Last night, we were treated to an Instagram Live performance by John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo. Previous posts from John Lloyd and directors Antoinette Jadaone and Dan Villegas on their respective Instagram accounts hinted at this social media gem.
John Lloyd posted this video five days ago. Thinking about it, was this a teaser to this Instagram Live as well?
Blurring the lines between spontaneous phone calls and performance art, cinema and social media, does it matter to us if it’s staged or not?
What matters at this point is that it made us feel something real. It was also relatable. It’s a conversation we’ve had as we cope with the lockdown via video calls. It’s a conversation that will keep coming up as we deal with the news and the rush of headlines that only leave us with questions.
In fact, in the latter part of their conversation, Bea and John Lloyd go into a sequence where they question identity and how we define what is real from the fictionalized version of ourselves.
Bea: Ito young kausap ko. Sino yan? Si John Lloyd or yung totoong ikaw?
John Lloyd: Sino nga ba yung totoong tayo? Mayroon bang ganun?
Let’s breakdown this video call/ performance art/ Instagram Live through the stages it went through. Set up like a typical conversation between old friends, it followed a pattern we’re familiar with both in real life and in the movies.
#1 Looking for the person to talk to
“Please somebody talk to me, kakausapin ko na yung wall” said Bea as she looked for someone who wanted to go Live with her. It was a long day of cooking bagoong rice for the frontliners of the National Institute of Health, University of the Philippines-Manila and it made sense she needed someone to just unwind with.
(She also gave us her recipe for bagoong rice. Thank you for that, Bea!)
#2 Getting that Internet to connect
Before Bea got to John Lloyd Cruz, she got cut and when John Lloyd jumped on the Live, his connection wasn’t the best. Arrgh! Someone please do something about Internet in the Philippines! If we can’t get Bea and John Lloyd to properly talk to each other in these times, does life even have meaning?
John Lloyd was pixelated for most of the Live but the two soldiered on.
#3 The awkward hello
As with any conversation between friends, it starts off a little awkwardly. “Ano to slam book?” John Lloyd teases as Bea reaches for a conversation starter by asking his favorite color. Bea proceeded to quiz John Lloyd and things got silly until it got comfortable. I bet you will hear this exchange quoted in the next few days:
John Lloyd: Favorite ulam?
Bea: Kilawing puso.
John Lloyd: Tama. Kilawing puso ng mga ex ko.
#4 Getting personal, getting philosophical
Once we’ve settled into the conversation, don’t we always get up in our feelings? This is not just the customary “How are you?” to be answered with the polite “I’m fine. And you?” We’ve had a full day of conference calls for that.
Trust John Lloyd (or the character he’s playing for this Instagram Live) to take it somewhere deep and heavy. He’s pessimistic and feeling helpless. He’s physically okay and in good company but he knows so many out there that aren’t in the same situation. He reflects not just on the deaths caused by COVID-19 but also on the extra-judicial killings, giving his take on the state of our nation.
John Lloyd: Alam mo sa totoo lang, nalulungkot ako para sa anak ko. Actually hindi, hindi lungkot eh. Mas takot. Natatakot ako para kay Elias. Natatakot ako kung pa’no ko siya palalakahin sa ganitong mundo, natatakot ako na dito ko siya palalakihin sa ganitong estado ng mundo. Iba na yung mundong ginagalawan natin, Bey, eh. Iba, ibang-iba na. Nakakatakot eh. Ang bilis nang mamatay ngayon, ang bills nang pumatay. Kaya iniisip ko, matatawag ba talaga nating maswerte yung mga sarili natin habang yung iba, yung hindi maswerte, nababaril ng ganun-ganun na lang sa kalye, namamatay na lang nang walang kalaban-laban dahil sa sakit? Ako nahihirapan akong sabihing swerte ako. Nakakahiya. Nakakahiya na maswerte ka. Wala ka namang magawa.
Bea, or at least this version of the actress, tries to wake up him by saying that hopelessness is not an option.
Bea: Ano ka ba. Alam mo feeling mo lang wala kang magagawa. Pero sa totoo lang, marami tayong pwedeng gawin, tayong mga maswerte.
Of course, the conversation goes beyond the two people involved and perhaps echoes the sentiments of the Live viewers.
John Lloyd: Alam mo, yan din ang tanong ko eh. Maswerte ba talaga tayo? Iisang mundo lang tayo, iisang bansa lang tayo. Kung ano yung nangyayari sa kanila, nangyayari rin sa’tin, nangyayari rin sa anak ko. Ako wala akong choice kasi dito ko kailangan palakihin yung anak ko sa ganitong estado ng mundo… di ko alam kung maswerte pa rin tawag dun?
#5 Getting political
Like it or not, intentionally or not, we always end up getting political these days. John Lloyd and Bea went for the jugular in this exchange, saying how one must not neglect to remind the government of its role. The help from the private sector, though valiant and commendable, is limited and won’t be enough in the long run.
