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Metanoia at pagbabagong-anyo bilang Tomasino

Sa libo-libong bagong Tomasino sa loob ng QPav, libo-libong kuwento rin ang kanilang baon. Bagamat sila’y isa-isang tumawid sa Arch of the Centuries, sila’y mag-uumpisa ng bagong alaala bilang kasapi sa iisang pamilyang Tomasino. At ang Arko, lumipas man ang daan-daang siglo, ay nagsisilbi pa rin ayon sa kanyang diwa: pintuan tungo sa maunlad at maliwanag na hinaharap.

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Kuha ni John Tristan Deang/TomasinoWeb.

Mula sa kalye ng España, araw-araw bumabati sa mga tao ang isang tarangkahan sa gitna ng berdeng hardin na nililim-liman ng mga puno na mayroong nagsisipang-abot na mga tangkay. Gawa sa naglalakihang bato, mayroong mga ukit ng kerubin, at mga markang nagpapakita ng kaniyang makasaysayang nakaraan. Sa mga ordinaryong araw, panglagusang ito’y tahimik na nagmamasid sa mga mag-aaral na naglalakad patungo sa kani-kanilang mga klase, ni-isa’y walang oras sumaglit at hangaan ang isang halimbawa ng istilong-Baroque na arkitektura sa Unibersidad. Ngunit, pagsapit ng buwan ng Agosto, ang inskripsyong nakaukit dito ay naiisabuhay, “Gateway to the History of the finest breed of Filipino.”

Ilang dekada na ang nagdaan mula nang mailagak sa kaniyang kasalukuyang puwesto ang makasaysayang Arch of the Centuries. Sa Intramuros, kung saan ito nagmula, nagsilbi itong daanan ng mga noo’y ordinaryong tao, tulad natin, ngunit sa kalaunan ay naging mga marangal at tinitingalang mamamayan ng bansa. Ngayon, ang pagtawid sa ilalim ng Arko ay simbolo na ng pagiging isang ganap na Tomasino at  isang tradisyon na iilan lamang ang mga masuwerteng makakasaksi at makararanas nito. Metanoia o pagbabagong buhay, at transpigurasyon o pagbabagong-anyo—ito ang mga salitang angkop sa paglalarawan ng taunang pagtawid sa makasaysayang Arko bilang Tomasino.

Isang himala kung maituturing ang napakatinding sikat ng araw, sapagkat madalas ang pag-ambon o kaya nama’y malakas na pag-ulan nitong mga araw na nagdaan. Hindi inaalintala ang tirik na araw, matiyagang pumila sa labas ng kani-kanilang mga gusali ang mga bagong mag-aaral habang nag-aabang ng kanilang hudyat na lumakad papalapit sa Arko.

Excited at siyempre scared kasi ‘yun ang magsi-signify ng pagiging college student ko. Nakakatakot man isipin o nakakakaba pero college doesn’t have to be labelled as something scary since maraming pwedeng ma-experience at magawa so I’ll just enjoy it,” pagbahagi ni Erwin Guillarte mula sa College of Architecture ng kaniyang nadama bago tumawid sa Arko.

Takot, kagalakan, at nag-uumapaw na tuwa—iyan ang mga kadalasang sagot ng mga mag-aaral  kapag tinatanong kung anong kanilang nararamdaman, dahil sa ilang saglit lamang, magiging ka-isa at parte na sila ng kasaysayan sa pagsunod sa yapak ng mga magigiting na Tomasinong minsan ay tumawid rin sa ilalim ng Arko.

“Masaya kasi, I’ve been waiting for this ever since I enrolled and parang ang fulfilling na this is like the start of my UST journey na,” ayon kay Czarina Custodio mula sa College of Education sa nadama papasok ng arko.

Lalong naramdaman ang kakaibang enerhiya sa loob ng Unibersidad nang malakas na hinampas ang mga naglalakihang tambol, sabay sa indayog ng iba’t ibang sagisag o cheer ng bawat fakultad o kolehiyo; mistulang itong naging dagitab na nanunuot sa kaibuturan ng kanilang mga damdamin at humihimok sa kanila na sabihin ang mga katagang: “Tomasino Na Ako.”

freshie 2018

Kuha ni Benjie Paulino/TomasinoWeb.

