Weekend Musts (September 18-20, 2015)

If you’re looking for worthwhile activities to do on these dates (September 18-20, 2015), here are three events that you must not miss this weekend.

The first is the 36th Manila International Book Fair, happening till the 20th. The Book Fair formally opened Wednesday, the 16th, at the SMX at the Mall of Asia and is on its third day. Catch it before it closes to get great discounts, special editions, and new releases. Try to come early, if you can, because the lines can be long and the venue fills up quickly.

MIBF 2015

The second is the 30th Negros Trade Fair at the Glorietta Activity Center. Like the Book Fair, this annual trade fair, the longest running of its kind, opened to the public last Wednesday and will wrap up this Sunday. Don’t miss this opportunity to try out Negros’ best food and drinks and check out their handicrafts and other products.

Negros Trade Fair 2015

Both events are happening south of the metro so if you happen to set a date for one, make your whole day worth it by dropping by the other. Save on gas and stay for the day! I’m going to catch up on these events this weekend so if you happen to bump into me hoarding books (I’ll try to complete my Oliver Sacks collection) or chowing down on lumpiang Negros (PhP60/piece at El Ideal Bakery stall), do say Hi!

Last but not the least, the third event: Heneral Luna is still showing this weekend so please don’t forget to watch it. The only way we will ever get local producers to risk their money on great quality, high value films is if we patronize these movies, so bring your family and friends and fill those cinemas!  The good news is that on its second week, Heneral Luna is still showing in 70 theaters so there is absolutely no excuse for missing it.

In parting, allow me to share this post I found on Instagram, with credit to Mr. Ping Medina who shared this first:

Heneral Luna repost

Reposted from IG (@pingmedina)

Happy weekend, folks!



Weekend Cinema

We caught Avengers: Age of Ultron on its first day last Wednesday at TriNoma. My husband and I were able to drag Alex along for the screening, enticing him with the promise of barbecue popcorn and Brothers burgers. Unfortunately, while we enjoyed the movie, both my husband and I felt the sound system at Cinema 1 was off that night. For some reason, it wasn’t loud or clear enough so we ended up missing some dialogue. Well, either the cinema sound system was on the fritz that night or our hearing is going, ouch!

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The IMAX schedule at SM North EDSA this weekend

Anyway, we wanted to watch it again, this time thinking of going all-out with the IMAX immersive experience. Yes, the price of tickets would require us to fork over an additional P200 for each of us (regular cinema’s P250 compared to IMAX’s P450). And yes, we knew that unlike, say, The Dark Knight Rises, Avengers: Age of Ultron was not filmed using IMAX cameras and was simply converted to 3D postproduction. But just imagining that humongous screen- all 15 meters of it- was enough to quiet our second thoughts.

imax 06

As if that was not enough, we learned that the IMAX Theater at SM North EDSA would have 24-hour screenings for this weekend only. Now, how could we say no to that?

Still, the last time my husband and I stayed up late for a midnight first screening of a movie, we were too cross-eyed with sleep to actually enjoy it. So considering our aging body clocks, we opted for what we thought would make more sense: an early morning screening. Five am early, to be exact.

imax 02

I’ve never been to the malls that early, truth to tell, and it felt eerily like being in a scene from Dawn of the Dead (both the 1978 George Romero original and the 2004 remake), where the survivors of a zombie apocalypse hide out in the mall. A♥ and I walked leisurely, amazed to have the mall almost to ourselves. While walking, I quickly scanned the empty stores for possible hiding places, figuring that I’d probably head first to the supermarket for food anyway. Ah, but I digress.

imax 05

The ground floor of SM North EDSA was empty at that hour. (Brain thinking: too many glass walls and zombies can see you!)

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Heading to the theaters on the second floor

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Have you ever seen this flight of stairs without people? Nope!

There weren’t so many people for Sunday ‘s five am screening, which was to our liking. I’d have thought more people of our age group (with our unusual predisposition for waking up early) would be there but before the family seated behind us came, A♥ and I seemed to be the only “old folks.”

The IMAX experience of Avengers: Age of Ultron certainly lived up to our expectations. The sound system was a huge improvement over our first date with Avengers:AOU, allowing us to laugh with the punchlines and double entendres. The larger screen was perfect for detailing action, blowing them up in full detail and rich color. If you’re watching Avengers:AOU before its run finishes, I’d fully recommend doing it the IMAX way. The extra money is definitely worth it.

