Sunday afternoons | Inquirer Opinion

Sunday afternoons

/ 05:04 AM May 03, 2024

My mother and I have always liked films. We had Sunday afternoons dedicated to movie marathons. We’d place a mattress at the center of the living room, build a fort of pillows, and lie on the bed facing the TV screen. My mother would comment on how the actors fit their characters, how the costumes perfectly matched the period it was in, how the story did not make sense, and how effective the director was in executing their vision. I would watch all the movies my mother recommended ranging from British series to Filipino cult classics.

Those Sunday afternoons were the only times I felt close to my mother, a few inches apart separated by a pillow in our fort. I’d look at my mother during teary moments in the movie and watch her cry silently. Years passed and those afternoon movies were not the only reason I saw her tears. I caught her crying silently on our balcony. I stared, not knowing how to comfort her at all. In hindsight, maybe I should have hugged her, but I only went to the living room and told my father, “Papa, Mama is crying on the balcony.” My father went to the kitchen while I turned back to the TV where a “Barbie” movie was playing. My father handed me a glass of water. “Give this to your Mama,” he said. I paused the DVD, went back to the balcony, and handed the water. I saw her trying to wipe her tears and sink into the shadows, maybe hoping that I didn’t see how red her eyes and nose were.

When my father eventually left home for another woman, we moved into my grandmother’s house. We brought almost everything, especially the red crate full of DVDs from our previous house. It contained movies like “Harry Potter,” “Peter Pan,” “Lion King,” and my mother’s favorite “Twilight” series. There was a small DVD player with a small monitor attached to it. My mother binge-watched our DVD collection throughout the night until she moved on to Korean dramas. She rarely went out of that room. Like Bella in “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” when Edward left, she withdrew into herself and her pain. I stood by the side watching. Everything else did not matter for her including me.

By high school, my relationship with my mother grew more distant. One time, I went home from school crying. Our teacher asked us to draw our dream house and the people we wanted to be in it. I was a mess. When I opened the bedroom door, my mother was watching “Princess Hours” on the small monitor. She stared blankly at me. I stood there crying hard, saying my teacher wanted us to draw our dream house. After I calmed down, my mother said, “Aah.” Then she went back to watching “Princess Hours.”


Years happened in between and we grew further apart. I left home multiple times and every time I went back, my mother would be in our bedroom or the living room watching a movie. She does not ask where I went but will say, “This movie is good, you should watch it.” Later, my grandmother told me that my mother cried all night waiting for me.

I began to understand more of her struggles as a woman. She had to solve all the problems my father left, and she had to hear the statements that maybe my father cheated because she was not a good wife.

I eventually left to go to college. I made excuses every break that I couldn’t go back. I saw my mother insisting less every time I declined. However, last December, my sister convinced me to go home. It was only me, my sister, and my mother at home. Something was different. The TV was transferred to the kitchen which made sense because my mother liked eating while watching movies. My mother also had more lines on her face and needed eyeglasses to watch TV, yet her appetite for films was still very much evident. She no longer watches DVDs and has become an avid watcher of anything on Netflix. She watches comedies, dramas, reality shows, and documentaries in any language as long as there are subtitles.It was a Sunday and we fought that morning because she wanted me to attend church. There was plenty of shouting that was only resolved when they went without me. The afternoon came, and we were in the kitchen eating fries while Eugene Domingo’s “Barber’s Tales” played on the TV.

As I watched Eugene’s character and all the women there protect each other from the men and society, I looked at my mother. She ate fries topped with cheese powder as she stared at the TV. She commented how Eugene Domingo was a stellar actress who has proven her capabilities in comedy and drama. She also commented on how she saw the other actors in other films and that they were also good. I nodded and offered insights from what I’d seen or heard about the film and the actors.


I sat there watching the movie unfold while eating fries. My mother was a few seats away from me but it was one of those Sunday afternoons where, maybe, we were closer than I thought.



Andi Mayari, 24, is a writing major student who thrives in being lost during night walks at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. As a writer from Mindanao, she aims to talk about her and her friends’ lives growing up.

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