A Tribute To Eddie Romero


 June 15-21 Edition

Tanging Yaman 
Deo J. Fajardo Jr.
Eddie Romero 
Lav Diaz 
Raymond Red 

Laurice Guillen's family drama Tanging Yaman is special to me. Gloria Romero's character made me cry! She was so much like my grandmother who raised me when my parents died. So the film strikes a resonant chord within me, even if I never had any brothers or sisters.

My favorite character is Boyet (Marvin Agustin), who looks like Huggybear with the same streak of independence and sweetness. He hugs his mom Celine (Hilda Koronel) as he comes home to Pampanga from the city where he's a working student. "Oh, I'm dirty," protest Celine. Boyet says he likes the smell: tortang talong (eggplant omelette) and sinigang na kanduli (local fish stew)

Boyet's rich uncle Art (Edu Manzano) gives him a job. His father Danny (Johnny Delgado) warns him about Art. The two brothers hate each other. Boyet learns that Danny had squandered his share of the inheritance. Still, Danny was their father's favorite even if Art is more successful. And Art never forgave him for that. Boyet doesn't understand why he should be involved with events that happened long ago. Art looks down on Danny as the black sheep and a failure, ending up as a mere tricycle driver.

But Art is a bigger jerk. When he heard that his son Rommel (Jericho Rosales) dropped out of medical school, he confronts him.

"I can't even stand being in hospitals," says Rommel, "and you want me to spend the rest of my life in one?"

"Every time I ask, you tell me everything's okay!" Art shot back.

"Because you only hear what you want to hear," says Rommel.

Art tells him he's an ungrateful, spoiled brat. "You've gotten used to having everything you want!"

"No, Dad," says Rommel. "It's always you has the final word. We never had any freedom."

Art hit him. "Get out of my house!"

Rommel leaves, driving through the storm, tears blinding him. Suddenly, he lost control. The car skidded down the embankment. Rommel is trapped as the car sinks to freezing waters below.

The news shocked the entire family

Art is crying as he and Danny stand on the shore. "Is this God's way of telling me that I was wrong?"


"Mother always tells us that God punishes those he love," says Danny. "It's hard to explain. But I understand. I still feel it even after all these years."

I'm glad they published the screenplay. It's sort of nice to know I'm not the only one who writes Tagalog dialogues with the script and slug lines in English.

Tanging Yaman is timeless, with its poignant theme written by Fr. Manoling Francisco and performed by Carol Banawa, her hauntingly beautiful voice as unforgettable as this cinematic treasure



On June 3, 2013, I was in National Bookstore in Ayala Cebu. I browsed the Tanging Yaman screenplay, a book by Deo Fajarado Jr., and another one on Filipino filmmakers which include Eddie Romero, Lav Diaz and Raymond Red. (See also Huggybear's tribute to Marilou Diaz Abaya, Mario O'Hara and Celso Ad Castillo in "A Celebration of Filipino Movies." Watch the films of Cinemalaya and Cinema One Originals. Watch Filipino FULL MOVIES here on 2Rivers)


Action director Deo Fajardo Jr., has a book about getting into showbiz. I went straight to the chapter about how to be a script writer. As far as the format goes, I think I'm on the right track. His advice was to show your script to producers who, he says, are always looking for materials. I already did that. I've sent my stories to Star Cinema and GMA Films but they never even bothered to reply (so much for attracting new blood).

Deo's proteges are some of the biggest action stars in the country: Robin Padilla, Raymart Santiago, Michael Rivero and Rudy Fernandez. I skipped the one about how to be a make-up artist (Watch his full movies Mga Batang Riles and Carnap King here on 2Rivers)







Eddie Romero's movies "are delivered in an utterly simple style - minimalist, but never empty," goes the citation for the National Artist Award conferred in 2003. His films are "always calculated, precise and functional, but never predictable." Writing a tribute to the venerable film icon under the trees of Cebu's I.T. Park, I saw that my piece is getting bigger and longer. So I let the rhythm move me, and soon I was conceiving a full magazine article. It will be more than an elegy to a revered filmmaking icon, who died last May 28th. My story will celebrate both the man and his movies. I'll send it for publication and keep my fingers crossed.

In the meantime, you can now watch, IN FULL, Romero's classics movies Kamakalawa and Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Na Kayo Ngayon here on 2Rivers








The unconventional filmmaker Lav Diaz belongs to the seemingly dying breed of men with independent minds. I have great respect for people like him, and they're my favorite endangered species. With Batang West Side, he (by habit) broke tradition and set the record for the longest Filipino movie ever made: a whopping five solid hours and more. With their vivid, lingering scenes, his films defy our ingrained machine-gun MTV of images. Our Establisment-obsessed culture needs radical visionaries, people like Lav Diaz, who'd rock the boat and damn the torpedoes


Lav Diaz's breakthrough movie Batang West Side (West Side Kid), hailed by Variety as a masterpiece, won as the Best Asian Feature in the Singapore Asian Film Festival. 

