When Spider-Man: No Way Home hit cinema screens and took in close to $2 billion worldwide in box office, most Filipinos fixated on the scene where Ned visits his Fil-Am lola, and two versions of Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield and Tobey McGuire) arrive, messing up the sala.
Coming out of her bedroom in a duster, Ned’s Lola (actress Mary Rivera) notices Garfield hanging from the ceiling and chides her apo: “Ned, sabihin mo diyan sa mamang iyan na alisin yung agiw sa sulok, ha!” (Ned, tell that man to remove the cobweb from that corner!)
Later, she lays into Ned after the two webslingers upset her kitchen area: “Ikaw ha, nagkalat ka na naman. Linisin mo lahat ng mga basura mo dito. At ikaw naman, alam mo naman na gusto ko na itong bahay natin maayos pero tingnan mo, dumi dito, dumi doon!” (You! You made a mess again. Clean up all your garbage here. And you, you know I want our house to be neat but look — dirt here, dirt there!) Her un-subtitled Tagalog was one of those big-grin moments for Filipinos, seeing themselves onscreen. And her sala is amazing — a richly detailed tableau overstuffed with familiar, sometimes kitschy décor. But it’s all presented with warmth, authenticity, and most importantly, respect.
Now that the movie is available for streaming and purchase — not flashing by on the big screen — let’s take a closer look at the treasure trove of cultural detail it contains, embedded like a garden of Pinoy Easter eggs.
1. Carabao and rural paintings: A classic Fil-Am home touch;
2. Capiz lamps: They’re everywhere in this sala, from Tiffany style to flower lamps;
3. Rice cooker: No Pinoy kitchen would be without one;
4. Dining room chandeliers: Yes, chandeliers belong everywhere, even in Lola’s comfy, modest dining room;
5. Big wooden spoon and fork: Someone got pasalubong from Kultura Filipino (or Baguio);
6. MJ about to fling pan de sal: To get Garfield Spidey to prove he’s real, MJ grabs a bread roll from the dining table and tosses it at him to see if he’ll catch it. She does this at least three times (Hoy! Waste of pan de sal);
7. Iconic cross above vintage family photo: Religious icons are everywhere in this sala, along with family photos. Relate ka ba?
8. “Weapons of Moroland” display: Another classic pop-cultural icon most Filipinos have/had on the family walls growing up. It answers the question: “How Filipino are you?”;
9. Wooden lovebirds: Why? They’re cute! They’re carved out of wood! They’re kissing!
10. Sewing Machine: Whose Pinoy auntie doesn’t have a Singer sewing machine tucked in a back alcove, ready to roll?
11. Lola's duster: No lola would investigate a ruckus without wearing her favorite duster;
12. Plastic-wrapped furniture: Because furniture gets dirty.
13. Sto. Nino wall statue and artificial flowers: As Garfield Spidey scurries to remove cobwebs from the ceiling, we spot a Sto. Niño statue set on the wall, and one of several bouquets of fake flowers. Admit it, this could actually be your auntie or Lola’s sala in the States.