‘Sana Maulit’ again
July 10. Friday. A night that I had been looking forward to and dreading at the same time. On this night, the ABS-CBN Film Archives would be screening its newest restored work, “Sana Maulit Muli,” starring Aga Muhlach (as Jerry) and yours truly (as Agnes) and directed by Olivia M. Lamasan.
I was looking forward to it because it meant getting to revisit a piece of work 20 years young. I was dreading it because it meant getting to revisit a piece of work 20 years old.
As much as the film and the experience of creating it tugs at the heartstrings of those who were directly involved, our entire beings awash in feelings of nostalgia, I wondered if the film would stand the test of time and not be so dated as to be laughable, or if our acting skills at the time would pass our own personal standards today.
I headed to my mother’s house in Quezon City early in the afternoon with my husband Rob and daughter Nicole in tow. My mother had prepared lunch, but I wasn’t very hungry. Instead I headed to the makeup chair of Kusie Ho, whose incredibly talented hands I trust. While he was primping and painting me, thoughts of the evening swirled in my head.
Yes, Leo Katigbak, ABS-CBN Film Archives head, expressed his and the team’s excitement, and hoped that we would like the results of their efforts (which for this movie began in 2013).
They were able to restore the movie from the negatives. They were able to get the sound from various media in combination, as one source just wasn’t good enough. The process was a painstaking one, as it is for the over 100 movies they’ve restored so far. But this labor of love is a necessary one, one that would ensure and preserve the Filipino’s filmmaking legacy by restoring its more seminal and elevating works.
Plans for the restored film include limited theatrical screenings and DVD and iTunes release.
At the beginning of the evening, Aga, Inang (Olive), and I, and our families and friends, were escorted to a small room on the second floor of the Ishmael Bernal Gallery of the UP Film Center.
Finger food and beverages were prepared. We were interviewed by members of the restoration team, as well as by MJ Felipe of “Bandila,” to get our reactions to and expectations of the restored film. At closer to 8 p.m., it came time to walk the red carpet.
We were still in the throes of Typhoon “Egay,” rains of varying strengths still falling, and the sky filled with thick gray clouds. But that didn’t stop anyone from heading to the UP Film Institute’s Cine Adarna for the special screening.
Leo had said that they were expecting a nice turnout, but we didn’t expect it to be that nice! Nearly every seat in the theater was filled. The faces in the crowd were mostly those of a younger generation. Kids ages 17, 18, maybe 20 years old, kids who weren’t even born yet when the movie was first released in 1995. But they were there. And we couldn’t believe it. We all took turns to say messages of thanks for, and anticipation of, what would turn out to be a beautiful evening.
So what was it like to watch the movie after many years of not having seen it? I was pleasantly surprised at how well the film has held up. It wasn’t as dated as I thought it might be (although we collectively let out cackles at seeing beepers and pagers pop up from time to time, not to mention Aga’s very 1990s haircut). It was great seeing Gina Pareño, Cherry Pie Picache, Tommy Abuel, Eula Valdes, Jan Marini-Alano, Tina Paner, William Martinez, Raoul Aragon and Rosemarie Sonora all brought back to vivid Technicolor life.
We remarked at the locations at which we shot in San Francisco: the BART on which we spent the better part of one afternoon, the large wood house in Half Moon Bay, the Bay Bridge, the Palace of Fine Arts, Castro Street and Fisherman’s Wharf. We also remarked at the opening scene filmed at the US Embassy on Roxas Boulevard and how no one lines up like that anymore.
I was a little scared at how our spouses and children (all of whom we love and adore) would react to the romance of the film. One scene in particular had Aga and me locked in one long, passionate kiss on a balcony, a scene that couldn’t have been easy for them to watch. But once it began, I could hear the giggles of the kids behind me, and caught Nicole covering the eyes of her friend (and my goddaughter) Sofia Inocentes, who in turn was trying to cover Nicole’s. After it was over, both Rob and (Aga’s wife) Charlene Gonzalez told us how beautiful the film was, and how well we did in it.
Perhaps the most jarring and unshakeable thing for me about the movie, beyond its romance, hugot and kilig, was how timely it still seemed to be.
Two decades ago, we were already talking about the suffering of Filipinos living and working abroad, being taken advantage of by their overseas
employers (some of them fellow Pinoys themselves). We were talking about how our countrymen buy into the idea of the “American Dream,” only to be disillusioned and disappointed.
Agnes’ mother spoke of people practically killing themselves to move away from home, and that the opportunity should not be wasted. Jerry’s cousin Nick marries an American citizen only for the green card, and Jerry’s sister is called an idiot for not making the same wais move.
Perhaps that old adage is true: the more things change, the more things stay the same. The only difference between then and now is that now we have smartphones.
Following the movie, we posed at the photo booth in the lobby set up by Flash with a Smile before heading off to a late dinner at The Peninsula, counting our blessings and thankful at the generous reception given to the film by the audience in the theater.
I guess Babes is still alive and well.
And it might be time for the mag-Babes to make another movie soon.
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