Family movie night | Inquirer Entertainment

Family movie night

By: - Columnist
/ 12:12 AM January 08, 2015

It’s good to be back home. We were greeted by a relatively empty airport on Monday morning, and next to no congestion on the motorway heading home. This is unusual, a change from Facebook photos of friends’ crowded homecomings. Perhaps the travel gods were on our side; every weary traveler prays for smooth-sailing as much as possible, and that’s exactly what we got. Hopefully this bodes well for the rest of 2015.

‘Metro Manila’


On New Year’s Day, Rob, Nic and myself headed over to Chino Hills to spend time with the Salonga side of the family. We had missed the previous night’s festivities (my cousin Lou’s 50th birth anniversary…

Happy birthday, Ate!) because we were feeling under the weather. But we were well enough for the long drive to spend the official start of the New Year with my family.


After a lot of eating (there are a lot of cooks in the family, including the in-laws), another cousin, Rick (an animator on “The Simpsons”), brought over a large projection screen, his projector and a few movies for us to enjoy in the living room.

“Have you guys seen ‘Metro Manila’? It’s really good.” So we put that one on. I had heard a few things about the movie; mostly that it made the rounds of foreign film festivals the same year it was released. Thankfully, Rick suggested this for movie night, and we were all the better for it.

“Metro Manila” (written and directed by Sean Ellis) was apparently inspired when Ellis saw two Metro Manila security guards, toting M-16s, arguing. The story is about Oscar (played by Jake Macapagal) and his family (his wife Mai is played by Althea Vega) moving to Manila and finding their fortunes heading south, then straight to hell.

Feast for the eyes

There is redemption at the very end (and a very satisfying one at that), which makes up for some of the movie’s depressing scenes. The gorgeous cinematography is a feast for the eyes, painting Manila and

Banaue in a beautiful glow, even when the film is at its most unsavory.

My eyes went mostly for the actors and their incredible work on this. Subtle, natural, never melodramatic, even in scenes of chaos and conflict. I felt proud that I could call a few of them my friends.


I’ve known Jake Macapagal since “My Fair Lady” many years ago, and to watch his work on this movie was a revelation. I know him primarily as a theater actor and dancer (his Bernardo in “West Side Story” was superb). His Oscar is heartbreaking in spots, and the entire living room rooted for him from start to finish, though we could see the inevitable end from a mile away.

John Arcilla as Ong is an antihero reminiscent of Denzel Washington in “Training Day,” a man who starts out as a good guy, but is sucked in by bad circumstances and is making the best of them. All the other actors I recognized—JM Rodriguez, Ana Abad-Santos and Reuben Uy—are uniformly excellent. I let out a scream every time I saw a familiar face. What a fun movie night it turned out to be!

My sincerest hope is that movies like “Metro Manila” are seen by bigger local audiences than the film fest crowds in countries far and away from the Philippines. We have a treasure trove of stories waiting to be told; hopefully “Metro Manila’s” success in the international festival circuit will inspire our filmmakers to dig deep and share their art with the world.

To everyone who was part of the film, my sincerest congratulations on an excellent movie.

Back to the grind

This weekend, “The Voice of the Philippines” Knockout rounds will air. First up will be Team Lea and Team Apl; next weekend, Team Bamboo and Team Sarah. From our Top 9 artists, we’ll pick the six who will head to the Live Shows, which start Jan. 24.

Preparations for Live Shows are ongoing, with every team getting ready for what will be the toughest part of the competition. This is when you, the viewers at home, will have a say as to who gets to stay, and who gets to go.

Are you ready? We are!

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