As far as dates go, this one was unusual in that we’ve never ever taken in a movie at 5am before. A♥ and I have done many things together in our almost 24 years of marriage and I guess when you’ve been with someone far longer than you have been without them, it’s easy to take the things you do together for granted. Watching movies has always been our thing because my husband is a movie addict.

That we continue to enjoy the same things we did many years ago tells me that while many things may change, there are also things that stay the same. Thank God for that. 🙂

Happiness is… (xv) A Soggy Hankie

Les Mis 01Last night, I had the opportunity to watch the film Les Misérables at the Red Carpet screening of Solar Entertainment. Due to open in theaters on Wednesday, January 16, this screening came in the heels of the last-minute cancellation of the much-anticipated premiere at the Resorts World Manila last January 9.

Undaunted by the disappointment of the premiere’s cancellation, fans of the movie musical trooped to SM Megamall Cinema as early as 5:30 in the afternoon. Solar Entertainment, the film’s offical distributor in the country, went all out for this special event with a red carpet (duh!), paparazzi, food and drinks at the cinema lobby. Despite the generous servings and overflowing drinks, I had little appetite, as excited as I was for the movie and nothing else. Although “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Jack Reacher,” and “Life of Pi” had all helped ease the longing for Les Misérables, I had waited long enough. Les Mis 02

By movie’s end, I felt that my wait had been more than amply rewarded. The film was everything I dreamt of and more. I consciously stopped myself from singing out loud, the words sounding so familiar in my ears (my son memorized the libretto when he was six) and yet beguilingly fresh at the same time. My tears ran in rivers.  I had to stifle my sobs at certain parts, keenly aware as I was of the quiet concentration and silence of the people around me. Like me, they were weeping as well.

At the end, the audience gave a hearty, resounding applause. Les Misérables is a real rare gem. What’s more, for someone like me who considers empathy as her super power (haha), it is extremely cathartic.

On the way out, as my husband and I rushed to the parking lot ahead of everyone else, I was still crying. With my head bent low, I did not see until it was too late that a reporter had a microphone thrust in my face. “How did you find the move, Ma’am?” he asked. My face was lined with tears, my mascara had run, my cheeks were blotchy and red and all I could say was “sorry!” But what I really wanted to say was “I think I will cry some more in the car.”

And cry I did.

Bravo, Les Misérables!

Autism And The Movies: We Made History

Originally published in Herword.com on October 1, 2009

We woke up unusually early that day, excited and buoyant. Even Alphonse, who wakes up late most days, didn’t complain when we woke him up. “It’s your day, anak,” I whispered gently to this sleeping baby, all five feet and four inches of him. He stirred a little, blinked a few times, then jumped immediately upright like a coiled spring. Hand in hand, Alphonse and I danced happily, albeit gingerly, while I sang “I’ve got a feeling that today’s gonna be a good  day…” (to the tune of Black Eyed Peas’ “I’ve Got A Feeling”).

It was. On a cloudy, overcast Friday, a day before Typhoon Ondoy ravaged the city and made history, we made a different kind of history.

hk-at-the-movies-copyThey say all big trees come from little seeds and in this instance, it started with a mother’s wish. In April of this year, a mother wrote “Autism and The Movies” for Herword.com; she cross posted this piece in her blog. In it, she voiced her dream of being able to see a movie with her son with autism even just once. She vowed to write letters to Autism Society Philippines and to cinemas around the city, but even before the first letters came out of her pen, she received a hopeful email from ASP’s President, Ms. Dang Koe. Ms. Koe wrote, “As you can see, our ASaP (ASP’s newsletter) Chief  Tiff (Tiffany Tan) follows your blog…How can we work on this? I’m a movie lover too, and would love Gio to watch with us.”

I am that mother.

SFM 03

ASP Pres Dang Koe with the valiant men of SM's Committee for Disability Affairs

But where I was thinking of a smaller test audience, Ms. Koe and  her colleagues at the ASP were already looking at the bigger picture. Within days, they had started corresponding with SM’s AVP for Operations and Chair of SM’s Committee for Disability Affairs, Engr. Bien Mateo. In a matter of months, they had worked out a plan for the first ever sensory-friendly cinema screening in the Philippines (or in Asia for that matter) for children with autism and other disabilities.

