The dreamy mood of Mike de Leon’s ‘Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising’

If you’re into Filipino movies, you have probably heard of Mike de Leon, a film director who re-defined Filipino movie making which such films as Itim, Kakabakaba Ka Ba? and Sister Stella L. Although Itim and Kakabakaba Ka Ba? will always be my favorites among his work, Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising left a distinct impression on me. Not because of the story — I’m not really a fan of love stories — but because of the mood.

Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising, starring Christopher de Leon and Hilda Koronel, was shot in Baguio City. It’s a dreamy place alright with its pine trees and foggy mornings and evenings, and a perfect backdrop for romance. But at the time the film came out, there were rumors that Mike de Leon used a special camera filter to enhance even more the dreamy appearance of the film. The scenes, especially those shot outdoors, all had that fuzzy, glowing appearance that gave the feeling that everything was taking place in a dream. My words cannot give justification but that’s about as best as I can describe it.

I have been obsessed with the technique since. When I started using an analog SLR camera in the 1990s, there was one afternoon when I used my brother’s filters (without his knowledge hehehe) and took photos of then one-year-old Alex playing with a blanket on a mattress on the living room floor. After the film was processed, it had that exact fuzzy, dreamy effect that I wanted.

The idea, of course, is to buy the same kind of filter for my DSLR. I did wonder though if it was possible to create the same effect with the use of digital editing tools like Adobe Photoshop.

Then, I read this and voila! bird of paradise flower bud

It was exactly what I wanted. I wouldn’t have discovered it on my own because all I really use Photoshop and GIMP for is to crop and resize photos.

Click on the photos above to view them in large format.


  1. says

    Oh, Connie… nahihiya akong sabihin – pero alam mo – I played a bit role in that movie, Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising. There were scenes shot in UP Baguio and some students were tapped to play bit roles, at napasali ako. Doon ako sa Zoology class scene. hehehe.

    Many critics say, that Kung Mangarap is a movie where Hilda Koronel’s beauty was at its shiningest. Thanks to her natural beauty, and Mike De Leon’s magical camera and cinematography of course. I wonder why he doesn’t make movies anymore.

    BTW, I just got back from Baguio. Spent 4 days – I attended a PCIJ seminar. :)

    • says

      I don’t remember if I watched the movie in its entirety but I recall seeing some scenes on afternoon TV. One of my tita’s motivations for going to a trip to sagada was to see the chapel that was shown in the movie. Magical daw.

      • Chris says

        Oh and also…right after you gaussian blur the image,you can use the history brush to touch up parts of it that you feel should still come out sharp. This is helpful usually for photos of people, you can get the dreamy effect but keep the eyes, hair, and other aspects nice and focused, with the rest of the image slightly blurry…

  2. says

    i love kung mangarap ka’t magising. it’s probably my favorite pinoy movie of all time. umabot na nga yung obsession ko sa pelikulang ito sa pagbili ng DVD sa kabayan central. umorder ako at ang pinadala nila sa akin ay parang kopya na galing sa tape. maraming mga cut na eksena at humihinto midway yung pelikula. pero pinatulan ko pa rin panoorin.

    tulad mo, dahil din sa mood. yung baguio at sagada nung 1970’s was really nice and it shows in the film. galing din ng acting to christopher de leon at hilda koronel na sinabayan ng comedy ni buboy at danny javier. pati nga si chuchi, magaling ang acting dito.

    • JB, a Hilda Koronel fan says

      I saw a young Hilda Koronel in person way back in 1984 in Makati Commercial Center (there wasn’t Ayala Center yet at that time). She wore no make-up and glamorous clothes. But my jaw dropped and I wondered: Did an angel descend on Philippine soil? What a shining, exquisite, drop-dead natural beauty!!! Then I realized everyone who saw her walking on the side street to Rustan’s had to literally stop and look again and again, mesmerized by her mere presence. That brief “encounter” led me to watch more of Hilda Koronel’s movies, including Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising. Indeed, Mike De Leon gave Hilda Koronel the best camera angles to highlight her mesmerizing natural beauty. Does anybody remember that scene where Hilda slowly walked into the auditorium towards the group of Christopher De Leon, Bibeth Orteza, Buboy Garovillo and Danny Javier while on rehearsal with the piano? Did you notice how they were suddenly disarmed and mesmerized by her mere presence? Exactly what happened to me in 1984 seeing Hilda in person!

      To this day, this movie has always been a personal favorite. I am still waiting and hoping for it to be reborn into digital format and digitally remastered, just like old Hollywood movies are reborn.

    • R says

      Napanood namin sya sa cinema one kahapon ng 2:00am.kami ng mrs.ko.
      Ang ganda pala.Madami akong naalala nung kabataan ko .

      • writer says

        am curious also about this movie: kung mangarap ka’t magising- who wins here ? is it hilda or christopher?
        i definitely want to have this movie analyzed.. and the movie theme is quite a talk so how do you wrap this around the context of this melodramatic or a comical ? story how do you conclude it!

  3. says

    Wow, Rhodora. Di mo naman sinabi, showbiz ka pala. :) And I also think it’s a pity that Mike de Leon doesn’t direct nor produce anymore. I really loved his films.

    PCIJ seminar??

  4. says

    Em, I don’t remember the entire movie either — just snapshots inside my head now.

    Chris, vaseline? hahahaha Thanks for the history brush tip. Sam is so much better with Adobe — she edited Speedy’s picture para maging slim hehehehe

  5. says

    what handful photo editing tip. I’ll go check the link at Dooce’s and then, maybe, dapat matuto na talaga ako ng Photoshop and GIMP. heehee. am still using my trustee old MS Photodraw to resize photos for the web. but then, they appeared too flat and somewhat distorted. :(

  6. says

    feng, GIMP is NOT Adobe (yet) but it’s pretty good. If Photoshop didn’t come free with my MacBook Pro, I’d still be using GIMP and not feel I’m missing much.

    Em, Picnik? May link ka?

  7. says

    hi connie,

    how can i get a copy of your dvd of Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising? i look like Christopher in this movie u might want to know. please help