With time and place promptly set, and eager attendees gradually flocking to Circuit Makati, the almost morose, unexpectedly bleak atmosphere in the early evening of February 18 was not the subject on everyone’s minds. Instead, guests braced themselves for the incoming barrage of films and live performances that was promised by the Green Media Group in Tagpo: Isang Pagtitipon.
Before sitting down on the Plop! Inflatable sofas lying around Power Mac Center Spotlight, music and film enthusiasts walked to the line of concessionaires inside the theater and outside in the roof deck. As promised, the locally-owned concessionaires brought their specialties from snacks to dinner.
The event started with BennyBunnyBand and so did the feast. People lined up to get sandwiches from Cheese Steak Shop and Lemonade from Lemon 101 while others started the night early with some beer from Roots Beer & Co. When the short films started to roll in, quesadillas and nachos from Noble Comida were the favorite to munch on.
On the roof deck, more stalls were waiting to fill up the hungry stomachs of those who had just digested the art, films, and music. One of them was Fratelli’s, another favorite finger food eaten while watching the films. Beside Fratelli’s was Haochi Egg Waffles, which immediately sold out in the middle of the event. For dinner, Papa’s gourmet sisig in a jar and Dem Wings’ chicken wings were also served.
While there were plenty of films and music to soak in, Tagpo offered a bounty of food that kept the attendees going through the night, and filled with enthusiasm and an appetite.
As tempting as it would have been to spend the Saturday night dwelling in the comforts of home, sitting side by side amongst great company with delectable food on hand and award-winning short films reeling out one after another wasn’t such a bad alternative. The event’s setup of inflatable couches sprawled across the grounds of the venue provided a unique and intimate charm, enhancing the classic movie experience.
Setting the atmosphere for the night was Joaquin Pantaleon’s daring, and gritty film Pukpok, which told the story of a young boy standing before the brink of manhood, but is faced with a hurdle characterized by superstitious beliefs and blood. Shortly after, Isabel Quesada’s Pektus got the audience gripping their seats as it tackled the good and bad through the stories of two men whose paths intersect in a life-changing incident.
Pusong Bato, Martika Escobar’s funny and charming story about a woman who develops a relationship with a rock, was met with much appraisal from the audience. Meanwhile, Mon Garilao’s award-winning masterpiece, Fish Out of Water, captivated eyes with its cinematic sequences and coming-of-age plot. The night took on a somber tone as Wawa, a powerful silent film directed by Anj Macalanda that tackles death and coping with it, played out on the screen. The last film featured in Tagpo was Oda Sa Mga Nangarap, an award-winning film by JM Jamisola that was met with a round of applause as the credits rolled. The story revolved around a comedian who recently lost his job as he takes the audience on a journey through his mind.
Tagpo’s noteworthy lineup of short films was a celebration of the rising independent filmmaking scene as well as the talented local filmmakers behind them. Along with their stunning visuals and captivating storylines, the films were able to deliver fresh perspectives that go beyond regular, cookie-cutter plots, leaving the audience laughing, gasping, and pondering amidst the twists and turns.
First to grace the stage was BennyBunnyBand, whose skin-tight, silver basketball jerseys and rapid ukulele strumming reminiscent of early Beatles skiffle made for an interesting visual and sonic statement—an apt welcome to the arriving crowd. Playing samples from their rather slim, yet impressive, discography, the three-piece group emanated both comic energy and musical prowess in their kinetic 30-minute set, which was closed off with a solid delivery of Dear Laarni, their best known hit to date.
The shift from upbeat to mellow would likely have been too striking had there been no films to fill in the interims between the bands, as Hannah + Gabi’s dreamy, verging-on-hypnotic guitar and keyboard work stood in stark contrast to the sounds that first blared within the auditorium a couple hours ago.
But the clamor and excitement at that point was yet to be surpassed by the acts that followed. Lugging their instruments onto the stage with self-effacing grace, Ang Bandang Shirley—with their expansive catalogue of nostalgic anthems of romance (which included the hit Umaapaw)—sent the audience into a frenzy of unmistakable bliss.
The guys of Lola Amour then stood to be the next subjects of the crowd’s unyielding hype. The band’s effortless delivery of funk-style riffs, cool vocals, and trumpet solos did not disappoint, and even provided a kind of prelude to Jensen and The Flips’ set—the last one for the night. As soon as the first couple of songs were played, there was a palpable change in the air, a dissipation of inhibitions as people started clapping and dancing to Slow and Borrowed despite the inflatable seats that covered the floor.