Alphonse at the movies

Alphonse at the movies

Sensory-friendly screenings are designed to minimize averse sensory experiences and maximize enjoyment. Low lights are left on during the show,  sound volume is reduced, and film previews are left out. Children can move around and make noise, allowing them the freedom to enjoy the movies without social limitations to hamper their experience. Truly, the autism-friendly cinema or sensory-friendly movie is an innovative approach to autism and the movie experience, and yet, it has only been in existence for a very short time.

In 2007, Ms. Marianne Ross and her seven-year-old daughter with autism were asked to leave a movie theater when Meaghan started flapping her hands and jumping up and down. Ms. Ross turned this negative experience around by jumpstarting a program that aimed to provide a safe entertainment haven for children like her daughter. The first SF movie was a success in November of 2007 and, with support from Autism Society of America and AMC Entertainment, owner of AMC Cinemas chain, the program finally went national in April of this year.

Across the globe, the UK’s National Autistic Society and Picturehouse Cinemas partnered in January 2009 to start their own autism-friendly film screenings. At any one time in England, 16 movie theaters across the country host these screenings once a month. They have gotten so organized that they already have a dedicated page in the NAS website solely for screening schedules.      

When Cinema 3 of SM North EDSA’s The Block SFM 04opened its doors to its patrons on Friday morning, the lines were long. Two hundred students from different schools and institutions (Bridges, ALRES, Cradles of Learners, Immaculate Concepcion SPED, New Hope, Wise Light, Stimulation and Therapeutic Activity Center), all accompanied by their teachers, parents, or caregivers filled the cinema lobby. Alphonse and I were also  invited. Our very first movie felt like a real date.

As expected, our children screamed and cried, and yet, they also laughed. Some walked around and roamed the aisles, yet many more stayed in their seats. Alphonse hooted many times, jumped up and down on his seat, stood up twice to walk around and use the restroom, and flapped his arms more times than Up’s colorful but flightless bird, Kevin. Still, he sat through almost the entire movie and behaved like a seasoned moviegoer, munching on a bucket of popcorn. He gave up only around 15 minutes before the end when the sound of barking dogs unnerved him. Not bad for his very first cinema experience.

SFM 02

Alphonse watching his very first movie, "Up"

I spent more time watching Alphonse than I did the movie, gazing at his face as it expressed emotions, watching his eyes light up in excitement. In truth, I had tears in my eyes the entire time. Holding my son’s hands in the semi-darkness of the movie theater, I felt my heart almost burst with happiness many times.

I think Alphonse and I are definitely luckier than Ms. Ross. I didn’t even have to wait for support from Autism Society Philippines and SM’s Commitee for Disability Affairs. They took it upon themselves to make this possible for my son and for many children like him who have not had the privilege of enjoying a simple movie even once. They made this dream come true, and in the process, made autism history come alive for us. It is this kind of commitment, compassion, and kinship that make their joint endeavors truly worth supporting.

Come and be a part of more history in the making with Autism Society Philippines’ 11th National Conference on Autism on October 24-25, 2009 at the SMX Convention Center, SM Mall of Asia.

Autism And The Movies

hk-at-the-movies-copyEvery afternoon, at around one, Alphonse knocks on the back door and asks to be let in the house. He knocks politely and says “he” rather loudly (“he” is his word for help). When the door is opened, he runs to the upstairs bedroom and hands me a picture card of our television. Then he gets the DVD remote control and fiddles with the buttons before he hands it over to me. This is his way of saying “Please, I want to watch a movie.”

Alphonse has always loved movies, and were it up to him, he would watch the same movie over and over again without ever tiring of it. These days, however, we keep his movies in rotation – one picture a day, we tell him, so he does not fixate on one particular film for long (unlike the time when we didn’t know better and let him watch “The Lion King” daily for a whole year!).

This is a change to his routine, and we are all pleasantly surprised. In colder months, he would spend his class breaks outdoors with more physical activities or just brief naps in his old sofa in the backyard. These days, however, perhaps because of the oppressive midday heat, he is forced to retreat into the shade for a time, and what better way to enjoy this time than with a movie?

His choices in movies are rather predictable, even after all these years. He still loves cartoon musicals best, but non-musicals, whether cartoons or not, are boring to him. We’ve tried to expand his repertoire of favorites by introducing new animated features and more age-appropriate movies, without success. Often, he would just simply leave the room and never come back. Sometimes, though, he would surprise us suddenly, like the time he watched “The Transformers” with us. I think we ended up watching him more than the movie as he hardly ever took his eyes off the television screen. For a moment there, we felt like a completely normal family with teenagers.

