A FILM BUFF'S PARADISE
By : Iris Ayong / Manila Times / 7 May 2004
For someone whose exposure had the regular swipe-my-membership-card kind of video shops, this will only have to be another one of those neighborhood stalls. So why would the likes of Lino Brocka, Nick Joaquin, Lualhati Bautista, Ricky Lee, Laurice Guillen, Jeffrey Jeturian and other noted storytellers trek all the way to West Avenue just to rent a couple of videos? Geez, maybe because there’s something more to it than housing that, which you may have seen on Philippine silverscreen.
Unknown to many is that this rare shop had been standing there for the past 15 years. The soft-spoken owner Simon Santos showed us around this haven. Video 48 (the name is culled from its address—48 West Avenue), a two-story unit where the popular titles in VHS, VCD and DVD are found in the first floor, while the laser disc and betamax copies are kept upstairs. Noticeable is a list of Oscar winners and another list of the best 100 films. More than 95 percent of the titles in the list may be found in the shop.
It all began in 1988 when movie home viewing was only made possible by the betamax and then a little later by the Laser Disc. Santos, a film-lover himself, collected his favorite films in these formats. His early collection of 200 titles included the films of Alfred Hitchcock, John Wayne, James Stewart, Gary Cooper, Vittorio de Sica, Frederico Fellini, Kurosawa and Almodovar. When his friends began borrowing his copies, an idea fell on his lap and kindled the urge to put up a video-renting business. "My family was then growing and I needed extra jinglers in my pocket," he said. "But is was a risky venture. Back then, in the late eighties, video shops were opening all over the country. Also, cable television networks were being established and film piracy was becoming rampant. I had to be careful of how these might affect the business, but I chose to offer renters an alternative by making my own collection of classics and art films available."
Santos, whose father is the revered artist Malang, travels to Singapore, Hong Kong and the US to shop for more prestigious titles like Trainspotting, Amelia, The Godfather series, Il Postino, La Dolce Vita, Z, The Bicycle Thief and Rashomon. And there’s still more—a shelf full of Western classics (High Noon, Shane), a row of Charlie Chaplin silent movies (The Kid, Modern Times), the musicals (Camelot, The Pajama Game) and Academy Award winners. Friends and those who frequent the shop also suggest titles, which Mr. Santos later dutifully searches in the net.
The place is simply Heaven for film students and film enthusiasts, but Simon wants to encourage others to expose themselves to these cinematic gems as well.