"Personally, I find the theater actors better to work with because they don't complain, you can feed them Sky Flakes three meals a day, and pay them in catfood, basically."
Ito ang kontrobersiyal na pahayag ng baguhang indie filmmaker na si Rafael "Rafa" Santos na umani ng batikos at "violent reactions," hindi lamang sa local theater community, kundi pati na sa ilang mga taga-showbiz industry. (CLICK HERE to read related story.)
Si Rafa Santos ay isang short film director na may entry sa forthcoming 7th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, na gaganapin simula July 15, 2011 sa CCP theatres sa Roxas Blvd, Pasay City.
Ang short film niya ay pinamagatang Samarito, topbilled by theater actress Bea Garcia.
Si Bea ay lumabas na rin sa ilang indie movies tulad ng mga pelikula ni Jerrold Tarog, among others. Kasama rin siya sa cast ng Prey ni Brillante Mendoza.
Naganap ang panayam na iyon ni Rafa sa talk show na Cityscape ng ANC na ipinalabas noong June 24, Friday.
Kasama ni Rafa sa nasabing interview si Loy Arcenas, filmmaker ng full-length Cinemalaya entry titled Niño, at isa pang panauhin.
Na-post agad sa Facebook ang nasabing video at dito na nagsimulang rumagasa ang galit, disappointment, disgusto, at pagkondena ng mga theater and showbiz people sa inasal ni Santos sa nasabing panayam.
WHO IS RAFA? Sino nga ba si Rafael "Rafa" Santos?
Ayon sa kanyang profile bilang filmmaker sa Cinemalaya website:
"Rafa Santos was born Rafa Santos back in 1985 and has been growing ever since.
"1999: Rafa stops growing.
"2007: Rafa enters Marilou Diaz-Abaya Film Institute where, mentored over the next two years by the likes of Laurice Guillen, Mark Meily, the late Johnny Delgado and the venerable Marilou Diaz-Abaya herself, Rafa gains the ability and wherewithal to maybe someday make a Cinemalaya worthy movie.
"2011: Rafa finally makes a Cinemalaya worthy movie.
"With the indispensable support of close friends Bea Garcia, Nico Dabon and Melvin Fausto, "Samarito" was shot mainly in Rafa's kitchen, edited mainly in his room and scored mainly in the shower.
"Now, at 25 years of age, single father of a 3 year old girl and singer of many ill-fated karaoke songs, Rafa has achieved enough to fill two paragraphs with words."
THE REACTION. At any rate, nabulabog nga ang Twitter at Facebook accounts ng theater and showbiz insiders dahil sa "mayabang" daw na pahayag na ito ni Rafa.
Kahapon ng tanghali, June 28, kakaputok pa lang ng issue sa Internet, kumalat ang balitang ayaw raw magbigay ng kanyang apology ni Rafa—kahit marami ang na-offend sa kanyang pahayag on national TV—dahil ayon sa filmmaker, he was "taken out of context."
Dito lalong lumagablab ang galit at sentimiyento ng marami sa showbiz.
Post ni Direk Mark Reyes (veteran film and TV director) sa kanyang Facebook account:
"First of all, to be called 'director' or 'direk' in the local industry is a term of respect and privilege. It is given to you by your peers.
"It is not a title that one gets like a doctor or an engineer after finishing a degree course. It irks me to hear such hap hazard comments like these from new 'directors.'
"In my 20 plus years in television and after several feature films under my name.... I VALUE, HONOR, AND RESPECT ALL ACTORS, CREW and PRODUCTION PEOPLE.
"No one deserves such derogatory remarks... within or out of context!"
Maging ang US-based nang former actress na si Giselle Tongi, hindi napiligang mag-react sa mahabang thread na yun sa Facebook:
"I think that he was trying to make a point that artistas have high demands. He just went way too overboard. Pero what do you expect? Bagets pa kase and this is his first film. Tsk tsk tsk.
"Sayang, but maybe he was trying to be controversial, noh?
