In Tagalog, the word for movie or film is pelikula, which borrows from the Spanish pelicula; this leans, in turn, toward the Italian pellicula, typically meaning the place where people go to watch the latest movies. Before Netflix or Hulu, the projectionist leans out of his overheated second-floor booth, impatiently waiting for the runner to arrive from the next town, panting as he hands over the second reel. It gets there just in time for him to feed the film into the sprocket- lined rollers, in time to fend off jeers and insults peppered with whistles and boos from the restive audience. In the old days, this was also the way films were distributed in the Philippines. My father once told me as we drove through Pangasinan on the way to Manila that a town at one end of a bridge was named Carmen, and the one at the other end was named Rosales, after a Filipina actress considered the queen of cinema in the '40s and '50s. When not playing the sweetly pliable girlfriend, Carmen was cast either as flirt or unbending matriarch but was one of the highest paid actresses of her time. I was surprised to learn that in WWII, during the Japanese Occupation, she became a guerilla and sharpshooter, sometimes donning a fake mustache during forays— which proves once again that one should never underestimate a woman, in film or in real life. Like woman or girl, pellicula is also a diminutive— related to pellis, meaning a rough blanket of skin or hide scraped from an animal's body. It makes me think of summer evenings when neighbors might hang a dropcloth over their garage doors and bring out a cheap portable projector so everyone on the street can bring their kids and friends over for some al fresco viewing. Under a proscenium arch of stars or a canopy of trees, we can hide our faces in each other's arms, watching sky- scrapers topple like paper models as floodwaters pour through cities at the end of the world. We could graze cheeks tenderly, as the mutant hero writhes in agony when blades spring from between his adamantium-coated bones. He changes form: a kind of werewolf; a versipellis, meaning skin and turn.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) was recently appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia (2020-2022). She is Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Southern Illinois University Press, September 2020). She is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015; she also teaches classes at The Muse Writers’ Center in Norfolk. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.