Matapos ang ilang minutong paghihintay, isang pagbabagong-anyo o transpigurasyon ang naganap sa mga masusuwerteng mag-aaral na matapang na tumawid sa Arko. Mayroong ilan na hindi napigilan ang emosyon at naluha, at mayroon din namang halos madapa na, makuhaan lang ang pambihirang sandaling iyon. Agad silang nagtungo sa Quadricentennial Pavilion (QPav) para sa misang idadaos para sa espesyal na selebrasyong ito.

“[..] Parang naging ibang tao; parang nabigyan ako ng hope maging isang mabuting Thomasian. Yun na yung start ng pangarap ko, na-open yung heart and mind ko na ito na yung chance na magiging Thomasian na ako,” paglalarawan ng mga freshmen na sila Lorraibe Suarez, Jirah Rosario, Kiya Undan, at Riva Baring, mula sa Fakultad ng Sining at Panitik, ng kanilang naramdam matapos ang pagdaan sa makasaysayang Arko.

Nakakatuwang isipin na ang taunang pagtawid sa Arch of the Centuries ng mga Tomasino noong araw na iyon ay tugma sa pista ng transpigurasyon sa banal na Simbahang Katolika kung kaya’t sakto sa okasyon ang homiliya ni Rev. Fr. Richard Ang, O.P., Pangkalahatang-Kalihim ng Unibersidad.

So, as you pass through your college life may you lived through a change and a transformation. A wise man once said, ‘The path of greatness requires a transformation to your higher self,’” aniya.

Tulad sa transpigurasyon ni Hesu Kristo, mula sa pagkakatawang tao tungo sa kabanalan sa harap ng kanyang alagad, hindi magiging madali ang karanasan ng mga bagong salinlahing Tomasino. Ipinapaalala ni Ang na sa oras ng kagipitan sa pag-aaral, ang mga ala-ala ng mga sandaling ito ang maghihimok sa mga Tomasino na magpursige at lumaban para sa kanilang pangarap.

This is not just your moment. This is your transfiguration moment,” dagdag niya.

Sa libo-libong bagong Tomasino sa loob ng QPav, libo-libong kuwento rin ang kanilang baon. Bagamat sila’y isa-isang tumawid sa Arch of the Centuries, sila’y mag-uumpisa ng bagong alaala bilang kasapi sa iisang pamilyang Tomasino. At ang Arko, lumipas man ang daan-daang siglo, ay nagsisilbi pa rin ayon sa kanyang diwa: pintuan tungo sa maunlad at maliwanag na hinaharap.

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Sila-Sila in its spectrum

Being under the constant waves of change, companionship paves through distances and personal struggles. The movie emphasizes that ‘ghosting’ also happens between friends and rekindling episodes are a challenge.

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Screengrab from Sila-Sila movie trailer

Giancarlo Abrahan’s entry for Cinema One Originals Film Festival Sila-Sila is a groundbreaking film that sprouts a queer narrative molded by queer people. Anchored to the intimate stories of real people, this ghosting film pierces through the lens of post-breakup experiences.

Its lead actors, Gio Gahol and Topper Fabregas had a harmonious rhythm as Gabriel and Jared inside one frame. With Gab being helplessly displaced and Jared as someone who craves settlement, they were in an endless loop of push-and-pull, making every scene burst in different colors of expectations.  

The film revolves around the story of Gab (Gahol), as he tries to reconcile with his friends (Phi Palmos and Dwein Baltazar) and his ex-boyfriend, Jared (Fabregas) after ‘ghosting’ them for almost a year. Fueled by guilt and regret, the old lovers find themselves igniting a fire that once burned the bridges that connected their lives.

Five minutes in and the sensual relationship between Gab and Topper will cuff the audience with its bare exposure of same-sex actualities. These characters played by both theater artists allow the scenes to flourish with remarkable nuance.

The scenarios in the film allow you to peek at realities that manifest through Gab’s life as a person who fails to find his roots being settled in one place. As his portrayal walks you through the story of uncertainties, the progress of the film lets you trace into a deep contemplation whether or not you may be the Gab or Jared in your own story.