This love for movies, however, has never been translated into the outside world. Alphonse has never watched a movie in a real cinema. Once, when he was a lot younger, we tried to bring him to a screening of Mulan, a full-length Disney movie we thought he’d like, but the darkened theater and the deafening sounds were simply too much for his senses, and they completely unnerved him. As soon as the lights were turned down low and the trailers started, he shrieked and cried so loudly that we hurriedly ran for the nearest exit to prevent a full-scale meltdown. He was almost four then. We’ve never tried it again since then.

One can see, even at home, that the same things that bothered him when he was four still bother him today. When we attempt to turn down the lights in the bedroom to evoke a more cinematic ambience, he rushes to the light switches and turns on all the lights in one go. When the sounds are turned up a little too loudly, he is the first to leave the room. Some things change, true, but others remain the same. Movie-watching, apparently, is one of them.

The television is often a source of comfort for many individuals with autism. Not only is it accessible and readily available, but given the individual with autism’s often rigid schedules, this frequently provides the repetitive stimuli they crave for. Movies in cinemas, however, are another matter altogether. Movie theaters are often inaccessible to individuals with autism because these provide too much sensory input (via sound and light) that can overwhelm the person’s senses.

Moreover, because movie-going is almost always a social experience, individuals with autism find it hard to work within the rules of social movie watching. Noises are normally discouraged in theaters, as are frequently standing up, moving around, and making unnecessary body movements. As such, individuals with autism often feel unwelcome in this environment and would avoid it altogether.

Like so many other families with autism in their lives, we’ve long given up on the idea of watching a movie as a family. We’ve learned to sublimate this desire, even if once in a while, you still can hear Big Brother Alex sigh whimsically and say “I wish Alphonse were here with us” on the occasions we bring him to the movies. And yet, unknown to us, this dream is slowly taking shape in other people’s lives, in another part of the world.

I was amazed to learn that autism-friendly screenings in cinemas have been initiated in the United Kingdom, and this is giving me food for thought. Picturehouse Cinemas, a large chain of movie houses in England, has dedicated autism-friendly screenings since January 25 of this year. During these scheduled events, low lights are left on inside the theater, and the volume of the soundtrack is reduced to diminish anxiety and sensory problems. No one makes a fuss when moviegoers move around or make noise; these are all perfectly acceptable. The screenings happen only once a month (schedules are announced beforehand), but for many parents, this is a godsend.

I was thinking, how many Filipino parents with children with autism feel relieved that this is even a possibility? If parents of individuals with autism, aided by our own Autism Society, can petition for even a single autism-friendly run of a movie, I know for sure that my entire family would be first in line. I haven’t the vaguest idea how this will go. Knowing my son, I am sure there’ll be a couple of snorts, some flapping, a lot of screeching, and even generous fits of body hopping, but I would love for him (and for all of us) to have this experience. And if it doesn’t work out, maybe, we could try again another time.

With this thought in mind, I am preparing letters for Autism Society Philippines and for major cinema chains in my city. I am crossing my fingers. I am positively hopeful. Maybe we can even show the world that when it comes to compassion, there is no short supply in this part of the world.

(Column for Herword.com, April 7, 2009)

Family Movie Night

Movies, Kitty, and Me

Movies at the cinema are a rarity in our family life. For one, Alphonse never learned to enjoy movies in a darkened movie theater. The first and last time we brought him to a theater for a screening of Mulan, he started crying as soon as the lights were turned low. A had to bring him out and distract him with other enticements, as his crying grew louder and louder. Then too, the cost of tickets and munch food for four of us and two or three nannies (for Alphonse) can be more prohibitive than an original DVD (I’m with you there, MegaMom!). And lastly, my aching back does not appreciate the contours of theater seats as even the reclining ones offer little comfort. As a result, we watch movies at home, often on a daily basis, with the last one being last night’s Jodie Foster-starrer The Brave One.

Once in a while, however, the wait for a movie’s official release on DVD can seem interminably long. Sometimes, you just have to brave the lines and bear the non-orthopedic seats to get immediate gratification. Such a must-see movie beckons only every so often, and we are always cognizant of its call.

