This groundbreaking film collaboration will redefine action-comedy in Philippine cinema.
PULP Studios proudly announces the upcoming release of its latest cinematic venture, Ma’am Chief: Shakedown in Seoul. This groundbreaking action-comedy film is a significant collaboration between the Philippines and South Korea. It’s set to hit Philippine cinemas nationwide on November 15, 2023.
The film features an ensemble cast led by Melai Cantiveros-Francisco. The comedienne-TV host is joined by Alora Sasam, Bernadette Allyson Estrada, Dustine Mayores, Enzo Almario, Jennica Garcia, Karylle Tatlonghari, Manel Sevidal, Pepe Herrera, Sela Guia, and more. Adding to the excitement, the film features special cameos by K-Drama and K-Pop stars such as Do Ji Han, Lee Seunggi, Rolling Quartz, and Yuju.
PULP COO, Happee Sy-Go, the visionary behind this original creation, masterfully blended humor with suspense, setting Ma’am Chief: Shakedown in Seoul on a trajectory to become a standout in Philippine cinema.
Speaking about the film, Happee Sy-Go expressed, “Working on ‘Ma’am Chief: Shakedown in Seoul’ has been an exhilarating journey. The fusion of Filipino and Korean cultures in this film is something truly special. I’m thrilled about how it turned out and am very eager to share this unique cinematic experience with the public. I genuinely hope audiences will embrace the film with as much love and enthusiasm as we poured into creating it.”
The film follows a courageous policewoman on a secret mission to South Korea, where she disguises herself as a tour guide to apprehend a dangerous fugitive. Along the way, she encounters a myriad of characters, each adding to the film’s adventure and humor.
The film promises a riveting fusion of genres. It’s sure to keep audiences on the edge of their seats while delivering heartwarming moments and laughter.
PULP Studios has given audiences a sneak peek into the making of this much-anticipated film with a behind-the-scenes teaser shot during their South Korea filming. This teaser provides a glimpse into the dedication and hard work the team invested in bringing this cinematic gem to life. The unveiling of the first poster, featuring Melai Cantiveros-Francisco, further heightened fans’ anticipation. To introduce the film’s talented cast, PULP Studios also released an initial batch of cast featurettes, offering viewers insights into the characters they will bring to life on the big screen.
As excitement continues to build, PULP Studios unveiled the official trailer, teasing audiences with snippets of the action, comedy, and star-studded performances that await them. With every reveal, excitement for the movie has surged, solidifying its place as a must-see film of the year.
Save the date, as Ma’am Chief: Shakedown in Seoul premieres in Philippine cinemas nationwide on November 15, 2023.
Follow PULP Studios on social media for more updates and exclusive content about the movie.
In an era where finding a reliable, dedicated, and responsible kasambahay has become an increasingly complex task, we are reminded of the invaluable role they play in our lives. They are the quiet yet powerful force that enables us to navigate our busy routines and create cherished moments with our loved ones.
Among those who deeply understand the significance of this relationship is Luis Manzano, a multi-talented host, actor, and a prominent figure in the Philippine entertainment industry. Widely celebrated for his charismatic presence and kind-hearted nature, Luis’ genuine compassion extends beyond the screen.
This compassion is prominently showcased in his role as the host of a popular game show, where he extends a helping hand to contestants and provides support to those who may be facing challenges. This profound understanding of care and support is not limited to the world of showbiz for Luis, it’s a value he holds dear in his personal life, exemplified by his enduring bond with his dedicated long-time nanny, Yaya Cindy. She has been an integral part of Luis’ life for 27 years, providing unwavering care and support since he was just 15 years old. Her duties range from preparing his clothes to cooking his meals and favorite food as well as to attending to his other needs, a testament to how much a kasambahay can help make an individual’s life easier and smoother.
Yaya Cindy, who hails from Iloilo City, has a family and a child who live in Batangas. She sees Luis as more than an employer. He’s a caring, generous individual who consistently goes the extra mile. When her brother needed a critical operation, Luis immediately stepped in, covering the expenses without asking for anything in return. This act of kindness strengthened their bond. Instances like this showcase how Luis views Yaya Cindy not only as an employee but also as a valued member of his extended family. Their open communication and shared sense of humor create a warm, familial dynamic in their working relationship.
