Nangangarap ng Gising

After watching Mike de Leon's romantic film "Kung Mangarap Ka't Magising," I realized Baguio in the 1970s was the perfect place for a secret love affair.

This morning I got a text from Carlos Celdran which read: Michael Jackson is dead. I said, RIP, him and Farah Fawcett. "The Seventies are over," Carlos replied. So over.

I barely remember the decade since I was born in 1976, but I have pleasantly hazy memories of disco dancing with my dad, my mom and the smell of Nina Ricci's L'air du temps, of watching Sybil on Betamax, of listening to mix tapes in the car on our way up to Baguio, which was a magical place during my childhood.

After watching Mike de Leon's romantic film Kung Mangarap Ka't Magising, I realized that Baguio in the 1970s was the perfect place for a secret love affair. Picture this: it's 1977 and Joey (Christopher de Leon) is a college student busy slacking off and writing music with his friends (played by Danny Javier, Buboy Garovillo, and a wonderfully spunky Bibeth Orteza). One day he meets Ana (Hilda Koronel) a young woman from Manila visiting her cousin in Baguio (Laurice Guillen). Joey is taken by Ana's beauty and sadness as he learns that she's trapped in a loveless marriage. They start hanging out, friends lang talaga sila. But honestly, who can resist Christopher de Leon's boyish charm and total hotness as he writes a song on the spot for her as they picnic on a hillside? And how can we not fall in love with Hilda Koronel's unfathomable eyes that betray love and despair so beautifully? I've never seen two people go from friends to "more than friends" quite like Joey and Ana on that quiet Baguio hillside.

Their love affair plays out in the remote town of Sagada, where the world cannot intrude on the reality of their situation. Ultimately, Ana knows she will go back to her life as a wife and mother, Joey knows he will go back to his life as a college student. The affair is ended, life goes on. Maybe Joey and Ana have become better people.

The story between Joey and Ana in Kung Mangarap Ka't Magising is pitch perfect in its innocence and sweetness and complexity. Why can't make movies like this anymore? It's smart, funny, and touching. It's wonderfully written, beautifully shot, and oh, the awesome original music in this movie! (Honestly, I would much rather see a film like Kung Mangarap instead of whatever permutation of Transformers currently dominating our theaters.) Director Mike de Leon, scion of legendary LVN Studios and considered a hero of Philippine Cinema's Golden Age, perfectly captures the dreamy landscape of Baguio swathed in fog and steeped in freshness, blooming with promise.

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I've only seen it that way as a little girl in the late 70s. And now I'm inspired to catch the next bus going up.

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