Time was when moviegoing was a common dating fare, as every oldtimer are won’t to say in between exclaimed outbursts of ecstacy whenever the remembrance stirred up something deeply embedded somewhere.

Them good ol’days, when Baguio’s cinemahouses along Session Road would pack it in just a bit after a leisurely lunch, the twosomes trekking up the stairs in apparent nonchalance, except for a look back every now and then.

Them good ol’ days, when Love Story on deck at the downtown theatre, and the queuing lines would reach farther down, as if the city’s universities had a sudden dropdown in the usual student convergences.

Moviegoing will be the favorite fare beginning Sunday, but in a far different milieu. Not along Session Road, where the two theatres have long been something else. Not even at the decrepit cinemahouse near the plaza, where action films lorded ‘em over, even the rowdy characters easily sworn to expletives after a noontime dog fare nearby.

This time, it’s Montanosa time, a uniquely designed film festival that will be shown in uniquely curated locations — at Burnham Park, from aboard boats where twosomes can spend an hour or two carousing what’s on screen, their words unspoken but glittering just the same;

This time, it’s Montanosa time, at the Loakan airport runway beginning March 28 all the way to the 28th, but this time in a recreated drive-in concept where folks, up to foursome, are cocooned inside a beaten Volkswagen, watching what’s going on screen and perhaps anywhere the roving eyes can dart around.

So if this is how the filmfest comes to town, where’s the movie crowd? In our homes, in the cool comfort of our lounging places, still at home, enjoying the company of family and close intimates, and getting a feel of what’s livestreamed into devices unheard of in the 60s and 70s.

For something like this and many more events packed in a week-long menu, the Montanosa filmfest seems to have caught up with even the most jaded metro crowd itching to ramp up over here. Already, Ferdie Balanag, who braintrusted it and jammed it all in the last two months, it’s a hurrah of a surprise that non-Baguioites are themselves agog over this cultural makeover of what was once a once-a-week Pinoy habit.

Be in step. Step into the Montanosa fever at least for a week. It’s Baguio’s giant step into global tourism, this time woven out through the language of film.

As Mayor Benjie enthuses early on, “the Montanosa Film Festival begins to roll out reels of film to celebrate one week of film making achievement “ at a time when cinamtic experiences have of late been on an on today, off tomorrow binge.

Indeed, for the first time ever, amid the pandemic that has remained a virulent threat, “Baguio is showcasing its creative competence that can only be deeply felt when spoken through the language of film.
“Montanosa is all about our city, our region, our culture and the arts, and the rejuvenating environment that is markedly discerned in Baguio nowadays. More than any other theme, love is it that anyone seeing the Montanosa films would plumb into: love of nature, love of art, love of culture, love of being Filipino at a time of adversity.”

Talk of resurging tourism and Montanosa comes to mind. Regardless of time, it is every inch an exemplary effort to showcase the legendary attractions that humbly make Baguio a safe haven of a people resilient amid challenges.

Talk of a people unbroken by the pandemic, and you talk of Baguio folks refusing to yield even an inch to despair, fighting it out, blazing new trails, breaking fresh ground, just to begin anew.

Creative thrusts like this is simply our unique way of presenting how we can even be stronger, unfazed by the difficulties we have been facing all this time.

There is, after all, no denying the depths of suffering we have all gone through and still emerged virtually unscathed. Refusing to bow down in times like now should speak volumes of the singular way to present how proud, resilient, and courageous we’ve all been.

For aren’t we a people gifted with sparkling talent, the collective soul soaring high, ever confident in its competence, character, and courage to rise above challenges?