For nearly three decades, she has diligently sent financial support through Palawan Express Pera Padala and now with PalawanPay. Her remittance covers providing for her family’s essential needs, allowances, and her child’s education. She was able to achieve her dreams when she was able to purchase their own home. Her years of employment were fruitful and valuable not just for her but also for Luis.
In a heartwarming exchange of gratitude, Yaya Cindy extends her heartfelt wishes to Luis and his family, with special thoughts for Peanut, Luis’ cherished daughter. Yaya Cindy fondly describes Luis as, “Si Lucky ay napakabuting tao, maalaga at napakamatulungin” (Lucky is a very kind-hearted, caring, and very helpful person). In turn, Luis responds with, “I want you to have all the best in life, ‘Gusto ko maging masaya ka every day, sa bawat tulog at paggising mo masaya ka” (I want you to be happy every day, every time you sleep or wake up, you are happy).
Their journey is not just a narrative of an exceptional kasambahay, but also a reflection of an employer who values and treats his nanny as an integral part of the family. This story is one of dedication, trustworthiness, and genuine care, showcasing the profound impact a household helper can have on an individual’s life.
In the spirit of honoring outstanding kasambahays, helpers, caretakers, and drivers, JCI Senate Philippines together with the Palawan Group of Companies extend an invitation to them to participate, and/or to employers to nominate their household helpers for the Kasambahay Kasambuhay Pilipinas Awards 2023. Both organizations’ shared vision and passion led to the creation of this award which recognizes the invaluable contributions of beloved kasambahays and commends their hard work, dedication, and integrity. With the unwavering support of JCI Senate Philippines and Palawan Pawnshop Group, the award continues to flourish in its 8th year.
The Kasambahay Kasambuhay Awards has played a pivotal role in transforming the lives of 65 past awardees, enabling them to improve their circumstances and pursue their dreams. This includes sending family members to school, building homes, reuniting with relatives in the province after years apart, and even establishing their own businesses. These awards continue to serve as an ongoing source of inspiration for Kasambahays, encouraging them to maintain their exemplary performance and serve with love and genuine concern in their households.
Animated film Iti Mapukpukaw made history as it brought home the Balanghai trophy for Best Film in the Full-Length Category of the 19th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival.
The film directed by Carl Joseph Papa was cited for “for boldly taking on the challenges of technology in crafting a very engaging narrative of a young man confronting the demons of his past, and for its overall cinematic excellence.”
Meanwhile, Januar Yap’s Sibuyas ni Perfecto won the Best Film in the Short Film Category for its “quiet but coruscating take on social iniquity and how the poor’s exploitation by the rich is driven by their own denigration and self-abasement.”
Best Director Balanghai trophies go to filmmakers Ryan Espinosa Machado and Mike Cabarles. For his film Huling Palabas, director Machado has effectively summoned “the resources of art to come up with a deeply personal film that evokes fond memories of pre-digital cinema while paying homage to one’s small-town roots, and how all of this contributes to fashioning self-respect and self-identity.”
Director Mike Cabarles, on the other hand, employed “the resources of cinema in effectively evoking the loneliness of two brothers missing their mother whom they have lost to the sea” in his film Makoko sa Baybay.
Jopy Arnaldo’s Gitling and Arvin Belarmino’s Hinakdal received the Best Screenplay awards. The film Gitling was cited for “its very tender tale of two persons bridging the divide between races and cultures and, through constructed language and through silence and even evasion, coming to a poignant understanding of the heart.”
Hinakdal, co-written by Belarmino and Kyla Romero, won the award for the “very striking narrative that remakes the horror genre while humanizing zombies and endowing them with heart and soul.”
NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asia Pacific) Awards went to Iti Mapupukaw and Hinakdal. The full-length film by Papa was praised for “its finely nuanced, masterfully crafted, tale of healing, friendships and young love, effectively utilizing state-of-the-art technology that is integral to its storytelling.” Citation for the short film Hinakdal mentioned “its pithy, layered and strong social commentary laced with dollops of humor.”
Actor Mikoy Morales and actress Pat Tingjuy were cited for their Best Performance of An Actor and An Actress, respectively. Morales won the jury’s nod for “his compelling performance of a charming but predatory womanizer who gets his just desserts” in the film Tether; while Tingjuy won the award for “her refreshing portrayal of a young girl coming to terms with her sexual identity as she comes of age in the exciting world of volleyball.”
