I must confess I’m a movie addict. As much as I can, I don’t miss watching good films on the big screen – blockbuster hit or not. Yes, I frequent mall cinemas if I have time. It’s my way of fighting stress and I always have a good share of relief in the comforts of mall cinemas.
Long before metro malls found their way down here, there were already a few cinemas/movie houses in Lipa City. And this is what this article is all about. Rewind the times when there were no IMAX, 3D cinemas, Dolby Surround Sound.
Let our contributor, Eric S. Masupil, take you to Diamond Jubilee, Oromar, and Rainbow cinemas.
Pre-mall Movie Memoirs of a Lipeño
For today’s generation, life in Lipa is unimaginable without the malls. Be it to see a movie, buy personal stuff, eat out, or simply to bum around, the mall is the place to be. But long before the malls perpetuated themselves into the city and into the collective consciousness of Lipeños, there were already home-grown establishments like movie houses which qualified as trappings of urban living.
Today, the city of Lipa boasts of 10 mall cinemas which brag of 3D, Dolby, etc., bringing nearly all (I say “nearly all” because why the hell was Shutter Island not played in these movie houses?!) the local and Hollywood blockbusters in virtually the same time as their nationwide / worldwide release.
Yet there was a time when Lipeños had to wait for a month or two (or worse, in vain) after a movie’s metro release before such played in any of these independent cinemas- Diamond Jubilee, Oromar, and Rainbow. Picture and sound quality in these theatres were obviously inferior to what today’s cinemas offer but they still served the purpose- providing me my movie fix.
Diamond Jubilee used to be in the building where Homeworks Furniture now is, Rainbow has become Chowking Bayan, both were in C. M. Recto St. while Oromar used to be in P. Torres St. just across the Funeraria Umali. All three theatres were divided into two sections – the lower orchestra and the elevated balcony. The admission charge was higher in the balcony (P40) than it was in the orchestra (P25) because of the former’s upholstered seats and apparently better screen perspective than the latter.
These three theatres were also known for the kind of movies they exhibited – Diamond Jubilee was the only one that showed foreign movies (the ridiculous and Philippine-shot Missing In Action 1 and 2) and the top-grosser/s in the annual Metro Manila Film Fest (MMFF).
During that time, the MMFF’s top draw was always the late Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ)’s Panday (four movies in five years), always shown on or about January 20, in time for the city’s fiesta. These movies were local hits I was able to watch the last two (I was too young yet to watch a movie when parts 1 and 2 were shown).
Diamond Jubilee also played action films by Senators Lito Lapid (Ben Tumbling) and Ramon Revilla Sr. (Kapitan Inggo: Kumakain ng Bala) and before it was shut down, it became notorious for showing “pene” films- very graphically bold pictures (“pene” means penetration / the actual sexual act) that in today’s standard would be rated triple X and would make legitimate adult movies seem like Walt Disney productions. Titles included Bomba Queen, Mapaglaro, Hubo Sa Dilim, and Diligan Mo Ng Suka Ang Uhaw na Lumpia.
Rainbow, in contrast, was known for showing family- and youth-oriented movies like Dolphy’s Once Upon A Time, Tito, Vic, and Joey’s Super Wan-Tu-Tri, Sharon Cuneta’s Kahit Konting Pagtingin, Manilyn Reynes(!)’ Feel na Feel The Movie (“The Movie” had to be included in the title to avoid confusion because she had a song and a concert of the same title) and Romnick Sarmenta’s(!!) and Sheryl Cruz’s (!!!) Puso sa Puso. It was also considered as the cleanest theatre during that time (nicely cushioned and bug-free seats, reliable air-conditioning unit, and a projector that didn’t bog down in the middle of a screening, except during a power outage).
Oromar was infamous for its bug-laden plywood seats and showed B-movies starring Redford White, Cachupoy, and Palito like Balandra Crossing (a spoof of Hollywood’s Cassandra Crossing), and Rambuto (inspired by Rambo) and excellent comedies like May Daga Sa Labas Ng Lungga and May Lamok Sa Loob Ng Kulambo, both starring Eddie Garcia and Gloria Diaz.
These three theatres were also a testament to the huge fan base of FPJ. His movies Kapag Puno Na Ang Salop, Ako ang Huhusga, and Hindi Ka Na Sisikatan Ng Araw were all shown simultaneously in these three cinemas which, until then, was unthinkable. Sharon Cuneta’s Kahit Konitng Pagtingin (opposite FPJ) and Maging Sino Ka Man (with Robin Padilla) had more than a month’s run in Rainbow Theatre which by the standard one-week run was also record-breaking.
I shall end this nostalgia about how movies where before the era or malls with my two-part, one-movie experience when I watched at the Rainbow Theatre Gumapang Ka Sa Lusak starring Eddie Garcia and Dina Bonnevie. A power outage occurred in the middle of the film’s screening. While we were waiting and sweating in the dark, the guard shouted that nothing could be done as the power generator wouldn’t work.
We instantly shouted and cussed like lunatics and to appease us, the takilyera (the person who tore a moviegoer’s purchased ticket into two before he / she is allowed admission) marched in front of the projector and told us that we may just sign on a designated sheet of paper in the lobby so that we may come back the next day to finish the movie for free. Everybody found the proposition acceptable so we did as told.
I came back the following day and found out that Ms. Bonnevie got mortally wounded by a gunshot while Mr. Garcia became exposed as a corrupt City Mayor. It was the best ending ever and was certainly worth coming back to the theatre to watch the same movie.
Eric Masupil teaches Natural Science subjects at Lipa City Colleges and spends his spare time reading and watching stuff on TV. He also jogs regularly in his attempt to stay healthy.