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Here's a shout-out to all Santa Claus figures

by Bibeth Orteza
Dec 31, 2019
Bibeth Orteza and daughter Aya in an almost empty movie theater in New York.
PHOTO/S: Bibeth Orteza

Hello, po. Welcome ulit sa Labandera Chronicles.

I’m still here in New York, where laundry is done on a washing machine then goes straight into a dryer.

The evening of Christmas Day saw me watching Little Women with my daughter, Aya. Cinema 1 of Cinemas 1, 2, and 3 was full, which was good, because there were only three of us when we saw Honeyboy; two, when we caught Judy; six, in Knives Out; about a dozen in Dark Waters, A Hidden Life, and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

It felt good to watch Little Women with Aya. I had read the Louisa May Alcott book when I was a high school sophomore, about 13 years old. She, in grade school, at 11. It was my biggest fear to have a non-reader as a daughter and boy, was I glad to have been proven wrong.

We held hands for almost the entire length of the film shot in 35mm, and since I hope you all see it when it gets to Manila, I'm not about to come up with spoilers.

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For the moment, please make do with the following snippet of a review:

“Attractively designed and filmed and set to a gorgeously lush musical score by Alexandre Desplat, Little Women could be seen as the urtext for everything from Sex and the City to Keeping Up With the Kardashians, wherein like Laurie, the audience watches the female protagonists, not as an act of pure observation but of identification and self-definition.

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"Long before viewers debated whether they were a Carrie or a Samantha, women (and surely more than a few men) wondered if they were Jo the tomboy or Meg the romantic. The genius of Gerwig’s version is that it preserves that deep psychological pleasure of Little Women while acknowledging that all of those archetypes existed—and still do—within a rigged system.”

We were so impressed with the movie, and so were the others in the moviehouse, hanggang ladies’ room it was being analyzed. We talked about it while walking the whole six blocks home, and early the next day I posted this, on my Facebook wall:

“Watching Little Women with my daughter, Sara, was a really great Christmas gift. Arguably the best. Thank you, Greta Gerwig.”

(Sara ang real name ni Aya.)

It was as if writer-director Greta Gerwig had become our Santa Claus.

Going to sleep that night, I segued into thinking of Santa Claus figures past.

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From the movie industry, chiefly Dolphy and Fernando Poe Jr., who both had the habit of having cash ready with them in their respective vehicles, pang-abot, sa kakilala man o hindi, at the same time refusing to be credited for their generosity. They did this not only for Christmas, but for the whole stretch of the year.

Then just before reaching out to turn off my bedside lamp, I recalled another Santa Claus of sorts.

Jomari Yllana.

Years ago, soon after I reposted the picture of an eight year-old Rafa dressed in Kobe’s old jersey # 8 (reposted, because when it was first taken in 1998, wala pang Facebook) with Kobe Bryant himself only all of 18, a rookie, taken at the Araneta Coliseum, Joms sent Rafa a package. It had a note addressed to Carlitos, saying something like:

“Direk Carlitos,

“Hindi kita napasalamatan ng husto for casting me as the young Richard Gomez in Hihintayin Kita sa Langit. Pero bilang patunay kung gaano kalaki ang pasasalamat ko, ‘eto po ang jacket ni Kobe Bryant na nabili ko sa isa sa mga unang biyahe ko sa LA. Para kay Rafa po ito, dahil nabalitaan kong gusto niya rin si Kobe.

“Muli, thank you po.

“Joms.”

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Rafa Siguion-Reyna


Belated Merry Christmas, Joms. Rafa treasures your gift up to now, and always will.

Gayundin, sa lahat ng mga tumayong Santa Claus ng kararaang Pasko.

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Bibeth Orteza and daughter Aya in an almost empty movie theater in New York.
PHOTO/S: Bibeth Orteza
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