May morning meditation

It’s nine in the morning on a Saturday. I look out the window, and from this room high up over the city, I can discern the geometry of the neighborhood. The streets in this district are laid out in a pattern slightly more elaborate than the basic grid, and in addition to the usual rectangular blocks of houses and buildings, there are also triangular lots and five-way crossroads.

From my vantage point, I can see people walking, small like ants, going down slowly along the streets and avenues named after dead people about whom most still-alive people don’t know anything about. I watch them for a few moments, and then I get impatient at their glacial pace. I get bored, and I get distracted. My attention shifts, involuntarily, to another shape moving down on another street. It’s moving with more speed, and its outline is a little larger—it’s a person mounted on a kind of vehicle. It gets closer and I see that the vehicle is a bicycle.

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‘Gusto Kita with All My Hypothalamus’: delirious with desire

A mesmerizing ode to finding beauty in a dreary city.

Poets, fictionists, and all kinds of storytellers have a fixation for the city, or at least the idea of the city as a place. They pour a lot of thought into fleshing out this concept, to shape this imaginary community for their characters and purposes. Perhaps they find it wonderful how chaotic crowds of people find a measure of order when they walk down the same streets, just as seemingly disparate elements of stories seek structure to form a narrative. Perhaps they appreciate the density of districts, which radiate the sense that there is always a story to be found just around the corner, down the alleys, inside the buildings. There is always a lingering desire to find exciting things buried behind the dull details of life.

Gusto Kita with All My Hypothalamus is a captivating expression of this urge. The film, a love letter to Manila’s Avenida, weaves smoothly through the streets and spaces of the district as it tells the stories of four men linked together only by their common admiration for a woman named Aileen, who is played by Iana Bernardez in a stunning debut. She is introduced in the glorious opening scene, walking in slow-motion on the streets, to the music of Ikaw Pa Rin, a song one could easily imagine blaring from those karaoke units peddled at Raon.

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