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No tears for Pikoy

ASIDE from feeling hopeful for Cebuano films, I left last week’s Sine ug Katilingban at SM City enriched with lessons on how to avoid crying when watching a tearjerker movie. I unfortunately belong to the species that until now can’t accept the fact that it’s okay to cry in public. It’s a gender thing, this public display of tears. Until this macho myth that falsely defines the male ego is erased, I can use the tips the next time I found myself watching a Sharon Cuneta classic.

And so it happened that I found myself watching Maryo J. De los Reyes’ “Magnifico,” one of the “child-friendly” films featured in the festival. Sharon is not here, thank God. There’s Lorna Tolentino and Albert Martinez and a host of other stars of subdued acting.

Set in an impoverished town, the movie is about a nine-year-old boy named Magnifico, or Pikoy (played by Jiro Manio), who is not so good in school but whose innocence and good heart allow him to give joy to the people in the community and magically transform their lives for the better.

If that sounded cliché, it’s because I lifted that synopsis from the festival’s primer. The movie is a lot more than that. But since this is not a film review, you just have to take my word for it when I say “Magnifico” is the ultimate tearjerker of Pinoy Cinema, not to mention one of the most awarded Tagalog films of all times.

My mistake was I came unprepared. Somebody should have warned me of what’s to come. And what was to come made me wish I watched the film alone so I could cry like like a girl (I told you this is a gender thing).

Instead, I had to devise ways to suppress my tears. I don’t want to be seen crying. Me? Cry? I drink beer for breakfast. I play in a rock band. Cry? No cry, no cry.

I don’t know how equally difficult the experience was for my artist friends who watched the film with me. But there was this unspoken brotherhood that bonded us together. We helped each other out of the awkward situation. Make it men protecting manhood from Pikoy.

Now I know that one effective way to avoid tears inside a movie house is to comment on the cinematographic merit of the film when the scenes are in their most tear-soaked. “Gwapoha pagka-shot bay uy,” is a line that exceptionally works. When Pikoy was laid to rest and the entire neighborhood mourns his passing, I told my companions, “Biliba nako sa director bay uy. Tan-awa ra gud ang angle bay.”

Making coughing sounds is also effective. Coughing gives you an excuse to dig for your handkerchief and wipe anything that’s wet on your face. This is the favorite of one of my companions. I noticed this trick when his coughing became more and more in sync with the most intense scenes towards the end.

Fidgeting in your seat, as if you’re having backaches, works too. This I did by interspersing it with occasional digging into my backpack as if to look for a box of popcorn, a burger or anything.

And the most effective of all is the cellular phone. This ever-reliable gadget always comes to the rescue when everything else fails. No movie is as important as a text message or a call you forgot to make but suddenly remembers in the middle of the movie.

I vowed to use this technique the next time Pikoy comes around.

(sun.star weekend magazine, 2006)

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