Despite having fragments of scenarios that lowers the momentum of the film, it serves as a breath of fresh air as Gab undergoes the phase of vacillation. Gab’s journey of finding a home in people he once felt was is a cycle anyone can relate to. His doubts linger in trust issues and the feeling of not belonging. It soon uncovers that the quest of settling in places, people, and experiences will be unending unless one finds their sense of home.

Phi Palmos and Dwein Baltazar’s characters are spices to the story as they portray a decade-long friendship of overcoming tendencies. Being under the constant waves of change, companionship paves through distances and personal struggles. The movie emphasizes that ‘ghosting’ also happens between friends and rekindling episodes are a challenge.

Sila Sila won the Best Picture Award. Its undeniably well-plated palette satisfies the eye of the audience. A lot of scenes will tickle one’s humor especially if you are used to friendships that blatantly roast each other as a way of showing one’s love language.

Alongside its award-winning cinematography, Sila Sila also received the Audience Choice Award and Best Screenplay by scriptwriter Daniel Saniana. Also, Fabregas was recognized as Best Supporting Actor for his role.

“We’ll always love each other, however it manifests, it’s just always going to be there.”, this line by Jared carves through the hearts of those who had to let go of a person but never the love that they have for them. Gab’s relationship with Jared shows that there is never just one way of loving someone. Every day, with every version of themselves, love prevails. 

Distance can never make things small. It only deceives you from thinking that you’ve escaped your troubles. One way or another, you will find yourself crawling back because time never lets anyone off its claws—Sila-Sila teaches this. Furthermore, sometimes, having no closure is not the closure.

The character of Gab serves as an example that a person will remain trapped in the past unless they find closure from people and from themselves. People are bound to face the naked truth that we need to find our sense of home in this world that is full of broken fragments of imperfect individuals.

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Metamorphosis, a film that challenges the conventional

Tiglao tells this story through the never-before-seen character of a Filipino intersex teenager, and he tells it almost flawlessly, with the scenes that make you nostalgic, like you’ve been there before—a sort of déjà vu.

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Screengrab from Metamorphosis Trailer

As a coming-of-age film that probes more extensively into the adolescent psychosexual conflict, J.E. Tiglao’s Metamorphosis is dangerously daring. The film stirred a wave of controversy when the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) classified it as X-rated for exploring intersexuality, later on, it was reclassified into R-16, permitting its screening in local cinemas. 

It opens with a scene at a waterfall in a 1:1 aspect ratio and ends in the same setting, where we find the protagonist, Adam, exceptionally portrayed by Gold Azeron, no longer irresolute. Supporting actress Iana Bernardez, who plays Angel, complements Azaron almost naturally—Adam isn’t without Angel, vice versa. However, the gorgeous visuals of Metamorphosis overshadow the disarray that’s often ignored in the film.

Tiglao tells this story through the never-before-seen character of a Filipino intersex teenager, and he tells it almost flawlessly, with the scenes that make you nostalgic, like you’ve been there before—a sort of déjà vu. Apart from the brilliant footwork of Tey Clamor, the film’s cinematographer, the musical score by Divino Dayacap, from the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music, gave the film its oomph: as if the music understood the complexity of emotions portrayed, and the aesthetics with it.

Tiglao almost easily got away with poor writing by compensating for the other elements in the film. Instead of sustaining its relaxed delicateness, it lost its momentum when Adam’s exploration into his intersexuality was hastily overturned by uncalled-for predatory themes, and sexual awakening was realized by means of harassment.

The film relied heavily on aesthetics while leaving the plot unsustained and undernourished. It undermined the audience’s capacity to understand beyond the script because there was very little depth to it—the metaphors were surface-level and revealed themselves too easily. Some scenes appeared to over-explain themselves because expository writing was brought to an excess. Nevertheless, the film communicated what it sought to: the magnitude of embracing your own uniqueness in pursuit of self-acceptance.

Perhaps one of the most moving scenes in the film was when Adam’s father, a conservative Catholic and a pastor with a strongly-held vision for Adam to reverse his intersexuality – an “Ok, boomer” moment – abandons his unyielding bigoted principles at long last, giving Adam the autonomy to decide on and for his own. Here, the conservative adult matures with the troubled adolescent—and it is this shared acceptance that is unique to Metamorphosis.

