Then we took the long drive to Baguio and stopped at a roadside bistro to split a beer. That got Bong talking about his hard life in the military and the relief he felt when he got out of it. Then he told me that, before starting his new career as a driver, he had been a porn star.
I haven’t seen many porn films, but my reaction to them is the same as Nabokov’s reaction to written porn. They are rather boring, just a dismal succession of scenes of copulation, barely distinguishable and hardly erotic. Even Andy Warhol’s ballyhooed Blue Movie – he had christened it with the F word – had left me decidedly cold. If somebody made a porn film half as interesting as Nabokov’s Lolita, I would like to see it. I wanted to know from Bong if Filipino porn was any different.
“You are asking about the story in those films?” Bong replied. “Yes, they had a story line, but it was usually a very simple one. The Director would have a few notes on a sheet, but they didn’t seem to care much about those. They would change things at the drop of a hat.”
He added, “The whole focus was on action. They would give us a few cues, but they wanted us, the actors, to heat up the action. We were mostly old hands, we knew what to do. Sometimes they would tell us to do something a little differently, and we would do it the best way we could.”
“Were you comfortable doing it?”
“Never. I did it, but I never really liked it. There are things you do privately, in your bedroom. But here I was doing it in front of ten others. I felt horribly ashamed. The money was okay, and I had to get used to it. But I was never comfortable.”
Bong felt reminiscent. “I came from a poor family. We had two tiny rooms and a kitchen, no bathroom. At night when dad and mom made love, my brother and I could hear everything. We were embarrassed. But at least it was in another room. Now I had to do it in front of a camera. Often one of the guys was within touching distance as I was doing it. It was very awkward.”
“But you did it for three years?”
“I kept hoping I would get a chance in other films. I talked to a lot of people, I begged the directors. It never worked. I never got a bit role in those fancy movies.”
“What made you leave?”
“I had made three films with the same director. And the same girl. She knew how to get me going. One time it was late and she came from the studio to my place. We ate, we drank. Though we had made love every which way for two hours in the studio, we again started on each other. It was incredible. We came again and again. It was a wonderful thing. It had never been like that in the studio, not with her, not with anybody.
“I made up my mind the next week. My life was being screwed up in that studio. I didn’t want to spoil that important part of my life. I left and took up the job of a driver with a producer.”
We took the last sip of our beer and returned to the car.
As Bong drove, I pondered on his quandary. His narrative was as good as Nabokov’s.