John Lloyd: Kasi, Bey, hindi naman siya sustainable eh. Maiiwan yung tao na umaasa na bukas may magluluto, magpa-pack, magbibigay, magpapakain. Ang tanong nga, pano kung wala?
Bea: Ano yun, parang ako na yung tumutulong ako pa yung nakakaasama, ganun?
John Lloyd: Hindi ko sinasabing masama tumulong. Yung nga yung pinupunto ko.
Bea:Eh parang ganun kasi yung sinasabi mo.
John Lloyd: Ang sinasabi ko lang dapat tulong lang siya. ‘Di ba? Yun nga yung point eh. Tulong lang dapat. Dagdag. Kasi dapat may ibang bahala diyan, ‘di ba?. Hindi naman pe-pwedeng aasa na lang lagi sa kabutihan ng kapwa, ‘di ba? Dapat merong nanggagaling sa taas, sa kinauukulan.
Bea: Kaya nga, yun nga yung sinasabi ko, Idan, habang wala pa, habang naghihintay, tumulong na yung pwedeng tumulong. Yun nga.
John Lloyd: Ilang linggo na kasi eh, ‘di ba. Parang sobrang tagal na nilang naghihintay, Bey.
#6 The back and forth
Afterward, John Lloyd and Bea got into a series of questions and answers. Here was Bea trying to keep her beacon of hope shining, while John Lloyd was managing his optimism.
John Lloyd: Yun yung nakakalungkot. Yung gutom kasi, Bey, kayang mapunan eh. ‘Di ba, pag gutom, pagkain nakakaalis niyan. ‘Pag uhaw, tubig. Pano ‘pag hindi na lang gutom, pano ‘pag takot na? ‘Pag malungkot na? Pano pag galit na? Yang mga yan hindi kaya tanggalin ng pagkain, di ba? Di kaya tanggalin ng tubig, ng relief ops, lagpas na yan sa pisikal eh. Paano pag yung loob na yung nagugutom? Pano pag kaluluwa na yung walang-wala na? Yun ang nakakatakot. Gutom na nga ang tiyan, gutom pa pati kaluluwa.
As the questions become bigger, Bea reaches the inevitable end we’ve said ourselves when we’ve run out of answers: “Sana may taong makasagot ng gusto mo.”
John Lloyd replies “Okay lang hindi naman dapat tayo ang sumasagot niyan.” It’s an apt ending but it also points back as to how the certain responsibilities are not in our hands.
After going through the emotional train ride, Bea hits the breaks smoothly. But not before John Lloyd gets a parting message in about the importance of a good discussion.
Bea: Nag-away ba tayo?
John Lloyd: OA.
John Lloyd: Ang hilig mo maglagay ng label sa lahat ng… Hindi tayo nag-aaway, nagdidiskusyon lang… Alam mo pag 18 years na kayong magkakilala kahit magdiskusyon kayo ng mataas ng boses o hindi, tingin ko okay lang naman siguro yun.
#8 Walking down memory lane
To add some more to that entertainment factor, the two start repeating their respective lines from their hit movies and shows. The quotes are not throwaway either and serve as their follow-up commentary done in a light-hearted way.
John Lloyd delivers a speech from ‘Kay Tagal Kang Hinintay’, a drama series he starred in with Lorna Tolentino.
Of course, they bring out the big guns with lines from ‘One More Chance.’ They also tried their best to sing “I’ll Never Go.”
Don’t we like to remember the good old days…the memories of NOT being on lockdown? We wonder what life is going to be like when we try to go back to normal.
Or as John Lloyd puts it: Nandoon ka nung nag-mahal ako. Nandoon ka nung nasakatan ako. Nandoon ka nung wala akong matakbuhan. Nandoon ka nung kailangan ko ng kaibigan. Nandoon ka nung kailangan ko ng kausap. Pag binabalikan ko lahat ng yun, minsan hindi ko alam kung ano pa tayo, kung sino tayo. Pero okay kasi yung mahalaga, nadoon ka. Yun lang sapat, sapat na iyon.”
There’s a point in any video call that we instinctively know that it’s time to go in a bit. And so we wrap it up with some realizations. Bea closes it with this: Now it all makes sense kahit na may naramdaman akong mali. I chose to look away. I chose to keep quiet kasi ang sabi ko ang nagmamahal naniniwala, nagtitiwala.
#10 Good-bye and back to reality
John Lloyd, of course, breaks down the performative quality of it as he asks: “Sabi ni Basha or sabi mo? ”
“Sabi ni Basha pero ako rin,” replies Bea.
As with any good movie or performance, there’s a closing song. John Lloyd breaks out the guitar for “You Are My Sunshine.”
The two eventually say good-bye with John Lloyd saying he needs to put his son to sleep.
Perfectly done to further blur that space between reality and performance, Bea stares bit into the camera with nary a good-bye to the viewers before signing off.