Dear Alexis

June 7, 2010 at 12:15 am 6 comments

I fail at attempts to search for a validation of my spot in the internship program founded after your name, after your ideals, after your devotion for cinema, and I am still failing at it.

I remember a feeling of overwhelming disbelief and self-doubt when I learned that my name was among the eleven others chosen that shall make up the first batch of the internship program. I still sometimes repeat the list of names in my head, recall how it was to see the faces behind these names for the first time and how we were all seated mute in our chairs at the UP Film Institute’s Videotheque, all anxious but visibly thrilled. Mostly, I remember wondering what the heck am I doing here, with a name tag around my neck and your name spelled out on the flicker of the projection screen.

I had given up on my love-hate affair with cinema long before I even finished multimedia arts school and in every emotional affair I resolve to sever (I believe a love affair with art is an emotional affair), I am never the one to turn back. No one understood why I had given up on film and chose to instead rot away behind the blue light of a computer, with the four o’clock office coffee break as my sole idea of a vacation. Each day, along with the rest of the corporate slaves trapped in painfully left-brained jobs, I  would clock out precisely at five, mentally burned.

If you care to listen, I’d like to tell you how my penchant for cinema began: I was first introduced to cinema in third grade, after I discovered a paperback of screenplays by Ricky Lee entitled Brutal/Salome (1981). The images of vulgarity were a shaming but curious experience for me, a child of nine (I am specifically referring to Salome (Gina Alajar) in a compromising position with her flame Jimmy (Dennis Roldan) in the former’s kitchen). Although the film stills were a far cry from my familiar picture books of fairy tale princesses in a bed of blooms, I was permanently drawn.

At age thirteen, when Spielberg’s Schindler’s List was screened in Manila, I recall that the least I could do was crouch outside the movie house screening the film and absorb the indiscernible dialogue of the actors reduced to thick vowels and to listen intently to the bass of the film score, signifying a plot tensity, a climax.  I finally saw the film a couple of years later, still three years too young to watch, after I succeeded in coercing the maid to have a copy delivered to our home by the neighborhood video rental shop.

In college, while queued at the enrollment line, I, without a hint of reluctance, dropped plans of taking up Consular Affairs as a preparation for a stint in law school. Instead, I happily signed up for the Multimedia Arts program because, and only because, it offered a couple of lessons on film making.  Film, at this point, was the sole thing that ever mattered.

I don’t know exactly what triggered it but one semester prior to college graduation, I severed my once-tight bond with cinema. Perhaps it was the sudden death of  Sid Hildawa, my screenplay mentor and film thesis adviser in college. Maybe, it was my introduction to the painful truth that there is no visible appreciation for cinematic legacy in the Philippines and how the mass populace have, instead, immersed themselves in formula movies in the call of escapism. Or maybe because I thought I knew everything there was to know about cinema only to realize that I was not even a thumb’s length ahead of a through and through cinephile.

Mostly, I suppose I had given up on film because it required too much of me and I just could not commit.

Forgive me but I didn’t know who you were, Alexis, nor have I heard of your impassioned advocacy for cinema until that  particular Tuesday evening in September of 2009. I remember standing before the flicker of the television screen with your one dimensional face staring back at my being and a block of letters underneath your image spelling out the word ‘Murdered’. I remember how you—because of the proximity of our age and a passion for films which you unwaveringly held within you until someone made the unkind and inhumane decision for you to cease living—reminded me, somehow, of my former self. I remember how the sad termination of your young life shocked me to reflect on my own and to reconcile with, what I believe, really mattered to me.

People tell me I am destined to breathe and die cinema. They say cinema is the only thing I can speak of with such articulation and love. Perhaps they are just being kind. I am no cinema Einstein. I can not critique, impromptu, on a Von Trier piece, nor can I assume scholarly notions on the films of Bernal. And these are the very reasons I am still searching for a clear validation of my worthiness of being called a film intern—your intern.

I hope my simple love for cinema is enough of a validation. My love for cinema is my only claim. And I can almost hear you say you very well think it is enough.

Your intern,


PS  Bayani Fernando is no longer MMDA Chair so we can finally see no more of the MMDA wall art (at least the spray-painted leftist sentiments it tried to conceal made better sense). I am not sure, however, if MMFF will ever come up with better selections. I think Enteng and his minions are hoping for an nth installment.

Read my friend and co-intern Patti Sunio‘s Love Letter to filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik.


Entry filed under: film, musings.

Idiot! You know I’d like to keep my cheeks dry today

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. iaps  |  June 8, 2010 at 7:57 am

    this is touching expression of love for film….

  • 2. Lou Lou  |  June 8, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Thank you!

  • 3. popupbaby  |  June 13, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    hi louella! this is micah, rina’s friend. i saw your wordpress while looking for photos of alexis.


    congratulations for graduating and doing a great great job. <333

    • 4. Lou Lou  |  June 13, 2010 at 6:01 pm

      Hey Micah,

      Thank you! I guess I will see you at the INDIE-pendence film screening at Mogwai and Rina’s project launch, too? Thanks for the feature on ATIP. High-five 🙂


  • 5. darden  |  June 28, 2010 at 12:55 am

    Your blogs never fail to inspire me. Anyway, i don’t know, but for some reason, this poem by Derek Walcott came to mind right after I’ve read your musings. I hope you won’t mind me sharing this. Keep it up, Louella! 🙂

    Derek Walcott – Love After Love

    The time will come
    when, with elation,
    you will greet yourself arriving
    at your own door, in your own mirror
    and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

    and say, sit here, Eat.
    You will love again the stranger who was your self.
    Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
    to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

    all your life, whom you ignored
    for another, who knows you by heart.
    Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

    the photographs, the desperate notes,
    peel your own image from the mirror.
    Sit. Feast on your life.

    • 6. Lou Lou  |  June 28, 2010 at 1:09 am

      This very poem echoed my very sentiments. I appreciate it, Darden.


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