PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) remembers director Lino Brocka who
gave so much of his creativity and vision to Filipino movie making that his
sudden death in a car crash on May 21, 1991 was a shock that reverberated not
only in local show business but all over the country. He was only 52.
He was posthumously honored by the FAMAS (Filipino Academy
of Movie Arts and Sciences) Hall of Fame as Best Director in 1991 and declared
National Artist for Film in 1997.
He has been called one of the greatest directors of Philippine cinema.
Indeed, he thrived in its so-called Second Golden Age when his peers were making
their own masterpieces, like Ishmael Bernal, Mike de Leon, Celso Ad. Castillo,
Laurice Guillen, Marilou Diaz- Abaya, and renowned veteran from the 50's Eddie
Romero. Many of today's stars owe their rise in showbiz and acting trophies to
Lino Brocka. At the peak of his career
in the 70's and 80's, he made films that won critical acclaim and awards for
their social and artistic impact.
Mario Hernando of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, the film critics
group that gives out Gawad Urian, lauded Brocka for presenting true and
believable characters and powerful stories. One thing that Lino had was the
"complete control of the art and his fellow artists and workers."
Yet the measure of Brocka's greatness must take account as well of his life outside
the accolades. It was the deep well from which he drew the intensity, if not
themes, for his films. He grew up in a broken family and experienced poverty
and child abuse. The decade of the 60's found him struggling with issues of the
soul and survival. In Hawaii,
he tried hard to be a Mormon missionary but the rebel in him could not keep the
Of Brocka's sojourn in Hawaii, Hernando wrote
"Brocka had a lot of time to think and he began to put his own life into
some kind of perspective. He had gone from being a prize-winning high school
graduate with the world ahead of him, to a university dropout whose mother
compared him unflatteringly to his former classmates, and his search for
meaning in life through the Mormon faith was unfulfilled.
"Gradually, he formed
his own credo for living: to be grateful for what he had, not to clutter his
life with non-essentials; to reject the excuse that something is futile and
therefore not worth doing; and finally resolving that ‘life will never put me
down, I shall prove stronger than life.'"
After ending his missionary assignments he flew to San Francisco and lived among hoboes, worked
as a busboy and in a hospital for the elderly. Still struggling with his
personal issues and feeling utterly homesick he returned to the Philippines
He resumed his long-standing interest in theater through PETA (Philippine
Education Theater Association), from doing menial tasks to eventually becoming
executive director. On the road to becoming a movie director, he directed
television shows (Balintataw, Lino Brocka
Presents, Hilda, Tanghalan) and worked as script supervisor for director
Eddie Romero's films.
PEP retraces Lino Brocka's achievements in film over two decades. He made
over 60 movies. Many were commercial quickies, some were box-office hits; and others,
powerful enough to pass the test of time.
Early Acclaim (1970-1972). Lino Brocka made his first movie in 1970 under
Lea Productions' Wanted: Perfect Mother with the cast of Boots Anson-Roa, Dante Rivero, Eddie Mercado,
and Gina Alajar. He also wrote this melodrama, which won Best Screenplay
in the 1970 Manila Film Festival.
That same year, he directed Santiago, winning
his second award, this time as Best Director from the Citizen's Council for
Mass Media. This action drama starred Fernando Poe, Jr. (FAMAS nomination for
Best Actor), Hilda Koronel (Best Supporting Actress), and others in a
Brocka's other movies for Lea Productions included: Tubog sa Ginto
(1971), which was controversial for its homosexual theme; Lumuha Pati Mga
Anghel (1971), and Stardoom (1971).
Stardoom, a dark, tragic
view of movie showbiz, garnered FAMAS nominations for Lolita Rodriguez
(Best Actress) and Caridad Sanchez (Best
Supporting Actress). The cast included Walter Navarro, Hilda Koronel, Mario
O'Hara, Eddie Garcia and several other seasoned actors.