Friday, June 3, 2011

A message for the graduates

I hope this post not too late but what the heck, every year there are almost 400,000 college graduates in the Philippines so I think this one will still be a good reading for any student or used to be studes like me. Thisis my latest movie review published in The Philippine Star last May 23, 2011.

How time flies. If it wasn’t for my niece asking if she could borrow a mono block chair that she’ll use in their graduation rites practice last March, I’ll still find it hard to believe that it was again graduation time. To think I still have a wrapped Christmas present lying on my table because one of my godsons did not visit me last December.

During these times, you’ll start hearing from young people asking one another, “When’s your last day?” or “Will you make it.” Words that can make any paranoid soul run wild and panic. Funny, those questions were also the exact words I often ask to fellow students when I was still studying more than a decade ago.

I can still remember a month before graduating from college, a professor suggested that we watch a movie called St. Elmo’s Fire either in VHS or CD format. I had a hard time looking for the title but really needed to see it so I can get some extra points from my creative writing class to make up for my absences that was quite unavoidable that time for a working student like me.

It was my first time to hear about the movie and the only St. Elmo’s Fire I know was the electrical weather phenomenon in which luminous plasma is created by a coronal discharge originating from a grounded object, which is something I learned from high school Science.

The movie was a 1985 American coming-of-age film directed by Joel Schumacher (Dying Young, Batman Forever, The Phantom of the Opera). The film, starring Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, and Mare Winningham, revolves around a group of friends that have just graduated from Georgetown University and their adjustment to their post-university lives and adult responsibilities.

Aside from the distinctive ’80s hairstyle, outfit and music, St. Elmo’s Fire also captured the feeling of recent graduates as they decide what to do with their lives. I believe it is a universal feeling that every individual will experience as they trek the road towards adulthood. From the fear of not landing a job to deciding when to have a family of his own, confusions like these are only some of the obstacles that the youth will have to hurdle while taking bigger steps in the real world.

The film begins by presenting each of the seven main characters in full graduation uniform as they walk along the campus. A sudden twist comes as the next sequence shows Billy (Lowe) and Wendy (Winningham) in a hospital after figuring in a car accident. It’s like telling the audience that after graduation, things can really be a bumpy ride, figuratively and literally in this case.

The two characters would eventually get out of the hospital and meet with the rest of the gang in their favorite college hang-out, St. Elmo’s Bar. I’d like to think that every barkada or peer group has its own so-called “hideout” where you get the feeling of home with your best buds. In this place, it’s anything goes and many things like secret crushes, homework, failing grades, family problems and even petty things are discussed within the circle of friends. In our case, we found it in this big round bench with a tall three in the center providing a shade to people. We call it Batibot in front of the CAS Building in UE Manila because it resembles the one seen in the popular kiddie TV show.

After graduation, our group needed to have a new place to meet since there will be new students who will discover that place and claim it their own. Well, my college barkada found that meeting place not in all the places we have shared good times and bad times during our college days but in front of our PCs. Thanks to Facebook, we could poke one another anytime we want.

Through online chat and e-mail messages, we are able to share thoughts, plans, fond memories and just about anything we can think of that very moment we are online. And just like in the movie, life is not all fun after all. We share personal problems from financial matters to losing a job, to thinking of a good business venture and plans for our kids. That’s reality. Unfortunately, it’s something that I used to think is much pleasant when I was in college. I even wrote in my movie review for my English class that some things suggested in St. Elmo’s Fire are a bit exaggerated. I ate my words the very day I started looking for a job.

But it’s not all drama in the film. There are a lot of funny scenes which can still make today’s young adult audience laugh. One of my favorites is this amusing line delivered by Billy: ”So you lost your job? I’ve lost 20 of them since graduation. Plus a wife and kid. And, in a new development this morning, a handful of hair in the shower drain.”

The movie ends showing the group during their graduation ceremony, the same scene where it started. This time, once they’ve reached their fave hangout, the group decides to have brunch but not at St. Elmo’s Bar; they instead choose another bar called Houlihan’s because there’s “not so many kids” there. A great ending to show that they are finally moving on from college life and ready to enter the real world as adults.

Personally, I may have yet to realize the dream that I once envisioned when I was still a college student but I am not complaining. Life has been good. I have an eight-to-five job with two days-off a week, a loving and understanding wife and a son who has been my inspiration to do better in work and in everything I do.


chino said...

this is my favorite movie... =)

Richard Mamuyac said...

Yup... nice talaga ng movie na 'to. inspiring :-)