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Monday, March 25, 2013
THE film was originally short-listed for the Cinemalaya Festival in 2010. Armed with a storyline that sews two plots together—one inspired by Gina Apostol’s short story Cunanan’s Wake and the other, a real life experience of screenwriter Rody Vera—Cebuano filmmaker Loy Arcenas was all set to make what he would later call REquieme!, a tragicomedy that reflects on death, sexuality, family and Filipino society.
What he wasn’t ready for was the “logistical nightmare” it turned out to be. With a huge cast that had to be shuffled from one location to another, REquieme!’s production seemed more complicated than what the director had anticipated. Nevertheless, fast forward two years later, Loy called it a wrap and submitted REquieme! to the festival in 2012—in which it was given the best screenplay and special jury awards. He was in Cebu on March 16 for the screening of the film, which was organized by Little Boy Productions headed by Hendri Go.
REquieme! is only Loy’s second film. His first film Niño premiered in the 2011 Cinemalaya festival and likewise received the special jury prize. Not to mention, Niño was included in the 2012 Busan International Film Festival in Korea, where it was co-winner for the best film award.
Born and raised in Cebu, Loy studied in Sacred Heart School for Boys prior to pursuing a pre-med degree in the University of the Philippines Diliman—at that time, believing he would follow his father’s footsteps. He was part of the UP Concert Chorus and it was there, he said, where he fell in love with performing arts—starting with theater.
Loy’s early days in the industry were met with collaborations with Conching Sunico and the Manila Symphony Society, in which he directed musical productions. Eventually deciding to leave behind his budding medical career, Loy moved to London and studied design at the English National Opera, where he consequently found his niche as a set designer.
He thrived as a set designer in New York, the home of Broadway. There he worked with renowned directors and major theater companies, and even earned several distinctions including the Off-Broadway Theater Award for Sustained Excellence of Scenic Design (Obie), the Drama Desk Award, the LA Drama Critics Circle Award and the Michael Merritt Award for Design Collaboration.
Loy also dabbled in directing while in New York, working on Filipino-centric plays like Flipzoids and The Romance of Magno Rubio, for which he received his second Obie.
“Going back to directing seemed like a natural progression in my theater career,” Loy shared, “and now I’m back in the Philippines pursuing a different artistic challenge, scaling a different mountain this time.”
Loy’s films both highlight intricacies of Filipino culture. While Niño tackled on faith and family, REquieme! touches on how Filipinos deal with death—from how one scrambles looking for money to pay for the burial to the oftentimes bustling scene of a funeral complete with gambling and the local mayor’s tarps.
“We wanted a huge canvas on which we could mirror ourselves as a nation,” Loy said about REquieme!.
“(In the film) we get to see how fame can sometimes blind us, how our government can fail us and how our laissez-faire bureaucracy still bogs us down. But for the many wrongs that this society has, there are its plus, too.
“The optimism of the people, for one, compassion and the faceless small people—the taong bayan who just want to do the decent thing. We’ve woven this tapestry in the shape of a farce so that we may be able to look at ourselves and laugh. And hopefully we get to learn a few lessons along the way.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 26, 2013.