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Now showing

By Jullie Y. Daza

Moviegoers pay anywhere from R250 to R280 to go inside a dimly lighted, airconditioned theater to lose themselves for about 100 minutes in a world of drama, fantasy, romance, action, crime, comedy, even horror and violence, depending on the title or its promise of relaxation, recreation, whatever.

One lazy, boring day during the Metro Manila Film Festival we decided to watch two movies, preferably in one location, but given that the second theater had reported a glitch in its system, we moved to another mall in another city. Two movies in two moviehouses in one day – sensory overload! – not due to what was in the movie but the program that came before it.

In a cineplex in Marikina, this is what appeared on the screen before the main feature. Intro to the national anthem.

The national anthem. MTRCB infomercial against violence, using violence to teach children and adults the difference between virtual and real-life violence. A couple of trailers of American movies. A slew of commercials: whitening soap; dishwashing liquid; a brand of cellphones. Brillante Mendoza’s short film on an OFW’s remittances being squandered on deadly drugs by her beloved son. Another infomercial on criminals landing in jail, the last one being a camcording thief, the whole scene filmed in slo-mo, whatever might be the artistic reason. MTRCB explaining how films are rated. Another short film, this one about Martial Law.

In Quezon City, this is the prologue, just as agonizingly, torturously long, with a few variations in subject matter.

Voiceover asking patrons to turn off their phones. Infomercial warning camcording felons of the law against piracy.

Map showing location of fire exits. In black and white, a guide on how patrons should conduct themselves during an
emergency: Don’t panic but walk like fashion models on the catwalk. Message on mental health. Message on climate change. Message on privacy from the National Privacy Commission. Advertisements of a school, the Lion King stage musical, a newspaper. Infomercial on criminals landing in jail, in slo-mo. MTRCB ratings explained. Omnibus trailer of MMFF entries. Greetings from MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim. Trailer of The Two Mrs. Reyes(es). Trailer of Meet Me in St. Gallen.

Incredibly, movie fans are expected to be educated by all those appeals, reminders, messages!

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