Actres Dolly de Leon and actor Bon Andrew Lentejas won the Best Performance of a Supporting Actress and Actor, respectively. Dolly de Leon, who starred in the film Iti Mapukpukaw, was recognized for her “pellucid performance of an affectionate mother helping her son confront the demons of his past.” Meanwhile, Lentejas got the award for his “engaging portrayal of a young man trying to understand his best friend’s difficult ways as the latter comes of age” in Huling Palabas.
Technical awards include:
BEST EDITING – Ilsa Malsi (Rookie), for “effective splicing and intercutting that unravels a girl’s coming-of-age in the exciting world of volleyball.”
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – Martika Escobar (When This Is All Over), for her “effective camera work and lighting to depict the world of drugs and the lifestyle that sustains it.”
BEST ORIGINAL MUSICAL SCORE – Kindred, composed of Justin Punzalan, Vince Dalida, Luis Montales, Jaime San Juan, Moses Webb, Fern Tan, Jorge Juan Wieneke V, Othello Intia, (When This Is All Over), for “its original musical soundtrack that helps propel its depiction of the drug subculture obtaining in high condominium living.”
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – KAYE BANAAG (When This Is All Over), “for successfully conjuring the contrasting worlds of affluence and want in condominium living.”
BEST SOUND – Gian Arre (Tether), “for its effective sound design in which both noise and silence are melded well together to heighten psychological realism.”
Special Jury Prize winners were: Dustin Celestino’s Ang Duyan ng Magiting, cited for “its trenchant portrait of the wages of political violence, for its highly discursive and dialectical take on the culture of impunity that seems to have entrenched itself in Philippine politics, and for arousing among audiences awareness on the need to come to grips with the country’s escalating political violence”; and Sam Villa-Real and Kim Timan’s Hm Hm Mhm, for “its boldly experimental verve to depict a woman revisiting the darker aspects of her childhood.”
Special Award was given to Ang Duyan ng Magiting for Best Ensemble Acting, for its actors “powerful acting that credibly renders the opposing viewpoints in the history of political violence and culture of impunity that seem to have bedevilled the Philippines since the turn of the new century.”
Hinakdal and Rookie won the hearts of the Cinemalaya theater goers and audiences, receiving the Audience Choice Award for Short Film and Full-Length categories, respectively.
WAY UP by Xander Pratt is Tier One’s cover song for the first-ever Web 3.0 podcast Two2Three. Filmed in the city of Isabela, Basilan, the self-produced music video is the first of a triad from the Deep South of the Philippines, along with a total of 17 videos under the album FIREFLIES: Follow the Magic. The other original songs entitled Don’t Hold Back and Oxyfire are also available on Spotify and Youtube, as a tribute to the rising tourism and creative industries in what was an oft-forgotten, post-conflict island.
International artist, performer, designer, and creative director Xander Pratt, who was named Artist of the Year by the International Youth Center, has chosen the Philippines as the central hub of his Asia Tour. A series of Afro-Asia exhibits, shows, and pop-ups have been organized by AsiaTV studios, with Earthsavers UNESCO artist for peace. Aside from the Philippines, his tour will also visit Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, and Hong Kong, among others.
Having traveled the world to deliver a message of art as a vessel of personal and collective freedom, Pratt, who is based in the Kingdom of Morocco, is also a life coach for young people and the young at heart. A recent member of the International Theatre Institute, he spent the first part of this year writing about the only Black-produced Hollywood superhero, compliments of Mayor Djalia Hataman of Isabela, Basilan. Africa, like Asia and the rest of the Global South, is the oldest inhabited continent on Earth and home to the youngest populations, making a noteworthy case for Asia-Africa connectivity. Truly, the heart of diplomacy and business lies in art as a universal language.
In the cover story, Liza shared updates on her journey to becoming a global entertainer and the big narrative shift she has made since she signed under Careless Music.
“I feel like I’m getting a second chance at introducing myself as an actress,” says Filipino actress@LizaSoberano. “I’m just allowing myself as an artist to feel, to enjoy the process, to explore, to try things out that I would never have dared to try out when I was building my career in the Philippines.”
One of the Philippines’ most captivating young actors, the June/July 2023 cover star catapulted to fame acting in romantic comedies, but, as GRAZIA finds out, there’s more to this national sweetheart than meets the eye.
