How Watching Old Films Help Us Prepare For Our Future

by Eric Pena on June 19, 2008

I recently came across two old documentary films about the place of my birth. Watching these movies were like traveling back in time but never quite leaving from where I am.

70 years ago, those people were living their lives, unsure of what the future may bring. Those were people who have been released from the oppressive Spanish colonial rule and many are looking forward to better opportunities under the American colonial regime. The air smells of progress brought about by the new horseless carriages and new factories, imported chocolates and other American goodies. Philippine Independence was just around the corner. Smiles were everywhere. Still some go about their lives neither optimistic nor pessimistic, just unmindful of the bigger forest that provides some shade on their small weary lives.

We see American and Filipino soldiers doing their daily routine of marching on the wide grounds of Fort Santiago–unaware that many if not most of them will be dead within 5 years.

Yes, 70 years ago my dad was only 8 and my mom was 3. I can almost see them amongst the crowd of people walking down the cobbled streets or enjoying their rickety ride atop caretelas or tagging along with their parents inside old Spanish churches not understanding one bit what the priests were saying. Soon, they too will pass on their religious beliefs to their own children.

Today, my parents, like most people living during the time those movies were made, are dead. The two lovely women in Filipiniana dresses coming out of some shop and smiling for the camera, I’m almost sure are dead. So too is the narrator of the story. The movie remains as a recorded reminder that these were people who once lived and breathed to become part of the universe, albeit perhaps an insignificant one when measured in cosmological time. It’s a movie made for people yet unborn who may one day watch in awe and wonder how the world was very much different then but the people’s hopes, dreams, aspirations and fears are about the same.

In 2078, 70 years from now, most of the people living today will be dead… unless God or science has other plans. Religion tells us we cannot mess with God’s creation and dying is part of His plan so we can be with Him and all our dead friends and relatives in the afterlife. Science believes this is our only life and if we can help it, no one has to die from sickness and old age. But whatever beliefs you have, one thing is for certain, nobody wants to die just yet… but are resigned to the fact that nothing lasts forever.

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