Although the film suffers from tacky dialogue and some questionable subplots, it does exactly what a coming-of-age film is supposed to: the audience becomes an echo chamber, where we feel for the protagonist while accompanying him into growth and resolution. 

Metamorphosis, along with its stillness and vulgarity, makes for an ample directorial debut. The “I” in LGBTQIA+ rarely gets talked about, but Tiglao changed that by giving us Metamorphosis: it contests machismo without overemphasizing the feminine, it astounds without unnerving, and most of all it is unrestrained. Metamorphosis, even with its sloppy writing, is sufficiently beautiful—it questions and challenges the conventional, and it does it without fear.

 

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Tayo Muna Habang Hindi Pa Tayo: An Endless Cycle

Falling in love in this generation is like using a trial and error method that gets you nowhere. In the emergence of dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble and websites like Omegle, finding a prospective partner has become fairly easy but also quick to lose.

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Screengrab from Tayo Muna Habang Hindi Pa Tayo official trailer

Labels. There is a silent debate going on about whether labels are important or a factor for complications. Though there is a need to define relationships to know where to draw the line between friends and lovers, it is often terrifying to know what the truth really is. The word ‘commitment’ may seem an intimidating word for some, but it is also loved by many. 

Tayo Muna Habang Hindi Pa Tayo is one of the entries for the Cinema One Originals 2019. Written and directed by Denise O’Hara, who won an award for Best Director in this year’s Gawad Urian for a movie called Mamang, a film about dementia and the struggles of remembering one’s life. 

The film festival ran from November 7 until November 17 in selected malls and microcinemas. Starring Jane Oineza and JC Santos as Alex and Carlo, the story portrays the characters’ struggle in the process of falling in love, falling out, being confused, and being sure at the same time. 

Falling in love in this generation is like using a trial and error method that gets you nowhere. In the emergence of dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble and websites like Omegle, finding a prospective partner has become fairly easy but also quick to lose. 

Alex, played by Jane Oineza, is a woman with big dreams and ambitions, eager to prove to the world that she is more than just a pretty face. Carlo, played by JC Santos, on the other hand, is your typical go-with-the-flow kind of guy who works in the field of graphic design and freelance work. The story progresses as the two create something that neither of them knows what is and what to call. 

By slowly cracking her shell and breaking down her walls, Carlo manages to see the parts of Alex that no one really sees. Underneath her cold gazes and intimidating aura, lies a sappy and marupok girl. One night, after planning and talking about the design for Alex’s upcoming project, a cockroach scare prompts a rush to the bedroom; ensuing a somewhat emotional conversation that turns the atmosphere into purple and red hazes. 

After that night, awkwardness sits between them in the office. Alex, trying to figure out what happened, asks Carlo directly; as to his reply, along with the words “Masaya pa rin naman ‘diba?” creates a questionable feeling both to the characters and the audience. 

Stemming from the title itself, the movie—from start to finish—draws a problematic and complicated cycle that reflects dating and almost-dating. The dialogues lacked a bit of emotional appeal and the concreteness of thought cannot be easily grasped. The movie has a back and forth sequence, showing the past and the present, how the moments came to be, what arguments were thrown out to get to the scene where they chase each other in the sidewalk with pain and hesitation in their eyes. 

Cinematography-wise, the color palette of the film shifts along with the emotion that is being presented on the screen, making up for the lack of substance in the exchange of dialogues. It is a mess, paralleling to Alex and Carlos’ relationship, the shaky camera angles and the abrupt shift from one scene to another provides support in pulling off the movie’s complicated narrative. It could have had more backstory and fewer gaps in the storyline but it somehow works as it leaves you hanging and still questioning what happened. It keeps you in the cycle even though you have stepped out of the cinema already. 

Filled with contradictions and trouble waiting to happen, O’Hara’s work garners attention from those who are in the same position. The film dwells on complex-minded characters, pretty much like our generation, and their decisions on whether they should leave or keep fighting for something that is vague. It is a ticking time bomb of tears and regret or maybe, just maybe, something magical and worthwhile. 

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