The moviegoer is the lifeblood of the movie industry. A dwindling tribe, the hyper anemia of the moviegoer is evident in the deteriorating box office figures and declining number of movies produced.
“Hindi naman porke mahilig sa movies ay moviegoer na,” reasons an industry veteran. Unlike in the olden times where movies can be watched only in the theaters, the advanced technology had opened more avenues for movie showing.
A moviegoer is one who goes to the moviehouse, who pays the ticket and who watches the movie not because of his companion but because of the movie itself. Therefore, even the dvd enthusiasts, regardless if pirated or legitimate, cannot be considered a moviegoer.
My mother has been the main influence in the family when it comes to the movies. I had learned how to read Avenue, Life, Dalisay, Ideal (pronounced ee-jal) at pre-schooler age. I could also discern what bus to ride for home. All those because of our trips to the moviehouses.
The author and his mother
The theater was not usually crowded in the first showing before lunch time so my mother would have the opportunity to get the rearmost seat in the orchestra section. And before the movie ended, my father would appear with snacks. He was a Manila Times employee and their office in Florentino Torres was near the downtown area.
I’m sure that my mother had seen all the movies of the dramatic triumvirate of Lolita Rodriguez, Marlene Dauden and Eddie Rodriguez. Drama was number one in her list.
One time at home, after watching a movie, my mother was posing in front of the mirror. When she saw me looking at her, she smiled and asked, “Kamukha ko ba si Lolita Rodriguez?”
The most memorable movie date I had with my mother was when we went to the movies the day after Christmas. I had the chance to pick out special candies from the conveyor, a novelty of Good Earth Emporium in Santa Cruz.
For a fourth grader, it was an experience to bring goodies inside the moviehouse. There were times that I would be so engrossed with my snacks that I wouldn’t even remember the title of the movie.
But on that memorable day, it was really special. I was enrapt in the movie itself because it was a comedy-fantasy that I liked. I could relate with the boy scouts and their misadventures. And who wouldn’t be amused when the boys accidentally discovered a house made of chocolates and candies?
Dolphy, Jr. was a big name to the kids. And Dolphy, of course, was always a big name. The 16-year old Nova Villa was so beautiful that I would imagine her to be Dolphy’s wife. “Masyado namang bata si Nova para kay Dolphy,” my mother would say.
Sa Daigdig ng Pantasya had activated my salivary glands so we went back to Good Earth for another round of the special candies. No worry because it was the day after Christmas and my pocket was loaded.
Due to my abhorrence for the crowds—even then Manila sidewalks were already crowded—I stopped going to the movies and just let my siblings accompany my mother. But the movies they had watched usually became a dinner topic so I was sort of abreast with the times.
My last date in the movies with my mother was in the 1970s. A teenager with no penchant for drama, I naturally declined her invitation. However, with the prospect of dining at Ma Mon Luk or in the nearby Wa Pak, both Chinese restaurants, so I went with my mother and my younger sister.
Engrossed with the peanuts and candies that we had brought along, I was not watching at first. But then I realized that the woman called Liza Lorena had already died. And the man named Dante Rivero was making eyes on the pretty governess played by the upcoming actress with the name Boots Anson Roa.
It was really embarrassing for me to admit that I had lost full control of my tear glands. Blame it on the young Snooky when her face monopolized the screen. The acting of the girl Gina Alajar was also excellent. And the title was so apt—Wanted: Perfect Mother.
My mother, the traditional moviegoer, would also have been a perfect mother if not for the not so good elements around. Raising four boys is no easy job especially when the number was complemented by two capricious daughters.
With the meager salary of my father, they were able to acquire a modest house in Mandaluyong and even bought a car before my father retired. And despite the family expenses, there would always be the once-in-a-while trip to the movie house.
Nady Socorro on her 79th birthday
After spending more than 10 years in the US, my parents came back in 2005. They were both glad to know that I was with the Film Academy. My mother had lost her stride in the local movies so on that Christmas eve, I reinvented myself to be a storyteller in order to update her knowledge.
But it seemed to me that my mother had lost her fondness for the movies. It may be her age or perhaps the technology or even the change in her lifestyle. And I later learned that her bum knee, which was constantly bothering her, was the reason why she wouldn’t make a trip to the theater.
My mother is not really a die-hard movie fan. I consider her a traditional moviegoer because I saw in her the sheer and pure enjoyment in going to the movies. It doesn’t matter if there was a long line to the “takilya,” it doesn’t matter if it was an SRO (standing room only) as long as she liked the story and the cast.
The once traditional moviegoer, before her trip to the hospital
Two years ago, my parents again left for the US to accompany my sister whose green card was approved. On the last week of October, 2009, they again came back and would probably stay for good.
Unfortunately, this time, my mother had totally lost her interest in the movies. Now I realize that it’s not only the video pirates who’s undermining the health of the local movies. Colon cancer too.
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