One such movie is I Am Legend, which we watched at the Eastwood Cinemas last January 11. (The one before that was Harry Potter, seen at the IMAX theater of the Mall of Asia sometime late last year, and the one before that was Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, seen at the Shangri-la Cinemas in June of last year.)

I’ve always been partial to Will Smith movies (I still tear up when I watch Independence Day, boo-hoo!) and in fact, I think I was the one who suggested watching it that night. We took a late show to make sure Alphonse was asleep then and had a relative help the nannies watch over him lest he woke up during the few hours we were gone. Fortunately, that night, while he did wake up a few times, he promptly went back to sleep without any fuss. Sometimes, the planets just align themselves perfectly and you just got to grab at this gift and be grateful. 


Ah, but, as usual, I digress. I Am Legend is a movie based on the 1954 sci-fi novel of the same title written by Richard Matheson. It is actually the third film interpretation of the novel, starting with The Last Man on Earth in 1964 and The Omega Man in 1971. While the original story sets the last man alive in Los Angeles, California in the years 1976-1979, this recent reincarnation of the novel relocated the setting to New York City in the year 2012. Again, there have been minor changes made from the book to the movie, but none of them distracts from the basic premise: a plague (a bacterial pandemic in the book and a man-made viral mutation in the recent movie) devastates human population and creates a group of survivors who exhibit the traits of vampirism.I Am Legend poster

In the year 2012, cancer is a thing of the past, thanks to a re-engineered measles virus that had a cure rate of 100%. Within a few months, however, the patients started dying and what was touted as the final cure for cancer became a final solution to mankind. Ninety percent of the population died; nine percent became infected and mutated into “vampires” (although the movie makes no use of this direct reference). The remaining one percent of population who were immune became hunted as food. US Army virologist Robert Neville (Will Smith) remains in ground zero (NYC) to search for the cure. The movie takes off from this, showing Neville’s daily grind as NYC’s sole survivor. The action scenes come from his maddening interactions with the “Dark Seekers” and they are indeed heart-stopping. Yet, I like to think of I Am legend also as a story of spiritual redemption. (See dialogue below to get an idea of what I mean.) Without going into the details, allow me to say that while I would have wished for a different ending, I am heartened by the message of hope and faith in the film. After all, in this transient world, all we really have are hope and faith.

Anna: The world is quieter now. We just have to listen. If we listen, we can hear God’s plan.
Neville: God’s plan.
Anna: Yeah.
Neville: All right, let me tell you about your “God’s plan”. Six billion people on Earth when the infection hit. KV had a ninety-percent kill rate, that’s five point four billion people dead. Crashed and bled out. Dead. Less than one-percent immunity. That left twelve million healthy people, like you, me, and Ethan. The other five hundred and eighty-eight million turned into your dark seekers, and then they got hungry and they killed and fed on everybody. Everybody! Every *single* person that you or I has ever known is dead! Dead! There is no god!

This movie was originally meant to star Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role of Neville (he ended up producing it) and when Alex learned of this, he seized this piece of information to start doing the dialogue in Mr. Schwarzenegger’s Terminator voice (“Hasta la vista, baby!). This never fails to crack us up, and when we’re feeling particularly short-tempered with him, he’ll drop us some lines he’s memorized from the movie (“My name is Robert Neville. I am a survivor living in New York City. I am broadcasting on all AM frequencies. I will be at the South Street Seaport everyday at mid-day, when the sun is highest in the sky. If you are out there… if anyone is out there… I can provide food, I can provide shelter, I can provide security. If there’s anybody out there… anybody… please. You are not alone.”) and he’s got us in the palm of his hand (or at least, until I remember what I was angry about, haha).

Best supporting actress Abbey as SamanthaIf you ask Alex, though, who his favorite character in the movie is, he’ll quickly point to “Samantha” or “Sam,” Robert Neville’s three-year-old German Shepherd (played by brilliant dog actor Abbey). He recounts the reaction of the venerable Mr.P, his drama club adviser, after seeing the film: “The dog acts better than half the boys in the club.” Alex humbly agrees.

“Someday, mom, I will be as good an actor as Sam…”

And I thought he meant Will Smith. 🙂


This is a post in response to MegaMom‘s Tag called “Recent Movie that the Family Enjoyed.”