Set to make her Hollywood debut in the upcoming horror comedy “Lisa Frankenstein”—directed by Zelda Williams and co-starring Cole Sprouse and Kathryn Newton — Soberano gets candid about making her Hollywood debut, celebrity culture, and speaking her mind in the latest issue.
Editor-in-Chief: Pakkee Tan
Photographer: BJ Pascual
Stylist: Perry Tabora
Hair: Raymond Santiago
Makeup: Robbie Pinera
Producer: Kimi Felices
Set designer: Justine Arcena-Bumanlag
Stylist’s assistant: Kris Deleon
Production assistants: Clark Mancao, Justin Soberano
Ed Sheeran has released his new single ‘Eyes Closed’ alongside the official video (watch here).
Ed originally wrote ‘Eyes Closed’ a few years back. Starting as a break-up song, the lyrics took on a whole new meaning after Ed suffered a heartbreaking loss, which led him to revisit and reimagine the original version of the track for ‘-ʼ. One of the most pop-leaning sonics on his highly anticipated new record, ‘Eyes Closed’ captures the essence of love and loss, which is also reflected in the official video. Directed by Mia Barnes, we see Ed on a night out being followed by a blue monster – serving as a metaphor for grief, Ed is unable to shake it, wherever he goes, reminding him of the void that’s left in his life.
Speaking of the new song and the video, Ed says, “This song is about losing someone, feeling like every time you go out and you expect to just bump into them, and everything just reminds you of them and the things you did together. You sorta have to take yourself out of reality sometimes to numb the pain of loss, but certain things just bring you right back into it.
When I was thinking of concepts for the Eyes Closed music video, I wanted to make a video inspired by movies like Harvey, where the main character has an imaginary friend who’s a giant rabbit that no one can see. There’s also a book I read to my daughters where sadness is encapsulated by an imaginary creature. Often sadness is something that follows you around, engulfing the rooms you’re in, and you can feel and see it, but no one else around you can. So I decided to create my own big blue monster for the video. He gets bigger and bigger as the video goes on, til he takes up whole rooms, and is all I can see, just like sadness.”
Announced earlier this week, his all-new, four-part documentary “Ed Sheeran: The Sum of It All” will air on Disney+ from 3 May 2023. Blending never-before-seen personal archives, interviews, and performances, the intimate documentary explores how his personal experiences have shaped him to become the artist he is today.
Everyone is excited to welcome the newest addition to the SOL community. Make some noise, and raise the banners for the 90s “IT girl” Ina Raymundo.
She’s 47 and she’s proud of it. And why not, Ina Raymundo will surely pass for a 20-year-old- something-woman. Her face and her figure has not aged a bit from the one we saw in the 90s. It is like she stopped aging.
Not only that, she has reinvented and transformed herself to be a model of an empowered woman. She continues to inspire women to pursue their careers, be fit and still be an involved parents. With five children under her care, she is still able to give ample time to upgrade herself and engage others with her passions. That’s strength – in both body and mind.
She is a certified plantita. Starting from one “Sensation” plant, she now takes care of various indoor plants with Anthurium and Monstera as two of the highlights of her mini-indoor jungle.
She is a social media influencer. With almost 2 million followers, more and more people are seeing her as someone who can be trusted and looked up to when it comes to balancing life and aging healthily, beautifully, and happily.
She is a health and fitness enthusiast, and she has the body to show for it.
In all her pursuits, she is aptly supported by her family and Entrasol Platinum with PROCARE. She is the first to say that a woman on the go must never be without healthy food, most especially at an age where age-related issues are cropping up.
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Entrasol Platinum is available in two flavors, Chocolate and Vanilla at 200g and 600g. It is available online in Lazada and Shopee and all leading drugstores, groceries, and supermarkets nationwide at Php441.00 and Php1,134.00 respectively.
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Maricel Soriano reflects on her life as a single mom and concludes Kaya ko pala. Success to her is being able to live life her own way. But the most important thing, she said, was learning to love herself.
In real life, versatile dramatic actress Maricel Soriano is much like the frank and straight-talking Mary you see on TV, although much toned down and not really as combative as her past TV role in Kaya ni Mister, Kaya ni Misis (TV series 1999 – 2000). The bigger difference is that at home, she is both dad and mom to two children – Marron and Sebastien.
