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Binge-Watching: Was It Me Time or Lost Time?

It’s been almost three weeks since I’ve written my last blog. Three weeks and I haven’t written a single blog since then. I’m shaking my head here. For a writer, that is something pathetic, I admit.

What happened to me? Where did the last three weeks go?

Okay, I’m going to make a confession. I’m giving a heavy sigh and say, I’ve been binge-watching on NetflixiFlix and YouTube.

But first, what is binge-watching? It is also called marathon viewing, a practice of watching a series of movies or TV shows for a span of time.

My first experience of marathon viewing (I’m going to use this term rather than binge-watching because that was the accepted term back then.) was back in 1982 during the annual Metro Manila Film Festival. My cousins and I watched “Himala“, “Ang Panday, Ikatlong Yugto“, and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” in that particular order (if my memory serves me right).

My cousins complained of headache while going home after watching three movies in a single day and I told them I didn’t have any headache at all. In fact, I enjoyed it and was looking forward to watch “Haplos” (of course, I lost the battle there, so off we went home).

But my viewing experience changed when we got a Betamax video player in the house during the ’80s.

You see, I seldom go to a movie theater to watch a film. Thanks to the old Betamax, I was able to appreciate videos. What attracted me to watching videos is the fact that I could watch it on my own time, have the ability to rewind or move it fast forward, and can watch it alone without those talkative house mates beside you.

We used to go to a video rental shop (there was no Video City then) and even requested the attendant to advice us of new releases or reserve these tapes for us when we return. Since then, most of the films I’ve watched were on videos.

Technology and time have changed. Betamax became VHS during the ’90s. It was then that I graduated college and my mom bought me a TV set as one of her gifts.

I started working and got myself my own VCR Player a few years later. I got membership on Video City and my video marathon viewing continued. Although I still find myself going to the movies or watch TV series, these activities became lesser as I enjoy videos more and more. Not only I could select the titles I want to watch, I can decide what time to watch it — it was a choice between weeknights or weekends.

A Video City attendant even took notice of the VHS tapes I rented one Friday evening: six Julia Roberts films.

Then came the VCD and DVD formats. That was the time I started wishing to watch even just the first season of the TV shows I’ve missed. So I started collecting Season 1 of almost all TV shows I wanted to watch (from Friends to Two and a Half Men to How I Met Your Mother with some Grey’s Anatomy, Heroes, Nikita, and Burn Notice in between and many more).

Then, YouTube came and video sharing and streaming sites followed. Video on the Internet has changed the way people see and utilize videos.

Then, Netflix defined on demand viewing and people started to love the idea. Not only that, downloading sites have paved way to acquire these videos easily. Thanks for my friend’s 1TB disk space and a lot of TV series and movies could be stored in an external drive, I was able to binge-watch How to Get Away With Murder Season 1.

Now back to my question, what happened during the past three weeks? Well, I’ve been watching videos on YouTube, Netflix, and iFlix. I couldn’t help but follow through the updates on talk shows I couldn’t watch on cable TV. I don’t watch TV anymore because I know I could select the bits and snippets of them on YouTube from the TV networks’ YouTube channel.

I was able to follow the journey of 4th Impact on the X Factor UK, followed the journey of La Porsha Renae on American Idol Season 15, and I’m excited to know who will win Asia’s Next Top Model Cycle 4. And in between those updates, I get to know what issues were tackled on The View, on Today, on Good Morning America, on Ellen, on Wendy Williams Show, and on Steve Harvey shows. And also, I got to see cute kids on The Little Big Shots. And once in a while I get to view documentaries, top tens, and other videos thrown in between.

I could watch old films and TV shows on Netflix and iFlix, too. And I’m enjoying it.

And I must admit, it took a big chunk of my time watching those videos that I was not writing anymore. Now, that’s serious. I was just looking for videos related to the novel I’m writing that I got hooked on watching other related videos. Then another video, then another one… until I collected more than 5 short crime documentaries. I’d reason out that was research. But the other part of my brain say, nope. That’s how my recent binge-watching started.

I know I have to get back to writing. And this blog that you’re reading is already a sign that I’m back.

From Caduceus to Silver Linings Playbook

From Caduceus to Silver Linings Playbook

When I was a kid, I dreamed that I would become a doctor someday — wearing a white uniform, a nameplate with a Caduceus insignia, and a stethoscope hanging on my shoulder. But something changed that and shifted my attention to creative writing.

Yes, I was bitten by the writing bug on my graduation year. A classmate couldn’t believe that I was reading On Writing Well by William Zinsser instead of our Notes on Microbiology inside the UST Main Library, Humanities Section. However, it took years before the great paradigm shift happened.

While managing a small clinic in Makati, I attended a Creative Writing workshop. At that time, a story which I temporarily titled Caduceus brewed in my mind. It was a story based on the medical profession, just like the TV series St. Elsewhere, ER, and Chicago Hope. The story just stayed inside my head until a year later when I joined a script writing workshop sponsored by the Film Development Foundation of the Philippines (FDFPI).

To graduate in the workshop, everyone had to write a screenplay. So Caduceus became Sa Likod ng Puting Uniporme. After a few feedback from my mentor, Nestor U. Torre, I decided to enter the script in a screenwriting competition that same year. Fortunately, it became Finalist/Honorable Mention and got to meet the late National Artist and film director Eddie Romero. But Sa Likod ng Puting Uniporme never became a film.

Fast forward to the present. Recently, I received a writing assignment that required me to watch Silver Linings Playbook and to write a movie review cum term paper in Psychiatric Nursing. I was thankful that I have a background on the medical sciences. The information came in handy.

I may not be practicing my professions but I am proud of my classmates and friends who made it there. I just hope that they are also proud of me in my chosen field. The admiration is just mutual.