Rules Of This Tag:
1. Link back the person who tagged you and write what was the movie his/her family enjoyed watching recently.
2. Now your turn to tell about the movie your family had just watched.
3. Tell something about the movie and spoilers are accepted (hehehee).
4. Write anything that has something to do with movies: Trivia, your top choice or favorites and why, your family’s story about your favorite motion pictures, the first film you watched with your husband, any traditional film the family’s been keeping etc…etc…
5. Copy and paste the rules of this meme on your blog and pass the tag to as many friends, bloggers and movie lovers you want. Don’t forget to tell them they’re tagged and leave a comment here if you’re done with the task.

In the spirit of the New Year, I’ll let the people I was thinking of tagging off the hook, just this once, as a New Year’s Day present. Just saving up on karmic goodwill, my friends! 

Prelude to a Tag: Onscreen Romance

Written seven years ago in 2001, this article chronicles our family’s love affair with movies. Just a little prelude, my friends, to share with you the beginnings of our own family ritual: Family Movie Nights.

I never used to go to the movies.

As a child, I grew up with a staple of B movies in the glorious decade of the Betamax. My parents were rather liberal with their children’s viewing fare and gave us discretion over what movies we wanted to watch. My brothers’ choices were those with blood, decapitation and zombies in them, while my younger sisters opted for cartoons.

Between unrestrained violence and an inordinate amount of cutesy babies prancing in circles singing “Maria, Maria, ya-ya-ya-ya-ya,” it was hardly surprising that I lost my taste for the movies shortly after I turned 10.

Fact or Fiction?I remember, however, that as a child, my personal favorites were those comprising the Faces of Death series, you know, those movies on beta tapes that were all about death and pathology.

The rare times our family of seven would troop to the cinemas for an honest-to-goodness full-length movie, it would be to watch Superman and its sequels. So, going to the movies was never ever a family affair. Superman

I never met a certified movie addict until I fell in love with my last boyfriend (now my husband). We weren’t allowed to go on dates for the first two years of our relationship, so watching movies was absolutely out of the question. Well, okay, I must confess, we did see a movie once.

Platoon - first official dateWe went to see Platoon, I remember, but because we were so scared that my parents would find out, we never watched another movie until my dad gave us his permission 20 months later.

We watched a movie or two every week afterwards, but I thought back then that watching movies was just something a couple does to spend time together. Whenever we had some free time, my boyfriend would pick up the paper, open to the movies section and point to the latest one he wanted to see.

Yeah, sure, sometimes he asked me what I wanted to watch, but since I had no firm opinions one way or the other, he had the run of the show. I figured, he loved movies, what of it? He stopped smoking for me and gave up drinking altogether (not that he loved alcohol to begin with).

He loved books as much as I did; he was cute, and he kissed well, so I thought better to let him be with the movies thing. Sure, sometimes I’d fall asleep and drool while watching a movie, but he never took that against me. He always thought I was fun to be with, awake or asleep, at the movies.

Then I married him. I suppose it came slowly enough. My parents bequeathed us a host of brand-new appliances to start us out, and my generous father threw in his extra Sony Betamax player. We started out by renting movies at a nearby video store, but more often than not, my husband still preferred the big screen, a movie date with him and me and his other “girlfriends,” Snickers and Baby Ruth.

When I got pregnant, however, my solicitous husband thought better than to jostle and squeeze his balloon-of-a-wife along the narrow aisles of the moviehouse.

And that was when he really got started.

I knew that my husband loved movies the way I loved Hello Kitty. It was something he enjoyed immensely. He could go on and on about movies he loved as a child, the Star Wars Trilogy and Jaws to name a few.Star Wars Trilogy Episodes IV-VI

He could dissect the characters’ emotions and motivations based on their on-screen interactions and prevailing circumstances. He was as interested in the process by which the movie came about as he was by the final product. He loved the movies for everything they were. Still, rather than attempt to over-intellectualize things, he simply enjoyed the hours of relaxation and vicarious living the movies offered.

He Said, She SaidLike I said, when I got too fat to go out on my first pregnancy, my husband rented movies for us to watch at home. Then he bought movies for us at the mall, kicking off a collection that would dramatically increase in just a few years. I think his first purchase was He Said, She Said, a symbolic commemoration of our status as a certified “till-death-do-us-part” couple.

As his expertise in video hardware increased in proportion to his earning power, he also made personal copies of movies he wanted to collect but could not find original copies of. Pretty soon, what started out as a few Beta tapes in a shoebox gave way to an extensive collection.

