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.
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.
“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.”
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.”
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. https://www.facebook.com/sinepopup
Photographs by Tammy David