he is the best actor ever for he wears sheep’s clothing to deceive as many as he could.
In the end, our personal judgments may only be founded on the fruits of people’s actions and lives. That much we have been allowed to do. Just as we honor actors for good performances, we honor people for their good deeds. And good deeds, just as evil deeds, are as distinguishable as light and darkness. But only for those who have trained themselves to discern right from wrong. Unfortunately, we as a country have been fed with too much propaganda and false promises for so many years by so many politicians and even with so many inconsistent lives of undisciplined star celebrities that we no longer know which is real or not, which is true or not, which is good or not. And therein lies our tragedy as a nation.
We idolize actors as if they were gods and goddesses and forget that they too are capable of wrongdoing like all of us. And yet we also forget that they are capable of great things like the rest of us. We follow politicians like they were lords and masters and forget that they are often the worst criminals of all. And yet we also forget that they are capable of bringing us to freedom and progress. As Rizal had said, our only hope rests in educating our masses. How potent a tool then can movies become if the ones who make them only knew how to use them to achieve this dream of Rizal.