Then the Beta format died. When the video stores’ array of Beta tapes dwindled to give way to new VHS stocks, my husband jumped at this opportunity to purchase a VHS player/recorder. What was a collector to do? He made VHS copies of the movies he had on Betamax, adding original videos as he found them.

Simultaneously, his interest in laser discs grew. He was often torn between his laser discs and his VHS tapes; fortunately, we had reached some sort of understanding on the financial liberties he could take with his collection. He bought the Star Wars Trilogy and James Cameron’s movies on laser, as well as the Disney classics, excusing his purchases as gifts for his newborn son. These were his Must-Have movies, or movies he could watch over and over again everyday.

Groundhog DayOf course, sometimes he would excuse his new purchases as being simply too good to pass up, like the time he bought a brand-new Groundhog Day laser disc for four hundred pesos, a steal if ever there was one. So, if you’ve ever seen a grown man dancing on the aisles of Astrovision while holding videos and laser discs, then you’ve probably met my husband.

Pretty soon, my husband’s collection grew to almost video store-like proportions. We still have some old movies on Betamax, though only for sentimental reasons, what with our player having heaved its last breath four years ago.

We have almost two hundred videos on VHS and around a hundred on laser discs. It got to a point where we had to transform our bedroom into his storage and viewing room, and we had to buy new furniture just to accommodate his unwieldy collection.

Most weekends, we had to pull him out of the bedroom to stop him from going through his collection and watching them over and over again, one by one. Most irksome was his love for Titanic and Twister, movies you wouldn’t catch me dead watching.

On days when he was feeling particularly amorous, he would set his chosen format of Titanic (he has both original VHS and laser disc versions) and watch with rapt attention, oblivious to the gagging, retching noises I made beside him. So, on the day my husband declared his intention to curb his movie addiction, I heaved a sigh of relief.Titanic

The truth was, my devious darling stopped buying movies to save up for a VCD player and a DVD player. In the meantime, he satiated his need to watch movies by simply renting at the video store.

And when he finally managed to buy his dream equipment after scrimping on his bonuses and setting aside part of his salary every month for around half a year, he couldn’t resist laying off the software. Needless to say, he was able to build a considerable collection of Chinese movies on VCD and just about everything else on DVD.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that my husband’s favorite store is Astrovision. We’ve been to different branches of this store almost every week this past year, and often, he goes home with one or two chosen DVD purchases. It really is an undying love for him.

I don’t think love for the movies is genetic, but somehow (through osmosis, perhaps?), he’s passed his passion to our eldest son. Alex guards his own DVD collection of Disney movies and Japanese anime with zealous vigilance and vehemently objects at idle threats of selling them off to Disney lovers. Surprisingly, his favorite movie is about twin girls (The Parent Trap), an amazing complement to his Rurouni Kenshin videos.Samurai X

My husband and son gang up on me every night, forcing me to watch a movie they’ve scheduled for the night. Weekends are no different. These days, I have two couch potatoes to drag and pull out of the house. Most of the time, I win handily in what I consider to be a tribute to female persuasive owers. It turns out, however, that he actually lets me win so we can scout for more DVDs. It’s always a compromise, then; he gets what he wants and I get my weekend out of the house.

I’ve been married for ten years this month, and as much as I’d hate to admit it, these movies have added a touch of excitement to our lives.Goonies

When Harry Met SallyTruth to tell, I derive a certain amount of security from knowing that tonight, tomorrow night, or even the night after is another movie night. Another movie night with the loves of my life. Romantic nights with When Harry Met Sally, adventure nights with The Goonies, Sci-fi nights with The Matrix — when I think about how our choices in movies have grown with our marriage, I sigh in bliss.

The MAtrix

But, hey, don’t tell my husband I told you that.


Update (Seven Years Later):

Alex’s tastes in movies have certainly grown with him. While Rurouni Kenshin will always be a favorite, he’s given up The Parent Trap for more adult fare. The Disney movies have been passed on to Alphonse, who will remain forever, a Mouseketeer.

The last of the vhs tapes and vcds are boxed up now. There simply is no more room in the house. DVDs rule our home as we wait for more blu-ray discs and players to flood the market.

And yes, we now have original vhs, vcd, laser disc, and dvd versions of  Titanic.