january 23-30, 2002
greenbelt cinema 1, makati city
metro manila, philippines





Celebrity Actors in Independent Films

by Khavn Dela Cruz 


If you are able to answer all four questions correctly, you may (not) read this article. If you are able to answer three of these questions, you may read everything except the Showbiz Indie honor roll. If you answer 2 questions, you may only read the imaginary short epic in the middle. If you answer only one, you may only read the beautiful introduction after this. If you are not able to answer any of these stupid questions and you are under fifty, you have to research the correct answers on the World Wide Web, thus wait for the answers to be posted by the internet component of this holy newspaper. If you are only under fifty years old ..., never mind.

1. Did you cry in buckets when the writer was killed by a giant pencil in Joey Agbayani's

short film of what title?

2. Is Kidlat Tahimik: a) a cinematic force of nature, b) an unheavenly body, c) a hippie

catch phrase, d) a brand of G-string from Katmandu, e) all of the above, f) none

of the above? If your answer is f) none of the above, explain why in less than 100

words but not more than 150 on a separate sheet of yellow pad.

3. True or False: Roxlee is Cesar Asar.

4. Fill-in the blanks: ____________, ____________, _____________, & _____________

are the only 4 Filipino filmmakers ever featured in the Cannes Film Festival.




Casting a name actor doesn't necessarily guarantee a commercial hit; Juday's "My Pledge Of Love" wasn't a top-grosser. Nor does it make a film worthy of an award or a place in cinema history. It does, though, give the film some sort of credibility or value; more specifically, what they call: Star Value.


Along the years, through schools & institutions like the Mowelfund Film Institute (with its summer film workshops), the Cultural Center of the Philippines (with its Gawad-CCP Alternative Film & Video Festival), the National Commission for Culture & the Arts (with its film production grants), and the UP Film Center & Film Program, independent film, particularly the short film genre, has blossomed in the Philippines, as evident through Raymond Red's Best Short Film award at Cannes last year (which by the way stars Ronnie Lazaro, Eddie Garcia, & John Arcilla).


More than a thousand short films have been produced by these emergent filmmakers; none of which would have been made (with the exception of most animations) without the help of actors. Actors in independent films range from the director himself and other members of the crew to their relatives and friends to theater actors to professional film actors-slash-celebrities.


I've talked with a quartet from the last batch, the Celebrity Actors (those you see in telenovelas and mall blockbusters), about their experiences and perceptions regarding Philippine independent film and filmmakers. I then squeezed our conversations in this imaginary short epic entitled "The 4 Horsemen Of Generosity".



THE 4 HORSEMEN OF GENEROSITY, an imaginary short epic


CAST: Julio Diaz as Julio, the horseman who starred in Raymond Red's 2 full-lengths

                        "Bayani" & "Sakay"

            Lou Veloso as Lou, the horseman who starred in Manny Reyes' "Swaping" &

Anton Juan's "Taong Grasa"

            Pen Medina as Pen, the horseman who has appeared in numerous Mowelfund

short films (Johnny Cruz's "Buhawi", Mark Meily's "Pangako Ng Bagong

Simulain", et al)

Eric Quizon as Eric, the horseman who has appeared in Filmless Films'

"Greaseman" & directed his own short films


In the lost limbo between cyberspace and surreality called "Phonehome", Eric, Julio, Lou, & Pen, while non-chalantly riding their 3,9,1, & 5-footed horses respectively, began muttering pseudo-profound lines from a forgotten flick called __________  (Cute Editor: "I also forgot.") like mad dogs from Survivor.



Eric: I understand the plight of the independent filmmaker. I understand what he or she is going thru: the challenges, the dreams. I share them too. I see their vision: what they want to happen, what they want the film to become.



Lou: Acting is sharing yourself. If the New Bloods entering the field of directing & the arts need you to become their model, why not? Even photographers & painters need models. Who knows: that young director might become a National Artist someday.



Pen: Masarap kasi pag nakiki-jam yung director, kapag open. Gaya ni Raymond Red. Kapag ganoon kasi, mas nabubuo mo ang character mo. Mas marami kasing maaring makita ang aktor kesa sa direktor. Sa direktor galing ang basics. Sa aktor naman galing ang mga detalye, ang transformation, yung daan kung paano makapunta ron. Para hindi lumalabas na pilit o contrived ang acting.



Julio: What I noticed with independent cinema is that it has its own unique system with its own personal rhythm & non-commercial approach. It entails creativity in storytelling; to give cinematic life even to the most lifeless object/subject.



Eric: One thing with independents is that they would make their films no matter what. Even on their own. Because it's so difficult to penetrate mainstream cinema, with conventional producers and all. Going independent is one way of realizing their vision.



Lou: A short film is a caption of life, of events in a couple of minutes. In commercial features, they prolong scenes & itemize situations to give a 2-hour entertainment.



Pen: Kapag baguhan, hindi malaki ang ego. Kung may talent, mas mainam. Nagja-jive ang vibes niyo. Mas masarap kasi kapag mas open ang direktor at aktor sa isa't isa. Kapag established na kasi, papakinggan ka naman, pero kadalasan hindi tatanggapin ang ideya mo, ang sa kanya pa rin ang mananaig. Minsan tuturuan ka pa. Kahit na hindi ka sang-ayon. Kunyari hindi integral sa role, mahirap yon ipakita bilang aktor, ang lumalabas tuloy asiwa.



Julio: Independent films are realized even without the approval of others. Like Lino Brocka whom one can't just order around to follow some old & tired formula.

Being independent is being anti-formula, more experimental, lihis. It is dealing with concepts that have no limits & boundaries, and not giving into mere commercialism.



SHOWBIZ INDIE HONOR ROLL (an end-credits in progress)

For sharing their time and God/Allah/Buddha/etc.-given talents with Philippine Independent Cinema: Angel Aquino, Lou Veloso, Eric Quizon, Ronnie Lazaro, Eddie Garcia, John Arcilla, Joel Torre, Ynez Veneracion, Caridad Sanchez, Ray Ventura, Nonie Buencamino, Allan Paule, Tetchie Agbayani, Ricky Davao, Bembol Roco, Ana Capri....

Copyright 2001 .Mov: The 1st Philippine Digital Film Fest and Filmless Films. 
 All Rights Reserved.