Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Remembering FPJ

Most Filipinos love stories, telling them, listening to them, or watching them. Filipinos who do not enjoy movie watching are quite rare. I remember the moviehouses in the barrios where we used to go during summer vacations. Most of these had double programs. Your ticket bought you two movies to watch. A few had triple programs. We saved up for those triples, especially if they starred the late Fernando Poe Jr. who should have turned 74 today. We came in before lunch and came out six or so hours later. My kuya (older brother) and I are FPJ fans. In grade school I saw my kuya, on two occasions, apply the FPJ rapid-punching technique on two bullies bigger and taller than him. The technique worked. I was 7 when I first went to see a movie by myself. It was FPJ’s Asedillo. It was the first movie I saw that painted a totally different picture of America, and Manuel Quezon, and the period of American occupation many among our elders, even today, longingly call “peacetime.” It was the movie that introduced me to the Sakdal uprising of the 1930s. I was in high school when I saw Aguila. I consider it one of the best movies Philippine cinema has ever produced. Aside from FPJ, it had Christopher de Leon, Jay Ilagan, Sandy Andolong, Eddie Garcia, Johnny Delgado, Charo Santos, Amalia Fuentes, and a host of top caliber artists. Basil Valdez sung the theme song. The 3 ½ hour movie presents a stark portrait of Philippine society and offers at least four ways of dealing with its reality: join the underground, go to America, learn to deal with it, or live with the indigenous communities. If you haven’t watched Aguila and Asedillo. Go and do so. Then you will know why those who call FPJ the Arnold Swarzenegger of the Philippines don't know what they're talking about. And as you watch Asedillo and Aguila (both are available online), remember that FPJ was busy helping prepare relief goods for distribution on the night he suffered a massive stroke. Better still, we can remember FPJ's birthday by celebrating our birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions by reaching out to those whose only hope is God, by contributing the best we can offer to those who need God the most, by being each other's keepers the best way we can. Especially today.
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