05 December 2008

Manila Times feature article: 'Revisiting Ricky Lee's Rerouted Roots'

my interview on ricky and the feature article that came out because of that, out today at manila times (sa print and online editions).

ang hirap lang kasi ang dami naming magandang napag-usapan (na lagi namang ganun whenever you talk with him) kaya lang i have to trim it down and include pa the datos ng booklaunch chever niya. oh well. material for the next artik maybe.

photo of ricky by my friend and photo stringer marnie dolera.

original post here.

obvious namang i lurv alliteration di ba, sa title hehe. too bad the lifestyle ed had to make it formal and added ricky's surname. ngyar.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Revisiting Ricky Lee’s rerouted roots

By Libay Linsangan Cantor

Everyone knows Ricky Lee, the scriptwriter. But for those who are not so familiar with him, perhaps a brief recollection of the famous films he scripted would do the trick: Brutal, Moral, Karnal (all directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya); Himala (directed by Ishmael Bernal); Gumapang Ka Sa Lusak, Cain at Abel (both directed by Lino Brocka) and some of his latest, Aishite Imasu Mahal Kita 1941 (directed by Joel Lamangan) and Dubai (directed by Rory Quintos).

Those are but a handful. He actually wrote over a hundred screenplays—all realized into motion pictures, with some bagging awards (Catholic Mass Media Awards, Gawad Urian and the like) and some exhibited in prestigious film festivals abroad (Cannes, Berlin, Toronto Film Festivals, among others). Let’s not even mention that he wrote, co-wrote, did script supervising jobs and/or became the head writer of TV shows (teleseryes, drama anthologies) mostly for ABS-CBN where he is currently ensconced as a creative manager/consultant.

And now, he comes up with his latest work: Para Kay B (o kung paano dinevastate ng pag-ibig ang 4 out of 5 sa atin). And no, it would not be seen in local movie houses, nor would it be available in your friendly neighborhood DVD pirate or as a downloadable Internet movie file. It would be available in bookstores, particularly in National Bookstore, as it is going to be distributed by Anvil Publishing.

Yes, it is a book—his very first novel.

Yes, the man writes literature. Lee always did. Perhaps this is what most people didn’t know about him. This first novel is not his first literary collection as he already came out with a book written in Filipino entitled Si Tatang at mga Himala ng Ating Panahon in 1989. This volume contained his short stories, articles, and even the screenplay of Himala. His latest opus, a love story also written in Filipino (his preferred literary medium of choice), is actually the third novel he wrote when he went on a three-year self-imposed hibernation. Out of those three years, he dived back into literature, producing a political novel, a political satire novel, some short stories, the sequel to his famous scriptwriting manual Trip To Quiapo, and bits of his memoirs.

Clearly, his beginnings as a writer had literary roots.

“Literature is my first and last love. I got into scriptwriting by chance, but I started in literature. Back when I was in fourth year high school in Daet [Camarines Norte], I sent a short story in the Philippines Free Press. It was [Bienvenido Medina Jr.] who first published my work,” Lee reminisced.

And from that chance, he never stopped. When he came to Manila, he became a journalist, essayist, print editor, feature writer, a playwright, and even a poet—though he now balks at that thought.

“I did [try writing poetry], may konti pero napangitan ako [I wrote some but I didn’t like them] so I never wrote [poetry] again. What I want to write [more] are song lyrics. I wrote songs for the two plays I did, in DH and Pitik-Bulag sa Buwan ng Pebrero. My greatest dream is to write a rock musical.”

It is obvious that the man loves to write, and he wants to try writing almost everything—even if he already has, actually.

“I jump from one thing to the next. That’s how I survive as a creative person. I’m not a genre person. I don’t want to be boxed, I don’t want things to be boxed in. I’m like that in my choices [of favorite books and music] and that is also how I am in writing.”

During the launch of his book in UP’s Bahay ng Alumni on November 30, friends and fans came out to support him with this new endeavor. Perhaps the launch was the most star-studded book launch in recent times, as his celebrity friends and supporters came in droves not just as audience members and buyers but also helpers in staging the event.

Celebrities who read excerpts from the book include Lorna Tolentino, Gina Alajar, Cesar Montano, Chanda Romero, Cherry Pie Picache, Eugene Domingo and Piolo Pascual. Behind the scenes, film and TV director Joyce Bernal together with Lee’s other friends and past workshoppers lent helping hands. TV and theater actor Malou de Guzman sang Lee’s penned song from his Pitik-Bulag play. The admiring audience included personalities from film and TV like Gloria Romero, Susan Roces, Angel Locsin; literary figures like National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera, Marra Lanot and Danton Remoto; fellow scriptwriters Racquel Villavicencio and Pete Lacaba; musicians Cooky Chua and Ely Buendia; film directors Maryo Delos Reyes and Joel Lamangan; journalist Jo-ann Maglipon and many more. Fans, former students and non-showbiz supporters also came in droves.

With this kind of support, Lee could happily look at a positive literary future ahead of him, which will surely prompt him to write, again and again. The man doesn’t stop and we should be thankful—and supportive—of that.

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