Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Pinoy Folklore in the City

It was the Frenchman’s idea to go to the SF Asian Film Festival. In my years of living here, it is one of the several local events that I haven’t been to. Even though it has been around for 25 years and I’ve heard great things about it from the local media, it never really appealed to me. The Salvadoran kept insisting I should go to these events to keep intouch with my heritage. The closest thing for me to attending a film festival was seeing an Italian movie as a class activity in my Beginning Italian last semester.

Since the Frenchman lives just a block away from the festival’s main venue, he took the liberty to get three tickets for the last screening of Ang Pamana – one for him, one for the Salvadoran and one for me. Unfortunately, my friend E who is the Frenchman’s significant other, couldn’t join us because of deadlines at school.

The Frenchman was already in queue for the movie when the Salvadoran and I got to the AMC theatre at 9:15 p.m. I could hear Ilocano, Visayan and another incomprehensible language while waiting in line - probably Indonesian or another Filipino dialect. People would look our way and then smile whenever my non-Tagalog-speaker friends try to say Ang Pamana with a Spanish or French twist. I give them an 'A+' for trying.

I also ran into a friend from church who’s into anything Filipino and he’s not even Asian. I am sure I’ll hear what he thinks about the movie when I see him in church on Sunday. On the far left of the theater, there were folks seated on chairs with a yellow sign marked ‘reserved’. We assumed they must be one of the organizers. We found out after the movie that one of them is the director who looks fairly young from our angle.

Ang Pamana is a horror film and makes effective use of Filipino age-old folklores that were passed on to me by relatives who live in the province. At first, I thought this would probably make more sense to Philippine-born audience like me. I was worried that the Salvadoran and the Frenchman wouldn’t appreciate the story even if it is told from an expat’s point of view. The film is in English and with English subtitles whenever Tagalog is spoken. The Frenchman would turn to me, with an inquiring look, whenever the actors speak in their thick Filipino-accented English. With years of hearing Tagalog-accented English, the Salvadoran was just fine. There were times I wish I could pause the movie so I can explain better what was happening. Other than a question by the Salvadoran about the kapre – I gathered they were able to follow the story and enjoyed the scenes so I have nothing to worry about.

On our way home, the Salvadoran asked me if I had seen a kapre before. I said not really but I asked him if he remembers the big mango tree on the vacant lot across the street from my mom's house in Quezon City. He said yes. I told him there are tales that a similar creature once lived there. He paused for a deep breath and then responded by telling me that I am so gullible. I looked back at him and smirked.

I think deep inside he's not as feraless as he seems.


(The AMC Van Ness theaters are located on Van Ness and O'Farrel Sts and is the main venue of the 25th San Francisco Asian Film Festival's screenings. The facade and the interior were renovated and the theater reopened in the summer of 1998.)

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