Search This Blog


Friday, December 31, 2010

Clark, Lois and the Prince of my Boazanian Empire

When I was young, we didn’t have color TV so I grew up watching black and white cartoons.  In a way, it did wonders to my imagination.  I knew Superman had blue suit and red cape, Batman had dark blue suit and Green Lantern, obviously, had green.  I browsed enough comic books from friends and from displays in local stores to know the colors of my favourite superheroes.  When I watched them on TV, the colouring took place in my brain, and looking from hindsight, I never really felt left out.  I had always been hooked.  One time, a neighbour left us her color TV for a short period because she had some family problem, I cannot remember exactly the details.  After repeated pleading, my mom allowed me to watch it while it was in our house. It was summer, no classes. I woke up very early the next day and I turned the TV on, the first cartoon that I saw in color was Popeye.  It was amazing for a child who hadn’t seen color animation before.  When I finally saw Superman, I was disappointed, the colors in my head was more stunning and powerful. On color TV, Superman’s blue suit looked dull and the red cape seemed lifeless. Still, I relished the novelty of color. I stayed glued on the television set until my mom yelled at me to stop watching.

In another incident, our rich neighbour invited my sister and me to go to her house and watch some videos. Mrs. Rich Neighbour had one of the biggest houses in the village. Believe it or not, the village was called Fortune Village.  Her house was on a street that also harbours other well-to-do families, by some providential jest, the street was called Felipe Suerte Street (Suerte to my foreign readers means lucky). Technically, our house is not part of Fortune Village. It was just that there was a vacant lot that served as a right of way that connected Felipe Suerte from our nameless compound.  It was also a dead end street. Felipe Suerte Street ended there. It was a cul-de-sac and so it was the perfect place for us free-spirited kids to play tsato, patintero, tumbang preso, sipa, and many more Filipino children’s games.  Because there were still enough vacant lots filled with grasses and wild flowering weeds, myriad of colourful butterflies abound.  It was indeed a child’s paradise.  It was free and there were no boundaries.  Years later, houses would be erected on those vacant lots, permanently and physically separating the residents of Felipe Suerte Street from our nameless compound.  It was like the Berlin Wall being erected, except the capitalist regime was the one erecting the great divide, and forever blocking us accidental socialist children.  The only time I could see that cul-de-sac again was if I stood on our roof.  It was the highest point that I could stand to even have a partial view of my one-time democratic playground.

But I digress; let’s go back to Mrs. Rich Neighbour’s invitation.  My mom surprisingly allowed us to go to Mrs. Rich Neighbour house along with my sister and a couple of kids from our neighbourhood.  I suspected that being a wife of a barangay councillor, she could not earn enough money to support her four growing children, let alone buy them color TV and VCR.  She might have been wary that once we see how affluent Felipe Suerte residents were, we would see ourselves differently.  Luckily, the opposite happened, at least for me. 

We arrived in Mrs. Rich Neighbour’s house while her kids were in the middle of watching “Annie” the musical. As I finally sat down on my neighbour’s big expensive couch, I heard Annie singing “Tomorrow.” And I thought, “I already watched little Lea Salonga singing this on TV, and she looked prettier and sang much better, plus what’s with the crazy red hair.  Lea had cute pig tails and she also sang ‘I am but a small voice.’”  Who would have thought that my little crush, Lea, would one day conquered West End and Broadway, and bag herself a Laurence Olivier and a Tony.  In contrast, John Huston’s film version of “Annie” sank into the box office.  Thank goodness it had Carol Burnett in it or else it would have sunk faster down the drain.

The next movie that we watched was “Superman” with Christopher Reeve. For me, that was the most exciting event. At last, a real life Superman, not just cartoon.  I eagerly waited for Superman’s first appearance, knowing in the back of my mind that my mom could call us up and ask us to go home.  It would not be polite staying so long a time in a rich person’s house.  We might sullied their marble floor or break something, what a shame.  Worst, my mother might have probably wouldn’t want them to look at us color TV-deprived kids with condescending eyes.  She is way too proud of a mother to subject her innocent socialist kids for that. Bravo mommy!

I first saw Krypton, luminous and ethereal.  I then saw Superman’s father Jor-el, played by Marlon Brando.  I didn’t know who Marlon Brandon was. For me, he just looked perfect as Superman’s father.  Then, I saw baby Kal-el ‘s space pod crashed landed on earth. Martha and Jonathan Kent adopted him and raised him as their own.  Then, I saw how sad the young Clark was when he looked at Lana as she got inside a football player’s car.  Thankfully, the new television Lana in “Smallville” (played beautifully by Kristin Kruek) is more complex, more interesting and definitely more of an independent young woman. 

Then Jonathan Kent died, Clark built his “Fortress of Solitude” near the North Pole and finally had a chance to talk with his real father. After a few minutes, the ever familiar Superman theme began to play and I saw Superman flying swiftly towards the screen, not enough to have a full view of my favorite hero.  It was a great teaser though. 

Next scene, Metropolis and one of the most influential scenes in my life: Fast talking, spunky, smart Lois Lane, busily typing. 

Jimmy Olsen: “Smile!”
Lois: (smiles) “How do you spell massacre?”
Jimmy Olsen:
“M-a-s-s-a-c-r-e.  Gee, Miss Lane, how come you always get good stories?”
Lois: “A good reporter doesn’t get great stories; a good reporter makes them great.”

And that was it. I was sold.  Margot Kidder is the best Lois Lane ever. She created the new Lois Lane template and she made Superman ever more super. I knew Superman would not fall for a beautiful quiet dumbass of a girl.  For me, Lois was Superman’s equal.  Why watch when you can create?

I was not able to finish the whole movie because our mother called us to go home. The next day, I couldn’t remember many details about Mrs. Rich Neighbour’s house but I recreated the entire Richard Donner Superman movie in our living room. I took all my mother’s cheap 20 rubber dolls that were displayed on our wooden shelves, and cast everyone in my own version of Superman. My mother got worried because I was playing with dolls.  I wished I could have told her, “Mom, I am not playing with dolls, I am recreating Kryptonian civilization. This one here is Marlon Brando.”  Later, I got tired of recreating Superman, and using my sister’s old history book as reference, I recreated Ancient Greek civilization, complete with the ruins of Parthenon.  I also re-enacted the Judgement of Paris, except in my version, Helen started killing everyone.  I just needed to finish the story so I could cast the 20 dolls in my next project, Star Wars!

And when my friends and I played outside, I always volunteered to play the evil scientist who continually created robot monster so that they could volt in and attacked my creation.  I always lost, of course.  It was in the script.  However, I got to create new things every week, and when I was not in the mood to play, they all just waited for my attack.  Their powerful machines parked like useless chunks of metal inside their military bases while I did my chores and my homework.  I was not only Dr. Hell, I was Prince Zardos and the Baron Ashura, but I still believed in peace.

Years later, whenever I ran out of good stories to write, I always think about Lois. “A good reporter doesn’t get great stories; a good reporter makes them great.”

And when someone threatens me (figuratively or literally), I remember Christopher Reeve as Superman saying, “Gentlemen, would you care to step outside.”

If legions of people want to put me down, as Prince Zardos, I yell, “Release Super Namazungo!” Knowing full well that I might lose but still, I have always relied on my "Namazungo." It hasn't failed me yet, even in defeat, it always comes back to life to fight another day.


No comments:

Post a Comment