Inside Sine Pop is a meeting of the old world and modern technology. Photo by Tammy David

IN PHOTOS: This Cubao postwar home was brilliantly transformed into a boutique cinema

Like the movies it will show, the space itself of Sine Pop is a visual dream. 
ANCX Staff / Photos by TAMMY DAVID | Jan 30 2021

Your stock image of busy, noisy Cubao disappears once you enter this oasis in St. Mary Street. It’s akin to stepping into a Zen garden, at the heart of which is a 1940s home surrounded by a bamboo “forest.” But Sine Pop, as its name says, is actually a small movie house—and before you get to the microcinema itself, from the entrance, there may be a few other visual surprises that will pop at you along the way. 

Sine Pop is located along St. Mary Street in Cubao. Photo by Tammy David
A bamboo forest to enjoy a zen moment. Photo by Tammy David
Mary at St. Mary Street. A statue of the Blessed Virgin adds to the overall serene atmosphere. Photo by Tammy David

The boutique cinema features a 48-seater theater, a seven-meter screen, and a 7.1 surround sound system. The design is a collaboration between its media-shy owner and the young architect Justin Guiab. 

This area was intended to become a cafe. A panoramic glass window offers a view of the bamboo trees outside. Photo by Tammy David.
A painting by Mark Andy Garcia holds court in one of the rooms. Photo by Tammy David.
The post war home was originally built in 1948 by an Ilocano engineer, Sotero Pasion Eugenio. Photos by Tammy David.

“We were not going for a particular look. Rather, it was an attempt to build something with a sense of humility and honesty,” Guiab wrote in an article recently. “We did not desire to create a striking facade. Instead we hid the cinema behind the old house and a bamboo ‘forest.’ We did not want it to stand out. We wanted it to disappear.” 

“We did not desire to create a striking facade. Instead we hid the cinema behind the old house and a bamboo ‘forest,’" says architect Justin Guiab. Photos by Tammy David
The 48-seater microcinema is equipped with a seven-meter screen and 7.1 surround sound system. Photo by Tammy David
Sine Pop is an avenue for local filmmakers to showcase their masterpieces, but it can also be a venue for foreign classics. Photo by Tammy David
The owner and Guiab decided to preserve the old structure and design a whole experience around it. Photo by Tammy David
Visual treats greet the visitor at every turn. Photos by Tammy David

The original idea was to tear down the old house—built in 1948 by an Ilocano engineer by the name of Sotero Pasion Eugenio—and construct an entirely new space. The cost, however, proved a little daunting. Good thing budget constraints led to better results: owner and Guiab decided to preserve the old structure and design a whole experience around it. A welcome outcome for the son of the original owner. “My family lived in this property for almost 70 years (until 2017), during which we tried to preserve its original beauty, as it was built by my parents,” he wrote on Sine Pop’s Facebook page. “I have many wonderful and tender memories living there. I’m happy to see that it has been restored beautifully.”

One has to pass through the old house before arriving at the cinema. Photo by Tammy David.
The panoramic windows provide drama to the space. Photo by Tammy David.

Guiab recently told ANCX the final design for Sine Pop was inspired by his visit to the famed Berghain club in Berlin where the experience was like a maze, and where surprises lurk at different turns. We won’t spoil the ride for you by going into detail. Suffice it to say that the pictures you see here form a very interesting puzzle you’ll only really get to solve when you visit the place. 

Sine Pop! is currently screening the acclaimed Lav Diaz movie, "Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan." Following pandemic protocols, the cinema only accepts up to six visitors at a time, so reservations have to be made, via Sine Pop’s Facebook page.


Photographs by Tammy David