One of the questions expats ponder and ask others about is, “What will I do in the Philippines other than going to the beach?” I agree that to most expats retiring to the Philippines, no matter how beautiful and relaxing, the beach would soon get old to them.
Bacolod City is not only famous for being the City of Smiles, it is also known as Bacollywood! One thing I have learned while living in the Bacolod Area is about the first run movies at the various mall cinemas. The top America films premier in the Philippines during the same times as they premier in Florida in the USA! For those who enjoy going to the theater, or the cinema as it is known in our area, you may be surprised to learn that the cinemas in the Philippines are large, modern, air conditioned and the cost of taking in a new movie is much less than in other countries. The price of a movie ticket is P150, which is less than $4 USD. The SM Cinema concession stand or snack bar, offers popcorn, hot dogs, hamburgers, Mr. Donuts and soft drinks, which are not highly inflated in cost as in the USA.
Famous filmmaker Peque Gallaga lives in Bacolod City and his film, “Ora Plata Mata,” is recognized as one of the most significant films ever made in the Philippines. Bacolod is home for a number of independent filmmakers and it has become the base for Visayan films. Independent filmmakers need extra actors of all ages and I think it is cool attending one of the Bacollywood Workshops. This year, the Bacollywood Workshops are being held April 15-May 10 and the fee is P3,000. You can learn about acting, script writing, film producing, cinematography and several other exciting fields of study. Who knows, you may be discovered and no one is ever too old to begin something new and exciting!
Mel Vedulian says
Thank you, Gary, for this post. Being a movie buff, I’m excited now knowing that I could just drive to that SM Cinema to cool off, catch that latest Hollywood fare, and meet future fellow expats in the same mall after the movie. Netflix carries some great Filipino films helmed by Lino Brocka but they were not digitized from good copies so the deterioration was quite distracting. The late director deserved being named a Filipino National Artist.
I was fortunate to catch Lea Salonga when she starred in Broadway’s Miss Saigon so many years ago. I was hooked — she was a stellar singer and actress, and the audience went wild for her during the curtain call.
I also learned lately that Susan Roces was born and raised in Bacolod. In the 70s, during my first visit to the country, I found myself in Lucena City. She was shooting a film with her husband in a beachfront property near there. I think the movie was “Perlas Ng Silangan” and I was fortunate to have witnessed a scene depicting the Muslim funeral ritual of Mindanao. That actress was truly beautiful and even gracious to the crowd watching behind the rope.
Gary McMurrain says
Over the years, I have met a number of Philippines celebrities from entertainment, sports and politics. They are not unreachable as many stars are in the USA. I’ve had photographs taken with a number of famous Filipinos and Filipinas. Gaby Concepcion and Toni Gonzaga in Bacolod but they are not from here. Both are movie, TV and music celebrities.
The husband of Susan Roces, FPJ. was one of the greatest actors in the Philippines of all time. He had talent!
The Rose of Tacloban, Imelda Marcos, is not from Negros Occidental but she is very popular here among many. FIRM, Friends of Imelda Romualdez Marcos, plants trees and is involved in other community and civic activities south of Bacolod. Imelda is still going fairly well at age 84 and she is an elected Congresswoman from Ilocos. I have a few personal stories about Imelda but will save those for another day.