Bantayan Festival

Bantayan Festival, now on its 9th year, is an annual celebration in Guimbal, Iloilo to pay homage to the heroism of Christian natives of Guimbal who fought against the Moros who frequently attacked and captured natives then sold them as slaves in Kolambogan, Mindanao. During the 17th century, the natives thought of securing their area for defense and built bantayans or watchtowers originally made of bamboo and were later built out of huge blocks of stones. Today, three bantayan structures still exist in the area.

I was invited by good friend Ray Gibraltar to mentor and judge in their Indie Film Festival, part of the Bantayan Festival celebration. This indie festival, a brainchild of then Guimbal Mayor and now Iloilo Vice-Governor Richard Garin, aims to promote their municipality’s talents as they make films with Guimbalanon filmmakers, staff, actors and must use the Karay-a dialect.

It was a fun stay in Guimbal with fellow filmmaker EJ Salcedo, director of Third World Happy starring Sam Milby (which will be exhibiting at the Jeonju International Film Festival this May) who also mentored Directing and Production Design for the “kids”.

Some pictures of the Tribal Dance competition featuring 33 baranggays in the Municipality divided into 9 tribes.

‘BROD’ Official Trailer

Official trailer of the first film I line produced for my own outfit, The Grit Project. It premiered at the 12th Cinemanila International Film Festival last December 8, competing in the Digital Lokal category. Starring Kenjie Garcia (Ang Lihim ni Antonio), Ardie Bascara (formerly Basti Romero of Santuaryo), renowned theatre actress Marife Necesito (Mammoth), Xeno Alejandro (Roxxxanne), Jess Mendoza (Ben & Sam).

Upcoming indie actors Nick Guila (theatre actor, Orosman at Zafira), Patrick Esteban (Hinala), Paul Jake Paule (theatre actor, 2010 Aliw awardee), Mehdi Gohlami (tv, All about Adam) complete the ensemble of cast, directed by award-winning director Ray Defante Gibraltar (Timawa at Delgado, Wanted: Border). Being a married heterosexual, he expressed his interest in directing a gay love story so I opened up the possibility of me producing a project about gays in the fraternity.

I think this film came out pretty well. I must say, Palanca-winner John Teodoro’s poetry made the film interesting. With haunting music by Monet Silvestre. Yeah, famed mentor in Pinoy Dream Academy, I had goosebumps when I finished watching the film. Seriously. And this is his first full-length, believe it or not. I’m proud of this film.

‘BROD’ will be shown in Manila theatres on February 16, 2011, a post-Valentine treat for gays and straights alike. Trust me, this one transcends beyond a gay love story. Love is bittersweet, eh?

We were hungry like that

Taken on January 17, 2011, past midnight.
While finalizing the edit of “Señorita”, a film I was working on for more than three months. Significantly, hunger bugged me at a time I decided I feel like I’m getting fat and should start losing weight. And what a way to start it with junk food at midnight. 
Hunger makes me cranky and discipline is boring.

Hindi ito liham ng pag-ibig

“Please give me a chance to love you, too.” 
Hindi mo alam ‘to pero pinagtawanan ako ng kaibigan kong si Ferdie nung marinig niyang sinabi mo sakin to. Napangiti ako, oo. Pero hindi ako yung tipong nagpapapahalata ng saya o gulat o kilig. Mahigit apat na taon na pala mula nung sinabi mo sa akin ang mga katagang yun. Naalala ko lang at napapangiti pa rin ako. 
Ayoko kasing simulan ang liham na ‘to sa “Dear Carlo”. Hindi naman kasi ako mail-order bride. Alam mo namang lahat ng ginagawa ko, gusto kong gawin sa kakaibang paraan. Kadalasan, sa kagustuhan kong mapaiba, nagiging korni at predictable na yata ako. Hindi na nakakatuwa. Sa tuwing nakikita ako ni Ferdie o kahit maka-text man lang, lagi niyang pinapaalala ang linya mong iyon at sa tuwina, namumula ako. Parang teenager na namumukadkad, nababalisa at nagkakataghiyawat. Tumatak nga ang pick-up line mo.
Sa tuwing tinatanong kita kung bakit mo ako mahal, lagi mong sagot ‘hindi ko alam’. Dapat nga ba akong matunaw o mag-alala? Inaasahan kong sasabihin mo na mahal mo ako ‘kasi umuutot ka sa harap ko nang walang paalam, kasi pinipilit mo akong kumain ng gulay,  kasi natatawa ka kapag sinasabi kong amoy matanda ang repolyo, kasi hinahayaan mo akong lumabas kapag Sabado, kasi pinapatawa mo ako sa mga hirit mo, kasi pinagtitiyagaan mo ang ugali ko, kasi jologs ka.’ Ang sabi mo lang, mahal mo ako dahil ako ito. Yun lang at napapakalma na ako kahit kadalasan, hindi ko alam ang ibig sabihin ng ‘ako ito’.
Halos limang taon. Hindi ko na maalala ang bawat detalye ng mga buwan, linggo, araw, oras, minuto, segundo ng iyong paglubog, paglitaw, pagseselos, pamamaalam, pagyakap, paghalik, pagtawa, pakikinig, pagsuporta pero lahat ng yun, nakaukit na sa sistema ko at katawan ko na ang kusang naghahanap sa presensya mo. Sa lahat ng tagumpay, nandyan ka para makisaya kasama ko. Nakikidalamhati sa tuwing nabibigo, ibinibigay ang balikat sa bawat panibugho, nakinig sa lahat ng angas.
Isang salamat lang ba ang maaari kong sabihin sayo? Malamang hindi. Dahil kulang pa ang isang salita na mamumutawi mula sa aking mga labi. Dahil sa bawat sandali, lagi kong ipinagpapasalamat ang pagkakataong ibinigay ko para sa ating dalawa. Dahil wala nang hihigit pa sayo. Dahil wala nang hihigit pa sa pagmamahal mo.