Her “heavy drama days” marred by three failed romances seem to have passed. She smiles easily. She is quite happy at the moment!
All the emotional hurts have healed over time, she said. Success to her is being able to live life her own way. She became a bit misty-eyed when she talked about how she was being a mom and how she loved her children. But the most important thing, she said, was learning to love herself.
Having spent half of her life in show business, Maricel has metamorphosed into a fine actress. From her Underage days (with Snooky Serna and Dina Bonnevie), John en Marsha, Kaluskos Musmos, Maricel Drama Special, and other equally memorable TV shows and movies, Maricel has earned the tag “Diamond Star.” To closer friends and associates, however, she is “Inay.”
Her wish? “A more glorious movie industry and for a long-lasting showbiz career. For myself, I just hope that my career will go on for a long time,” she says. “While I’m in the business, I’ll make the most of the present moment and the opportunities it lends.”
She’s now in her 49th year in show business.
How are you coping as a single parent?
So far, I’m getting used to it. It’s both fulfilling and challenging because I didn’t imagine that I’ll be able to do it. Of course, it would have been different if my family were intact.
Did becoming a single parent change your personality?
Hindi pa rin, ganoon pa rin ako (laughs). Yeah in a way. Pagdating sa paggastos hindi ko na naiisip minsan ang sarili ko. Ang naiisip ko, I want to buy these things for my children. ‘Pag naging magulang ka ganoon pala.
What’s a regular day like for Maricel?
When I have no work, I just stay at home. I’m the type of person who doesn’t really like going out. I’m a very homebody person. Occasionally, if I’m invited by my close friends. (Among her showbiz close friends are Roderick Paulate, Michael de Mesa, among others).
I seldom take a rest. Perhaps that’s how much I love my job. Alam ko kasi kung paano akong mahalin ng trabaho ko. It’s like give and take, bigyan mo ito ng importansya at ganoon din ang gagawin sa iyo. I always give my 100 percent to everything that I do.
How come you’re called “Inay”?
It started when I was doing Maricel Drama Special. So everybody was calling me Inay, instead of calling me ma’am or boss. Hello! Parang feeling ko teacher ba ako. For me, I like it when I’m being called Inay.
It seems you’re so close to gay people . . .
Because they make me laugh (‘cause it’s hard to make me laugh). They make me feel very comfortable. And I’m myself when I’m with them. Iba ‘yong feeling ko kapag nandiyan sila. Ang treatment kasi nila parang nandoon ‘yong respect. They follow my advice and come back and tell me “Inay your advise is so effective.” So I feel so good. It’s quite ironic because, at one point, these people were misinterpreted by society. Tao rin sila. They know how to care and love. It’s just that some straight people don’t want to understand them.
What do you think is your biggest achievement as an actress?
My entire career. I always say this, “Ang pangalan ko, o kung sino man ako ngayon, ay hindi ko pinukpuk sa utak ng bawat mamamayan. Pinaghirapan ko eto pawis at dugo, kung baga. Kung anuman ang na-enjoy ko o iniiyak ko ngayon, it’s a package deal thing.
How about your biggest achievement as a person in general?
My greatest achievement is my children.
What else do you aspire for?
For more money, yes. Of course, all of us have a purpose in life. When you work, you should love your work because you’ll get paid for it. It makes you a whole person.
What do you feel most grateful for?
They come in a package. Kasi hindi lang isang aspeto ako dapat matuwa. Hindi naman tayo mabubuo kung kapiraso lang ang pinag-uusapan natin. Parang rosary ‘yan hindi mo matatapos na nilalaktawan mo ang isang mystery. Kung baga lahat ng nangyari sa buhay ko, pangit, maganda or mabaho, lahat pinagpapasalamat ko. Dahil kundi lahat ng ito, I don’t think I’ll be a better person.
And what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in life?
I have to love myself! (she didn’t elaborate).
How would you like to be remembered?
I want to be remembered for being unique — the real Marya.
(Based on the interview published in the old Mirror Weekly magazine by the same author.)
After the massive success of the inaugural Clark Aurora Music Festival last June 2022 which gathered more than 150,000 attendees, the Philippines’ largest music festival is bringing back its magic this year.
