I stand there, eye to eye, with the Great Sphinx of Giza as my feet imbibe the warmth of the sand. Afterwards, I put on my backpack to trek and get lost at the Grand Canyon. My unreliable sense of direction manages to find the way out to one of the stalls in Akihabara district in Tokyo, Japan.
I also got lost at Mt. Damas in Tarlac, Philippines. Photo by Karah Decapia.
How am I able to do all of these in just one sweep? I watch a movie, or a TV drama.
Production companies are like travel agencies, offering package tours to consumers, in the form of movies. A film is like a comprehensive tour, complete with transportation, accommodation, food, culture, music, art and most specially, story and experience.
Movies can also be considered the best tour bargains. Only a small portion of one’s salary is needed, plus it will not require full-blown leaves from work. More or less two hours is enough, unless one is catching films from Filipino director Lav Diaz, whose movies range from more than an hour to almost 9 hours of running time.
So sit back, relax and join me in this trip.
The old seats at the University of the Philippines Cine Adarna.
Business class or economy?
Seats and services depend on what movie we are seeing. Hollywood movies will always offer the finest cruise cabins of Titanic. The science fiction genre may even give us an exclusive cockpit tour to outer space, like in Gravity. Aladdin‘s magic carpet ride is also always available for those who seek Alice in Wonderland.
Upon arrival at our destination, there is always a choice between the local bus or a local taxi from our favorite crime film, and make a Pulp Fiction kind of confession. Who will not want a rickshaw ride with Bruce Lee from the Fist of Fury. Or we can try the Philippine kalesa from the historical film Jose Rizal, for a more nostalgic effect.
For accommodation, an independent film, may not be able to book us a first class hotel. But it can definitely remind us that there probably is “no place like home” just like the Cinemalaya 2005 Best Production Design winner, Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros. And we can always lie down with Mother Earth, or even over a frozen body of water, like that star-watching scene from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
But for budget travelers like me, we can always experience luxury treatment, every once in a while, through movies. Biopics can always grant us a chance to sit on the royal throne from The King’s Speech. Political films may give us exclusive passes to the official Presidential residence like in White House Down. A movie adaptation, on the other hand, can guide us through the Hogwarts castle of Harry Potter.
After settling down in our choice of accommodation, it is now time to mingle with our destination.
Complimentary Gourmet Meals
Stomachs growling from the long journey? The national cinema can offer us the best food tripping experience, from gourmet cuisines to budget meals.
For the first course, we can have a Korean soup from Le Grand Chef. This appetizer also comes with a free historical discourse between Korea and Japan. Then we can try some Jiro Ono sushi to stimulate our palates and learn the culinary discipline from the full-length documentary about the first sushi chef to receive three Michelin stars.
For the main course, we can have satisfying Filipino dishes from the upcoming Cinemalaya 2016 entry Kusina by Cenon Obispo Palomares and David Corpuz. This film will feature how we Filipinos make our cooking special by using a secret ingredient called pagmamahal (love). For dessert, we can enjoy the enchanted sweets from a small French village in Chocolat.
After that, we can enjoy our to-go coffee, just like Holly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s while we search for some Hong Kong street food from Chungking Express. Then there is always the popular Filipino fertilized duck egg called balut which we can enjoy through Balut Country, an official entry to Sinag Maynila Film Festival 2015.
Exclusive Gig passes
Experiencing the culture of each destination is a must for every traveler. And every film is also somewhat a virtual recital of some of the famous and award-winning artists in the world.
The Star Wars saga will never be complete without the signature John Williams symphony. Hayao Miyazaki films will not feel as magical if not for the accompanying music of Joe Hisaishi. Polish music can also be appreciated through the movie The Pianist.
Films also feature actual artist performances, like that Madonna act on the 1985 film Vision Quest. Ang Nawawala (What Isn’t There), an official entry to the 2012 Cinemalaya Film Festival, is an on-screen gig of Philippine indie rock musicians like Pedicab, The Strangeness, Flying Ipis, Ang Bandang Shirley and Ebe Dancel.
We can also tag along a whole European tour of one of Japan’s most promising bands today, ONE OK ROCK, through their full-length documentary, Fool Cool Rock.
There are also art gigs from Frida, showcasing Mexican art to the world. Still Life, on the other hand, another entry to Cinemalaya 2007, is a showcase of Filipino talent.
When we travel, specially when we are alone, we discover a lot of new things about ourselves, as much as about our destinations. Traveling acts as our own personal psychologists, healing us every time we go out together.
Films also offer free life counseling, especially if we can relate to the stories of the protagonists. Ordinary People, the 1981 Academy Best Picture, features one of the most healing conversations of all time.
The drama series Hannibal also gives us an interesting relationship between therapist and patient.
Indeed, films have that ability to take us to our next destination, be it magical or realistic.
So while saving up for my next trip, let me enjoy some more films first, and use my imagination to go anywhere I want.
“So, Direk, what’s our next film?” At the Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong. Photo by Mai Calapardo.