May 15, 2005

Twilight of the Gods

Last week, the fair gods of Mt. Olymp... i mean, Banahaw descended upon our humble hospital to do their celestial spectacle. It was our good fortune to witness with our eyes wide open their show. That stupid and insipid Filipino telenovela, "Hiram" shot their third to the last episode in the annex beside our building where the service wards are located. This means that through our glass wall, we were treated to a box office seat to their shooting. Curious enough, our residents were literally stuck at the glass wall trying to figure out who was who inside the annex.

It was already late, probably 8 p.m. when different glinting SUVs paraded in front of the annex and the ABS-CBN van parked its big rear in front of the back gate. We suspected a shooting was at the offing. They practically owned the street. A handful of tambays crowded the street along with their two-stroke tricycles jostling for space. Some our patients' bantays were all agog at our balcony where they witnessed first-hand how the teary-eyed Kris Aquino hugged the equally teary-eyed Dina Bonnevie. Why is it that unlike Korean telenovelas, ours is a continuous one-hour cryfest interjected with infinite permutations of scandal-inducing scenes like slapping, hair-pulling, and public shouting? Even actors cry for no apparent reason. It seems that we measure a celebrity's talent by how much tears, sipon and laway he or she can produce in front of the camera. A very mature way measuring it up.

There were only two takes and it went for like three hours. It was an excruciatingly slowwww process. There were crew members adjusting the lighting, the tomboy directress directing, some stars eating a light dinner in styro packs at the third floor balcony, and some actors milling around watching us eating dinner in our office. My female co-intern was floored that time because as she was making a phone call at the balcony, a male star (Aigenman was it?) waved at her while mimicking her call. She would hound me for the next hour with that diatribe.

After exhausting the initial excitement of seeing stars in the bare flesh, we sauntered back to the wards for our nightly rounds and patients' calls thinking that that was it. They were so far from our visual grasp which confirms the ugly truth that these stars like Kris are protected by an invisible bubble-wrap which no ordinary mortal can reach into. We had this mindset that the closest way you will ever see these stars was to watch them in the television, and not in front of where you're standing.

And also, it was surprising that these stars would start filming at a time when ordinary people are eating their dinners and getting ready to go to bed. It must be very tiring on their part to smile and pander at the camera when their bodies are in need of rest. Oh yeah, it's also tiring on our part to smile and be "patient" with patients when our bodies are equally in need of sleep.

So, at around 2 a.m., I walked to the admissions office to check and update our census if there are any new patients (and hopefully, to interview while they're awake.) I sensed a bit of wierdness that through the hallway, large black cables slithered like snakes in search for prey. I followed it and I was surprised to see a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

It was the feast for the senses. I saw Kris Aquino with two alalays fanning her and doling her with a half-full Starbucks frappucino while the Snow Queen was loudly talking in her natural Game Ka Na Ba accent to fellow stars like the quiet Dina Bonnevie. There were extras sitting by the wall- nurses, doctors, patients and relatives. I saw Heart Evangelista stood and took her cue. She lied down in an ER stretcher with ketchup blood in her stomach, just like Ann Curtis who was already lying down in hers. Obviously, in this episode both of the teen princesses will be fortunately shot at their entrails. In real life, that would be a blast.

I saw my partner at the end of the flood-lighted, cable-strewn hallway wherein I signaled her to come over my side so she could have a vantage point in observing these demigods. I just realized that these stars were real people, like you and me, made of skin and bones- not unreachable gods that TV project them to be. They actually sat on those bacteria-infested curved metallic chairs where the asses of patients and relatives once rested. They're not so special at all. And at 2 a.m. in the morning, it was unbelievable. They must be really tired now.

After they set up the flood lights (which heated the room to a microwavable level) and positioned those 70s cameras and after they prompted the extras in uniforms, the directress shouted "Action." Immediately, we saw the ER personnel hurriedly (leisurely to be more exact) brought the two bloodied stretchers into the Emergency room. And (ho-hum!) a teary eyed Kris went to this actress and Mr. Aigenman and hugged them. Instant tears! And cut! At one moment, she was clarifying her actions with her directress in a voice dripping with aristocracy and suddenly, she quickly changed into a crying and affecting victim.

At long last, we were able to pass the shoot so as to go to the Admitting Office. As we deviously passed by, I can't help but steal a long hungry glance at the stars. Dina Bonnevie was sexy as usual, I mean for a lady that old, she's still sexy. As for Queen Kris, I can see the fats of her cheeks were already sagging and a few stress lines furrowed at the edge of her temples. But she's still regal and pretty (for her age). And Heart was a waif-life creature exuding a warmth of the studio's floodlights. Mr. Aigenman was already teetering into dozing off. They were all human beings endowed with imperfections. It was a really nice epiphany.

And after getting an updated list (thankfully no one was added then), we returned to our office to retire- but not with a smile reminding us that we have witnessed something special and that we shall keep this fleeting memory in our hearts forever (yeah, right! Probably for a week!). A night with the gods was simply too much for mere mortals like us.

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