Turn off those cellphones and earn people's respect!

Turn off those cellphones and earn people's respect! 
By Walter Ang
March 10, 2001
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Last Sunday, a friend invited me to watch "Mansfield Park" at the Glorietta Cinema. We're both avowed fans of the movie "Sense and Sensibility", another movie based on a Jane Austen book, so we figured Mansfield Park might be worth a look.

About halfway through the movie, an old grandfather sat beside me. He whipped out his cellphone and promptly started to compose a text message. He had one of those annoyingly bright blue screens that is even more distracting than the regular green ones.

Of course, I wasn't about to raise a ruckus just because this man was using his cellphone inside the movie theater. It's a given these days that most people do not have a clue when it comes to cellphone etiquette. (I still believe those elementary school lessons on phone etiquette should be updated to include cellphone and email etiquette.) In most instances, a politely worded request usually does the trick. Usually.

I leaned in a little closer and whispered, "Excuse me, could you please turn off your cellphone? It's very distracting." Nothing happened. I thought he may hot have heard me since he was an old man, probably in his mid-60s. About four minutes later, he still hadn't turned it off. He was still eagerly punching away at his keypad. I leaned in again and repeated my request, a little louder this time.

What happened afterwards was one of the most surreal things that has ever happened to me. This old frail grandfather stared at me and said sternly, "You don't look at this! It's none of your business! Stupid!"

I was blown away at how incredibly rude this person was! If it had been a young child, I would've assumed he had lousy parents. If it had been a teenager, I would have blamed it on the clichéd teenage angst.

But sitting next to me was an old grandfather blatantly using his cellphone in a theater where it was supposed to be banned. I obviously couldn't pick a fight with him even if I wanted to. I was so taken aback by what he said that all I could mutter in response was an incredulous, "You're not even supposed to be using that inside the theater!" To which his wife, who was sitting beside him, promptly replied, "Walang ka ng pakialam!" (It's none of your business) Talk about adding insult to injury!

What is that walang kamatayang (undying) complaint of the older generation? That the youth are rude and have no respect for everyone and everything. Apparently, some people never outgrow this trait! They should change that adage that older people deserve respect. People (young or old) certainly deserve courtesy, but not deserve respect. Respect has to be earned.

Costly manners
This person can afford a cellphone. He has enough extra money to toy around with so he gets himself a nifty blue screen and an added design acetate to boot. How come he can't afford some manners as well? Mansfield Park is not your everyday blockbusting box office hit. One would assume that the only people who would be interested in watching it would have at least completed high school. Is this the kind of behavior one expects from educated people?

But money and education (or lack of it) is not the issue here. Are people so smitten by the novelty of high tech gadgets these days that basic human interaction skills are completely forgotten? The age of the Jetsons is already here, but the Flintsones would put our behavior to shame.

As for the cinema's management, I do take this feedback seriously. They deserve kudos for bringing in arthouse films, but can they please do something about maintaining order? A short message at the beginning of the movie is clearly not enough. I'm sure they can easily have a check-in counter for communication devices.

The local production of "Ms. Saigon" is the only theater production doing this so far. But when I went to see another play at the CCP and the guards found out I wasn't watching Ms. Saigon, they let me in without a second glance. Oh well, at least someone's started doing it. Check-in counters will certainly not be a hundred percent effective, but at least it will serve as a reminder to movie patrons.

Block those signals!
Better yet, movie theater owners and theatre companies/producers could invest in a device featured in the year end issue of Time magazine. It's called C-guard and it's described as "a jammer device that ? cuts-off communications between cellular handsets and cellular base-stations." In other words, within its area of coverage, it renders use of cell phones useless. If restaurants and movie houses here start using these devices and advertise that they do, I'll be sure to patronize those establishments. Hint, hint to all those owners and managers out there! Consumers have a voice you know.

Let me just say that, yes, I do have a cellphone myself, lest some readers start complaining that I'm just an envious, bitter cellphone coveting loser. I turn off my cellphone when I watch movies and plays. I turn it off when I'm in a place of worship. I put it in mute mode when I'm eating with someone in a restaurant. These are not hard things to do!

Oh yes, by the way, Mansfield Park is worth watching. It's funny and paced well, faltering a little only near the end of the movie. Of course, maybe you should just rent a copy and watch it at the comfort of your own home.

Lee-Limketkai Wedding: A colorful Oriental wedding

Lee-Limketkai Wedding: A colorful Oriental wedding 
By: Walter Ang
March 4, 2001
Philippine Daily Inquirer

"Kulit!" was what Noel first thought when he met Bonita. On the other hand, she considered him, "sungit." As with classic love stories the world over, in this case, first impressions certainly did not last because one year later, Noel Georgson Lee asked Bonita Limketkai to marry him.

Daughter of Alfonso and Benita Limketakai, Bonita was born in the Philippines but raised in Toronto, Canada, and took up her MBA in Calgery. Noel, son of George and Concepcion Lee, on the other hand, grew up here and attended the Ateneo, taking up chemistry.

First catching each others' eye at a family gathering, with the gentle prodding of their matchmaker Atty. Geronimo Sy, they exchanged wedding vows at the Manila Cathedral in January this year. The bride wore a gown by Oliver Tolentino and had 24 children serving as attendants and flower girls. Principal sponsors were led by the Honorable Edgardo Angara and Ms. Gloria Angara..

Reception followed at the Grand Ballroom of the Shangri-La Hotel in Makati with a theme of Oriental fusion. Colors used were rich, designs were elaborate and intricate. Flavors of Chinese, Thai, and even Indian cultures were infused into the festive mood.

Guests invited from all over the world were already given a hint when their invitations arrived wrapped in crisp parchment paper, sealed in the center like a document that could have been received by a Chinese Emperor.

As guests from Europe, China, Taiwan, Singapore and other places from around the globe entered the ballroom, they were greeted with the music of a Chinese orchestra from the Philippine Institute of Quezon City led by conductor Mr. So Giao. As they sat down, they were given a floral treat with the centerpieces on each table, arranged in an ikebana-inspired style by Junjun Hen.

To complete the Oriental theme, a towering wedding cake with a dragon and a phoenix intertwined was created by Penk Ching and Shen Chen of the Pastry Bin. Even the décor used in the ballroom added to the atmosphere as the bride even traveled to Shanghai several months before the wedding to purchase large scarlet obis, silk sashes and bright, red lanterns.

The large authentic lanterns hung magnificently in the middle of the ballroom, with a couple of smaller ones laid on the four corners of the dancing area. A fitting stage for the newlywed's favorite children, swathed in bright red and yellow Chinese outfits, when they performed a cute little number for the newlyweds.

As the guests feasted on a Chinese lauriat, they were serenaded with love songs by host Michael Sy Lim, who also assisted Bonita's sister Donna in the creating the look and feel for the day. It's fitting that these two creative individuals had a hand in developing the day's theme; Donna had taken up fashion design at the FIT in New York.

Instead of the usual games for the bachelors and single ladies, a trivia game about the couple was concocted a la "Pera o Bayong" (a popular game on a noontime variety show) style, which amused everyone as the "contestants" rushed towards the letter of the correct choice. The afternoon was completed with provisions of little bells that guests could ring instead of the traditional tinkling of silverware on their glasses so they could urge the newlyweds to give each other a loving kiss.