10/19/2016
Boom. Boom. Boom.

I would never have thought that the introduction of digital television in the Philippines would benefit those in public transport. Very quickly, the buses I've ridden on have switched - mostly the ones on EDSA, but the buses I took to and from La Salle a few weeks back also had the "mahiwagang black box" - and are now carrying programs much more clearly than before.

Yesterday I was on one of those buses. I came from Makati, a trip that, while inconvenient, is necessary, since that meant I get my laptop back and it no longer makes this very noisy sound. (I should have had the HDMI port fixed, though. I mentioned it to them but I don't think they got around to it.) I was seated comfortably - thankfully; carrying a laptop on a bus still makes me antsy - so I had nothing left to do but watch whatever's on television.

Granted, I wasn't paying that much attention. I had a podcast on. I had a queue, all of a sudden. Anyway, the thing on television - it was a movie, a local movie, one of those movies from the early 90s. You know, that comedy-action-romance hybrid? You know the trope. The protagonists stumble upon some scheme while going about their daily life. They essentially give chase. They find some pretty chick along the way. They go against all odds and somehow survive. They don't become superheroes - that's what the police are for.

This particular movie, from what I gather, has Joey de Leon, Andrew E., Arnell Ignacio and the late legend Chiquito playing members of a band. (The movie's called Bangers, no relation to Miley Cyrus.) I caught it halfway, and I don't really know what exactly happened, but did I really need to? I just have to glance at the television and I know what point of the film we're in. We're in the final act. The bad guys disrupt their concert, one where the audience suspiciously know how to dance along to their songs in sync. Chaos ensues.

Next thing we know, they're in a car chase, with one driving an oil tanker, and the others - the bad guys, the band, the chicks - in cars. Somehow this involves the oil leaking out; a hapless bystander lighting a cigarette near it, sparking a flame; and a guy carrying a big-ass concrete beam all by himself. He gets pinned down by that beam because of the chase, and the protagonists help him free. (The girls are on it, too. Do I comment on how four ladies can reasonably help carry that concrete beam? No. I don't want to be called a sexist.)

Oh, and the tanker explodes. They all get away in time, but the explosion - it was majestic. Sure, it's not particularly extraordinary considering it's your typical comedy-action-romance hybrid Filipino film, but it was majestic nonetheless. Boom. Boom. Boom.

They don't make movies like that anymore.

Well, sure, they do. But whenever Vic Sotto does something like that - piled with loads of product placement and wall-to-wall mentions on Eat Bulaga - the self-declared cineastes start throwing up and lamenting the slow death of Philippine cinema. But then they'll also snap up those romantic comedies, the ones with a twinge of the hip and the urbane, and maybe some initially uncomfortable plotlines too, complete with very quotable quotes.

But, still, they don't make movies like that anymore. Sure, it's dated, but there's something comfortable about the gags, the tropes, the fact that everybody breaks into a song-and-dance number on a beach. Maybe it's because I grew up in the 90s, though. Maybe actual millennials don't like that. Or maybe they do, if Chance the Rapper somehow gets involved. Or if it can somehow go viral. Kids these days like that, after all. Still, that sort of movie is a relic in this day and age. For one, where do you shoot those chase scenes? There are no more empty roads to shoot in, much more empty roads to detonate gas tankers in!

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