"Oh I agree he is way out of line. I am not justifying his actions. I am trying to give reasons why he could be so stupid enough to say these things. Gets?"
Kabilang din sa iba pang vocal sa kanilang mga komento sa Facebook ay ang mga magagaling na theater actors tulad nina Pen Medina, Ricci Chan, at Kalila Aguilos.
Sina Medina at Chan, diretsahang pino-post na i-boycott ang short film ni Santos.
Ani Medina: "If it was an attempt to be witty, then he failed miserably! BOYCOTT! Yung iba dyan, wag kumagat sa promo gimik ng kumag na yan."
May non-showbiz din na nag-post nito: "I guess kung eto strategy niya para mapagusapan, magaling siya and it's working."
Hirit ni Ricci Chan: "So, dapat ang strategy natin ay pumunta sa screening (sa Cinemalaya), pero mag-walk out sa film niya. Game!"
Post ng actor na si Paolo Contis (Xonia Aitana Contis, pangalan ng anak niya, ang gamit nito sa FB):
"Kawawa naman si Rafa Santos... Siguro, never siya nagka-break sa industriya kaya ganyan siya magyabang... Ganyan talaga pag patapon na tao eh..
"I just hope I don't see him kasi mas kawawa siya pag nagkataon!! Nood tayo sa premiere ng movie n'ya tapos kuyugin!!" pabiro pang post ni Paolo.
RAFA'S OPEN LETTER. Nang mga sumunod na oras kahapon pa rin, napag-alaman ng PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) na marahil, dahil na rin sa "binobomba" na siya ng lahat sa mga social networking sites, napagtanto ni Rafa na gumawa na ng move—ang humingi ng apology, sa pamamagitan ng paggawa ng isang "open letter."
Ang ginawa ni Rafa, nag-email ito ng kanyang panig sa Cinemalaya community—partikular na sa kapwa niya filmmakers (shorts and full lengths)—kabilang na kay Ms Laurice Guillen, competition director ng Cinemalaya.
Narito ang kabuuang nilalaman ng nasabing liham ni Santos na pinamagatan niyang "AN OPEN LETTER FROM RAFA SANTOS TO THE CINEMALAYA COMMUNITY":
"My name is rafa santos. I recently taped an interview for an ANC show that, as you may have heard, went about as terrible as it could have gone for me. I made an unfortunate joke about what it is like to work with theater actors; a remark which offended countless artists the industry over. I do not defend this comment in any way. Even in the context of poor, ill-advised humor, my statement made light of an art that many among us hold dear and sacred.
"Misguided comedy aside, what I meant to infer was that theater actors, in my estimation, are the pinnacle of the thespian craft. They do not put on airs or show up late or complain about the quality of the food or condition of the set and come in day after day after day for little to no money all for their love of acting and performance. It is the work that they feed on: the opportunity to bring life to a nebulous character on an inanimate page.
"It was never my intention to look down on or demean stage actors in any shape or form. Some of my best experiences as a director are derived from the pleasure of working with theater people; to be able to feel the dedication and devotion they possess towards their art and to somehow allow that same commitment to diffuse into myself.
"One of my dearest friends, my neighbor and actress in my movie, Bea Garcia, is herself a shining example of the passion of which i speak.
"It pains me to know I've hurt her so deeply in assaulting the craft that she loves so much.
"It is with a clear mind and heavy heart that I extend my heartfelt apology. If I have offended any of you, I am sorry. If I've offended anyone you love, I take the blame. If any of you feel sorry for me, please don't. I built my own coffin of words and nailed it shut with insolence.
"Thank you for taking the time to read this. I don't expect to be forgiven, but I do hope my family is treated kindly.
Mabilis na nag-react si Ricci Chan, na lumabas sa hit stageplay na Care Divas, sa kanyang Facebook post tungkol sa "apology" ni Rafa.
Aniya, "Unfortunately, Mell, that apology was addressed to the Cinemalaya Directors' group email.
"Where's our apology? The one meant for the theatre actors he maligned?"
