"I will always be a Filipino film producer until Idie," proudly proclaimed Mother Lily Monteverde in the midst ofdifficulties faced by theater owners, producers, and the whole movie industry.The Regal Entertainment founder and matriarch addressed the participants atthe Anti-Flicker Piracy seminar held at Club Filipino in San Juan last June 17.This seminar was organized by the Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council.
Mother Lily recalled her humble beginnings, specifically the firstfilm she imported from the United States. "In 1961, I had a little money,my husband and I went to New York. We had to scrimp on meals. I pretended to befull and ate whatever my husband left over. Then we were able to save $500 tobuy what they call a re-issue print."
When she returned to the Philippines, none of the theater owners wanted to showher first purchased film because it was dated. Eventually, a theater in Cebu gaveher film a break and allowed her to screen it. Mother Lily acknowledgedthe father of Valeriano "Bobit" Avila as the person who gave her thebreak. It was their theater that allowed Mother Lily to show her firstmovie and eventually earn P500,000. Bobit is currently president of the Cebu Metro Theater OwnersAssociation.
Bobit Avila recalled the title of that first film, AllMine to Give, which wasabout a mother forced to give away her children for them to survive.
Over four decades later, Mother Lily has produced countlesslocal films and is highly regarded as one of the pillars of the movie industry.
"Even when Regal Films was at its height, we still saved our expenses inorder to help the industry. Today, I am able to contribute as a consultant toGMA Films and help the industry in that manner. We must fight hand in hand tobattle piracy," said Mother Lily.
The local film industry is reeling from theproliferation of fake DVD titles. "We used to have 5 cinemas, now we onlyhave three," said Mr. Avila. He also explained that in the United States,the protection of Intellectual Property Rights has now fallen under thejurisdiction of Homeland Security. An officer shared with him that even inGuam, Filipino- produced movies are also being pirated.
Ric Camaligan, president of the Motion Picture Anti-PiracyCouncil also announced during the seminar that P10,000 is being offered as anincentive for people to report those whom they see recording movies in cinemas:
"If one reports a person using a flicker/camcorder you can get P10,000after the blotter report. And after the hearing with the fiscal, you get anadditional P10,000. So anyone can get a total P20,000 reward for reporting thecrime of recording a movie in the cinema. A hundred cases were already reportedand solved in this manner."
Mr. Camaligan, who is also the vice president forTheater Operations of SM Malls, claimed that video and theater sales have gonedown 30 percent.
"And of these estimated profits only 30 percent arelegitimate, 70 percent are pirated. The government is losing over a billionpesos in lost revenue from piracy. More cinemas will be closing. Filipinos oneday will watch their movies in Plaza Miranda. We are gathered to strengthen oursystem. We are fighting back."