I'm not surprised that he broke his own record with Melancholia, a film about summary executions that runs for a staggering eight hours - and winner of the Orrizonti Grand Prize in the 2008 Venice Film Festival. Lav Diaz, goes the Venice citation, is the "Ideological Father of the New Philippine Cinema." 


Lav's Kagadanan Sa Banwaan Ning Mga Engkanto (Death in the Land of Encantos) luxuriates in long shot and extended scenes, "all in favor of realism," writes Bibsy. "Cinema verite at its most acute"

The movie scene that moved him most is from Matimbang Ang Dugo Sa Tubig (Blood Is Thicker Than Water), an early film of the late Fernando Poe Jr. In the confusion during the Japanese invasion, a boy runs after a truck full of refugees, wanting to get in. But he gets left behind, alone in the war. It was, says Diaz, "so sad and horifying."



My admiration for Raymond Red is heightened with a sense of identifying with his struggle for creative freedom. I know how de-motivating it is when the integrity of your work is violated by other people. Small meddling minds thwarted his vision for his earlier films, Bayani and Sakay. So he swore to do films his own way, with his own money. Years passed, away from the camera, and some people are beginning to wonder what happened to him. All of a sudden, he came out of nowhere with his comeback film, Anino. Then he stunned the world by making history as the first Filipino to win the Cannes Palme d'Or


His triumph is a few steps for his career, says Carballo, and hundreds of steps for the Filipino. Red was still in school when his first film, Ang Magpakailanman (The Eternity) won the grand prize in the student category of the Experimental Cinema of the Philippine. Even before he was 21, has built a solid reputation and an impressive track record of high quality films 

The great British film critic Tony Rayns was impressed, comparing him to Orson Welles. 


Red's Himpapawid, his first full length feature for almost a decade, was showered with accolades. The protagonist (Raul Arellano), driven by desperate poverty, hijacks a plane. He then jumps off. This high-altitude drama goes deeper than the poverty that drove him to desperation, but it really soars up there with all the great modern-day film classics



Jonathan Aquino's Journal

June 1, 2013 Saturday 
Lahug City, Cebu 

One of my role models is Richard Feynman, the maverick Nobel-winning physicist. I began reading today Perfectly Reasonable Deviations From The Beaten Track, a collection of his letters. I'm going to craft a timeless story about him.

I was surprised that such a universally admired genius also had detractors, though mostly these are backstabbing colleagues. So I got to thinking: Is there anybody without critics? I can look anyone straight in the eye and say I've done him no harm; I don't have enemies. Still, I've had my share of self-righteous judgement from hypocrites. 

I think most people have been criticized at some point, justified or not. I find it sad that there will always be those who will attack everybody else just for the hell of it, like the scorpion who stung the frog carrying him to the other side of the river 

It's their nature

I did some groceries from Robinson's Fuente Osmeña Circle before going to my barber downtown around noon. I used up the remaining balance in the BDO debit card from my last company. Since I need to stock up and I don't have a can opener, I got some easy-open San Marino corned tuna. I like the taste. It's now one of my favorites 

I'm almost finished with the revisions on my screenplay that the director and I had discussed. I added a new scene that immediately gave the story even more depth. 

It's actually my reworking of my short story "They Call Him Legion." That was my very first published fiction, appearing on December 2004 in Philippine Graphic and giving me my first nomination. It was inspired by Al Pacino's monologue scene in The Devil's Advocate .


The other source of inspiration is a chapter from The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It was the Devil scene with Ivan Karmazov, who is part of "My Most Unforgettable Literary Characters." It's one of my earliest magazine articles, published in Philippine Panorama way back in January 2005 

The story happens in a dark, empty church. Here's an excerpt: 

"An old man came in slowly. His walk was not the stride of someone with a purpose nor was it the shuffle of a restless stroll. He came slowly up the aisle. There was nothing remarkable about him: an ordinary, close-cropped hair, a shabby overcoat, old black trousers that has become gray with age. His shoes weren't polished. It reminded me of my cousin who used to visit me when he was in the city - a bit awkward, self-conscious. The man was not someone you'd notice in the crowd." 


Comments

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Huggybear said…
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“...seemingly dying breed of men with independent minds..."

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