Other countries start thinking about Christmas after Halloween. But in the Philippines, as soon as the ber months usher in (meaning a minute after midnight of August 31) radio stations all over the archipelago try to beat each other to play the very first Christmas song for the year.
As respect for the dead, though, Christmas decors won’t start getting setup until after November 2nd. For this year, the breeze of Christmas air was not felt until the start of the nine-day Simbang Gabi (Night Mass) because of the catastrophe wrought by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) on November 8 in Central Visayas, particularly Tacloban City and the provinces of Samar and Leyte.
A lot of companies, offices, schools, organizations and churches decided to forego their usual Christmas parties in deference to what happened to millions of people in the affected areas. The money that could have been spent for holiday reverie were donated to the survivors instead. But Pinoys could not totally forego Christmas. It’s part of their culture, their clan, their family, their life.
Even those affected by the tragedy made sure that in their own little way Christmas was still celebrated. Some of them were thankful that they’re alive, and that’s enough reason to celebrate the birth of the Savior with the rest of the world.
Hospitality, resiliency, cheerfulness and love for music, movies and other forms of entertainment define the Filipino soul. Anywhere in the world, there are always Pinoys admired for their singing, dancing, acting or their skills in caregiving and in the hospitality industry.
At home, for 39 years now, Pinoys are treated to different genres of movies starting Christmas day to cap off the holiday cheer. Foreign movies are set aside (except in IMAX or 3D moviehouses) and only locally-produced films are shown all over the country.
The festival is showcase of the best locally-produced movies for the year. It has also been a platform for the rivalry of Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos (which can be tackled in an entirely different treatise).
Some people are apprehensive about the gross receipts of this year’s festival. because of the tragedies that the country suffered one after the other–typhoons around mid-year, the conflict in Zamboanga, the devastating earthquake in Bohol and the strongest typhoon ever to make landfall in recorded history that hit Central Visayas.
Lat year, the topgrosser was Sisterakas, starring three of the country’s certified boxoffice stalwarts–Kris Aquino, Ai-Ai delas Alas and Vice Ganda–and made history as the highest-earning festival movie of all time earning P342 million.
There were years that the whole festival earnings were around that amount. Given that the cost of a movie ticket has jumped three times over the last two decades, last year’s gross of more than P700 million is really high in today’s standards.
This year, Kris and Vice are at loggerheads for boxoffice supremacy.
Theaters opened as early as 9 a.m. Wednesday, and by mid-afternoon, the malls were packed with people lined up to buy tickets or get into the theaters.
Opening day scene at Southmall (Photo courtesy of entertainment journalist Ruel Mendoza)
The scenario at SM Southmall (duplicated in other SM locations) made some moviegoers decide to just go back another day to watch their favorites among the eight entries.
On one side were the movies Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy starring Vice Ganda and Maricel Soriano, Pagpag Siyam Na Buhay starring Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo, Kimmy Dora Ang Kiyemeng Prequel starring Eugene Domingo and Sam Milby, and 10000 Hours starring Robin Padilla.
On the other side were My Little Bossings starring Vic Sotto and Kris Aquino with tykes Ryzza Mae Dizon and Bimby Yap (Kris’ son by basketeer James Yap), Pedro Calungsod Batang Martir starring Rocco Nacino, Boy Golden Shoot-To-Kill starring Jeorge Estregan and KC Concepcion, and Kaleidoscope World starring Sef Cadayona and Yassie Pressman.
Opening day Top 4 are #1 My Little Bossings, #2 Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy, #3 Pagpag, #4 Kimmy Dora Ang Kiyemeng Prequel.
Depending on the results of the awards, the Bottom 4 can still catch up in the gross earnings until January 7, 2014.