Looking to escape the summer heat while still enjoying a wonderful festival? EP!C Events is once again ready to bring you the BIGGEST names in the OPM scene, giving you nothing but awesome live music, breathtaking views, and sheer excitement.
The Clark Aurora Music Festival this coming April 15 and 16 2023 promises to be even more spectacular than ever. This year’s lineup consists of a combination of various genres, from rising stars to the most sought-after artists of today – Ben&Ben, December Avenue, Arthur Nery, Adie, MRLD, and Lola Amour.
Moreover, Ely Buendia, Parokya ni Edgar, Kamikazee, Sponge Cola, Silent Sanctuary, and Mayonnaise are also expected to join the fun and bring superb and high-caliber music festival experience like no other.
Another thing worth looking for in this upcoming festival is the bigger and brighter batches of hot air balloons which will be displayed and light up Clark’s skyline, providing the perfect backdrop for a memorable weekend of music.
It’s going to be a huge weekend of music and a hot air balloon display, peeps! So, mark your calendars and get your tickets for the Aurora Music Festival! This is one event you won’t want to miss! See you there!
Clark Aurora Music Festival is presented by EP!C EVENTS and EGGSTOP in cooperation with ClarkGlobal City, Clark Development Corporation, and The Medical City Clark.
Visit their website for tickets http://ticket.clarkaurorafest.com/www.smtickets.com and all SM Tickets outlets and via Shopee https://shopee.ph/aurorafestival. For inquiries, call 09812390349.
As scriptwriter-director Bibeth Orteza said, “Ricky Lee is a remembrance of all that makes the idea of writing romantic: a lonely childhood, collegiate years without money to spend, a term in jail even. And then an enviable body of work.”
Ricky Lee has spent a good chunk of his career writing scripts for films. Like his screen films, he assumes multiple forms and shadows, complexity, and simplicity in one sleek package.
Filipino film buffs have bought this package, making Ricky, one of the best and most multi-awarded scriptwriters in the Philippines today. Some of his finest Filipino films include Himala, Moral, Brutal, Salome, Madrasta, Curacha, and Miguel/Michelle, among many others.
Aside from his many years of teaching at UP and the Ateneo, he has been conducting scriptwriting workshops, proof of his generosity in imparting career secrets to aspiring and upcoming writers.
Ricky is also a well-known fictionist, having won several literary awards. He has published an anthology of some of his works in 20 years in fiction, journalism, and film (Si Tatang at Mga Himala ng Ating Panahon.)
Ricky recalls that his scripts of Brutal and Moral had five to seven drafts before he finally perfected them.
“Talagang madugo, hindi bawat revision may nabago lang, talagang overhaul ng skeleton,” he shared during a past interview. “Kasi ‘yong first sequence ng Brutal walang makaintindi kundi si Marilou (Diaz-Abaya). So you have to be patient and concentrate para mag ugat ang mga paa mo. Kailangan mayroong matatag na foundation.”
In writing a script, Ricky follows not just his own judgment. “Natanggap ko na na magkakaroon ng sariling buhay yong script. Whatever will be good for the script doon ako susunod,” he said. “I’m willing to adjust to the popular taste of the audience. Dahil gusto kong ma-reach ang audience ko kaya ako nagsusulat.”
He culled most of his ideas from real-life experiences; some from his imagination. “The ideas in terms of the situation, characters, and images are mostly from outside influences and the environment. Then the inside which is the emotion.”
Length of time
In his early years as a scriptwriter, Ricky could finish a script in a month (the longer script took three months at the most). Now he can finish a script in one or two days.
For instance, the script of the movie Mapusok (starred by Rosanna Roces) was written for two days. As well as Malikot na Mundo (1997) and Sinner or Saint (1984). “I wrote Sinner or Saint on the airplane while going home from Brazil. Pagbaba ko ng airport, may script na ako,” shared Ricky.
The film Andrea by Superstar Nora Aunor was written in less than seven days. The longest material he wrote was Moral. “Hanggang nag shooting na nag-revise pa ako. Nagdidikta ako ng lines kay Marilou over the phone,” said Ricky, “because we wanted to find the best way of telling the story.”
Yet, it was the most fulfilling movie for Ricky.
Working with the best directors
His first year in the industry was a big advantage for Ricky because it was during this period that he got the chance to work with the local cinema’s best directors.
