In 1966 the president of CocoLoco Studios broke the news to us in English: "As the Americanos say, it is time to listen to the music. Your movies are shit." He unrolled a poster for The Squid Children of Cebu, our latest picture for CocoLoco. Our names were written in drippy, bloody letters. "A Checkers Rosario Film" was printed above the title, and my credit was at the bottom. "Reva Gogo," it read, "as the Squid Mother."
In its first week in release Squid Children played in just one theater in all of Manila; it was the midnight show at the La Luna. "A place for peasants and their whores," the president said, tearing the poster in half, "and is it true they use a bed sheet for a screen?" Then, speaking in Tagalog, he fired us.
From CocoLoco we walked toward home, and when we passed The Oasis, one of the English-only movie theaters that had been sprouting up all over Manila, Checkers threw a stone at Doris Day's face. Send Me No Flowers was playing, and above the box office Doris Day and Rock Hudson traded sexy glances and knowing smiles. "Their fault!" he said, and I understood what he meant. Imported Hollywood romance was what Manila moviegoers were paying to see, and Checkers's low-budget horror could no longer compete. "All that overacting, that corny shit!" But here was the truth: those were the movies I longed for Checkers to make, where men fall in love with women and stay there, and tearful partings are only preludes to tearful reunions. Real life—that's what I wanted to play, but my only roles were Bat-Winged Pygmy Queen, Werewolf Girl, Two-Headed Bride of Two-Headed Dracula, Squid Mother—all those monstrous girls that Checkers dreamed up just for me.