BEA'S LETTER. Para naman sa aktres ni Rafa sa kanyang first short film at personal nitong kaibigan na si Bea Garcia, halatang nanahimik muna ito sa kanyang posts in her Facebook account noong una.
Unang post/reaction ni Bea Garcia: "Yes, I was part of that film and am APPALLED at what has been said about theater actors! I am speechless."
After a few hours, may concerned friends si Bea, nagtatanong kung mapapatawad kaya ng mga tao si Rafa Santos sa inasal nito. Heto ang sagot ni Bea:
"Rafa is my good friend too and I am deeply hurt by what happened. Especially since I AM THE THEATER ACTOR in that film (no one else was from theater but me). So you can understand my shock and disappointment.
"While I do agree with you about forgiveness, I do think you cannot expect that from people right now. And just like any other action, this will not pass without its consequences.
"I feel bad for Raf, I really do. Because he is just starting and the whole theater industry has easily made him enemy number one. But he had it coming. Joke man yun o hindi, he still made those remarks.
"If he had respect and reverence for our craft, he would never have had been able to even joke about that.
"That being said, I want to say that I take offense in what was said and I did not work my butt off to get where I am today (not to say that I am a big star or anything)...
"But I did not devote my life to this craft only to be the object of such jokes and comments. I am hurt as Rafa's actress in that film, I am hurt as a friend. But most of all, I am deeply disturbed as an artist.
"I think that we should all take the time to be pissed, to be angry. We deserve that. And then, when were ready, let's move on... I think a few hours is hardly enough."
SKYFLAKES AND CATFOOD. Sa pag-amin ni Bea na kahit siya mismo, bilang lead actress ni Rafa, ay labis na nasaktan sa pangyayari, hindi pa rin tumigil ang dating ng comments ng maraming tao online.
Hanggang sa kinagabihan, June 28, sa kanya pa ring personal Facebook Account (under Notes section), sumulat na si Bea ng kanyang saloobin tungkol sa nasabing isyu.
Nakakaaliw na pinamagatan niya itong: "MY OFFICIAL STATEMENT ABOUT SKYFLAKES AND CATFOOD"
Narito ang kabuuan:
"I told myself that I would try to remain as quiet about the Rafa Santos issue as possible, but it seems as though people will always have questions about it, most especially to me because I was in fact the theater actress in his film.
"How do I feel? Insulted, disappointed, shocked, appalled, hurt and betrayed. And yes, I did confront Rafa about what he said. And although it would be interesting to share how the conversation went, I choose to hold that private as it was between the two of us.
"I think the bigger question for us now is, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS? Rafa may have joked about how we are treated as actors but I think the reason why the reaction from our sector is huge is because there is truth in it.
"Sure we are not paid in cat food and we actually eat rice and ulam on set during shoots, but it is a known fact that we do not expect high talent fees and will do things for the love. Now, is that really so bad?
"What I think we have is passion—passion for the work we do, passion for acting, passion for telling stories. And if we choose to accept jobs that pay low, it is no fault but our own and we should not blame anyone else. I for one have done 'probono' work to help people, or simply because the material is so good that I cannot let the opportunity of being part of it pass. Lines can be drawn.
"We can always choose the work we do, demand for higher pay, and demand that we be treated just like any other talent, celebrity status or not. After all, we are good at what we do and deserve no less than that.
"I think that this is a wake up call. A harsh one, but a call to action nonetheless. Now that we know the perception of people in the industry about theater actors in terms of rates and fees, we can work together in changing this paradigm. All we really need to do is assess our worth and accept no less than what we think we deserve.
"This is the last time I will write about this issue. I would personally like to move on from it. While in the future, I may forgive Rafa as a friend, I have made the decision not to work with him anymore. It just makes sense that way.
"I wish all of you theater actors, who have been so actively fighting against the catfood and Sky Flakes issue peace and more success. I admire your passion and this just makes me even more proud to be called a theater actor.
"And for the record? No, I was never paid in cat food and we were not fed Sky Flakes three times a day. Besides, I would never have accepted cat food. I am a dog owner, and I dislike cats."