“Nakatrabaho ko agad sina Ishmael Bernal, Mike De Leon, Marilou Diaz-Abaya, Mel Chionglo, Lino Brocka, para akong nag workshop ng todo,” he said.
When he was working with Marilou he learned a different technique. “Expand. Push. When you develop the characters huwag kang nakakahon. Let’s go unstructured. Most of my works with her are mostly on women, like the trilogy of Brutal, Moral, and Karnal. We clicked because she’s a woman. Hindi ko kailanman ma-approximate ‘yong mga alam niyang nuances, malinaw sa kanya ang pagkababae.”
With Ismael Bernal, he learned how to go “classical and structured.”
Meanwhile, Mike De Leon was very conscious of details.
Whereas, Lino Brocka was grounded in one kind of social and political philosophy. “Laging malinaw iyon kay Lino. That’s very reassuring kasi alam mo ang direction,” he said.
Working with dexterous directors (with different approaches) has stretched Ricky’s creative side to the most. From 1979 up to now, Ricky is full-time in the movies. There may be ups and downs in his career, but there will always be people around who will pull him back from leaving the industry.
Nowadays, half of his time is spent writing scripts; the other half he devotes to writing literature, journalism, and theatre. And of course, teaching.
“I will never stop teaching even if it’s difficult to teach because I’m always grounded with reality,” he explained. “Kung puro showbiz ako, lulutang ako, maaaburido ka, o mababaliw ka kasi ang daming humihila sa iyo sa iba’t ibang sides. Mawawalan ka ng perspective.”
Working with the stars
Among the stars he has worked with, he particularly cherished the times when he became close with Nora Aunor. He first worked with Nora in Himala. But they became good friends while they were doing Andrea.
“Kasi trabahong kaibigan talaga ‘yon. We’re still friends up to now, but not as close as before,” he disclosed. Ricky related that he’s not close with celebrities. He keeps a distance from them as much as possible.
Ricky’s turbulent childhood has taught him to face life’s challenges and to excel in one’s talent. He endured many hardships in his struggle to become the country’s multi-awarded scriptwriter.
He typifies the rags-to-riches story. He was born into immigrant families originally from Fujian, China, and was raised in Daet, Bicol. He had a desolate childhood after his parents died when he was still young. He grew up under the care of a relative.
He excelled in school both in Daet and UP. His college days were something for the books. He experienced hunger and loneliness and was jailed for one year during Martial Law for his student activism.
He didn’t resent his past. Rather, he became selfless. He uses his life experiences, struggles, idealism, and intelligence to create over 70 screenplays that have stimulated many Filipino moviegoers. For those pieces of work, he earned more than 30 (and counting) trophies from all the award-giving bodies in the local movie industry.
Because of his upbringing, Ricky related that he became a very shy person. However, he got over his shyness when he entered show business. “I was extremely shy because my father was also extremely shy. We hardly talked. But he loved me. I was very sure of that,” he intimated.
Behind his reserved manner are his witty punchlines. “Defense ko ‘yon para hindi nila ako tingnan sa likod,” he said. “I’m very trusting, but deep inside I’m afraid to trust people. Kasi ilang beses na akong nauntog.”
As a child, he was wont to read almost everything. “Ang feeling ko noon parang inaarmasan ko ang sarili ko. So I accumulated a lot of knowledge. Basa ako nang basa ng libro since I was seven years old.” But he always wanted to become a writer.
When he was in his fourth year of high school at Daet Chung Hua High School, he wanted to run away from home but there was no chance. He had no money.
“Then I read an ad from Free Press (Filipino) that they would accept the short story. Pinadala ko ‘yong story ko (entitled ‘Mayon’) and it was accepted. Every week, binabantayan kong lumabas ang story ko. Finally, when I saw my byline, na reaffirm ‘yong pag-alis ko sa Bicol. I was paid Php50 for my story. That was the happiest time for me as a writer. Then I came to Manila.”
Ricky said that he experienced the most personal growth during his Bicol and UP years. “Those were the happiest years of my life. And also the starvation years for me,” he said.
As scriptwriter-director Bibeth Orteza said, “Ricky Lee is a remembrance of all that makes the idea of writing romantic: a lonely childhood, collegiate years without money to spend, a term in jail even. And then an enviable body of work.”
By Ruby Asoy-Lebajo
(Based on the feature article published in the old Mirror Weekly magazine by the same author)