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Love Letters
Feature by: Tiffany Limsico

From Raya Martin

Alexis was going to update his website Criticine real soon after years of inactivity. He commissioned film people for a project called Criticine: Love Letters where everyone had to address their passion for anything related to cinema. He thought that the problem with our culture is that we always on first impulse find weaknesses, flaws. This was one of the reasons why Alexis published just a few articles even if he had all the means and opportunities. He never wrote about a film he hated, because he thought it was a waste of space. He was out there to champion.

This is my love letter.

Yo pards,

I donít know where to begin. You probably were expecting me to write about something obscure. An excerpt from a script by Tarkovsky that he didnít get to shoot or a scene from a lost Ishmael Bernal film or a famous critic even the buffest of film buffs had never heard of. You know me very well even with this. I was always out there to impress the people and I know you hated me more and more as this happened, but some day pards you will see me come back to where we were and what it was.

Remember the first time we met. I know you remember it very well judging from your perfect pitch impersonation of me trying to impress the 2bU panel with all the sex talk. Then I approached you on the way to the parking lot trying to make small talk. But I already knew you were into film, and at that time I was so frustrated to transfer back to Manila and study film. I was not trying to pick you up sir.

Writing this on a rainy Saturday morning thinking Iím never going to see you again or get those invisible messages as soon as I wake up or when I get home drunk as hell or those random emails links quotes. Millions of emails that we kept sending to each other, every hour, every half-hour, sometimes real time, sometimes when weíre sitting next to each other. Links to film essays. MP3s of songs that touched you. Crazy pictures of Jessica Alba, one of your pathetic attempts to make me straight. I could be straight for you for one day, even if you were gay so many times for me. I taught you your first gay lingo and it was so successful for a time all you could say was chos. I miss you ate.

We were going to conquer the world together. You were my partner in crime every time everywhere. I was just watching Antonioniís Red Desert some days after I last saw you. Did you remember when we were running like crazy in Berlin to catch the screening because the theater was so far and it was raining. Wet snow everywhere, and we were balancing trying not to slip, a bus, a kilometer run, we were just on time. But first you had to get some food of course, chips, M&Ms. It was so quiet in the theater that it was difficult to eat those chips. It was also so cozy inside. We were taking turns waking each other up. In the end, I saw the first half and you saw the last one.

You were supposed to move out of the house the day your dad died. We were going to be housemates, a house full of DVDs and books and all those lovely things that we called cinema. I was going to shoot every second every minute of every day and you were going to write beautiful things about beautiful films made by beautiful people. We were going to publish the quintessential Filipino film magazine. We were going to write love letters to Hammy Sotto. We were going to make fun of bad films all day, and when weíre tired weíll just walk to Lavís place for some wine and diss some more. Khavn was going to pick us up, Arleen, John, Sherad, weíll drive to the end of the world. Weíll travel the world festival after festival after festival celebrating. I was going to watch girls with you and you were going to watch boys with me. We would find our inbox filled with mails from every famous critic in the world nagging about your article deadlines. Peranson wrote last night checking on all of us here. Iím so happy we got to do that pards, best English film magazine in the world, your first published article and you wrote about me. Tangina pards, Iím so happy for us we were always taking these steps together. Which is why I canít imagine life without you now. I canít imagine not getting any of those emails before my premieres saying how proud you are of me. I was hoping finally we would be in Cannes together soon. Apichatpong wanted to meet you finally.

I never told you how great your eyes were. Those eyes saw the truth.

Iíve always said that someday when I find a boyfriend, he will only be second to cinema, you know that pards. I love you more than cinema.

I miss you so much pards. The gang misses you so much. We were always arguing but I hope you know that we were always here for you. You had issues with each other but Khavn was first to arrive at your house that night. And John, after all that trouble, you and John now have the loveliest loves in the world. Lav and Sherad are having a discourse and never sleeping. And maybe I am going to sleep with Arleen one day, to try just for you.

I love you pards. Chos.

Letís meet on the big screen soon, you Nika and I.


PS. I take it back. You are Filipino and the country misses you.

Originally read at a memorial service for Alexis Tioseco and Nika Bohinc, 5 September, 2009, Santuario de San Antonio, Makati City.
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