IT WAS during the time of Mayor Ramon "Titot" Jison (1988-1992) when first lady Maida Jison organized the Silay City Cultural Outreach Program (SCCOP). She recruited some cultural workers of Silay to be part of the team. I was among the chosen few.
I was then a faculty member of Dona Montserrat Lopez Memorial High School handling the subject Theater Arts. I was also the adviser of Hda. Adela Folklore Village Theater Group and the external vice president of Silay City Arts Association (SCAAI) that facilitated the zarzuela competition. Inday Maida appointed me as drama director and script writer of the outreach program.
Earlier, the cultural workers of Silay were already given training by CCP, PETA and even made to attend the special theater sessions with Monino Duque, Francis Maravilla and Louie Dormido. Mayor Titot and Inday Maida requested me to attend the Negros Summer Workshop in Multi-Media handled by Peque Gallaga at La Salle College in Bacolod City.
For me, Basic Acting and Teaching Acting was just a review class but I enjoyed the style of Direk Peque Gallaga, and my classmates, ninety percent girls, were very encouraging that I did not miss a single session. Direk Peque and I developed a kind of "maestro-alumno" relationship. Knowing that I am a zarzuela director, he would take time to coach me on the essential things that I should learn in directing.
He even allowed me to observe his other classes... film appreciation, movie acting and work in progress. The end of the workshop was not the end of our friendship. When I became the tourism officer of Silay, we met in so many culture-related activities... dance festivals, beauty pageants, tourism fora.
When Councilor Solo Locsin, Dane Cobrado and Edmar Villanueva initiated the holding of Silay short film festival in 2015 (Cine Kahirup), Director Peque Gallaga was requested to be the adviser, resource person, judge and honored guest. Cine Kahirup encouraged neophyte producers, directors, actors and visual artists to come up with short films about Silay.
Among the LGUs in Negros Occidental, Silay was the first to launch this project... later on other LGUs followed. Our best films were even shown at the Panaad sa Negros Festival during the cinema night alongside with the short films produced by the Mass Communication classes of colleges and universities.
Other than "Oro, Plata, Mata"... that the opening and closing scenes were filmed in Silay at the house of Jose Benedicto Gamboa, Direk Peque Gallaga directed also a Hiligaynon short film titled "Tabang" (2016), a horror film on Pinoy doppelganger.
Most of the scenes were filmed at the house of Senator Jose C. Locsin and Mayor Romulo G. Golez. Direk Peque requested for the assistance of our tourism office in scouting for the best locations within Silay. While finishing "Tabang", Peque would have afternoon chat over a cup of coffee and a plate of lumpia with Solo Locsin, Tita Charet Locsin and me at Balay Puti, the "Adela Mansion".
He would go down memory lane and talk about the pedigree of "Oro, Plata, Mata". He was in show business for 11 to 12 years before having that story. Earlier he worked on "Binhi", a psycho-sexual story about a woman's repressed desire, and he even wanted to film "Ang Babaeng Hulk" with Mitch Valdes, which was about Philippine pop art and the splintering caused by western influence.
I asked him to make comments on the kind of Pinoy movies shown in our theaters now. He gave me a long shot smile, "We have no critics. We have a lot of reviewers, but no critics. Films should not be judged as if you are judging a piece of literature. They say a lot but they do not understand what is in the film."
He gave us his piece if mind, "Our reviewers are terribly lazy and they have this believe-in-themselves attitude. They would say that the acting is alright and the editing was okay. They just say that but they do not know what that means. They have no sense of history and we do not know why they called themselves critics."
"Pinoy films use codes we call cliché. This could be cheap but movie goers bite. I want real critics to go far beyond the codes. They should identify directors who are just hooked by the codes and became victims... or the other way around.
Director Peque Gallaga is deep in his thoughts and that could be the reason why he was not comfortable with his former producer who would say one thing today... and another thing tomorrow. The Peque Gallaga we know would not compromise his film with extreme commercialism and profit. (To be continued)