UPDATED: Screenwriters Pete Lacaba and Ricky Lee comment on reports that "Manila" duplicates "Manila By Night" and "Jaguar"

PeteLacaba (left) and Ricky Lee (right) co-wrote Lino Brocka's 1979 masterpiece, Jaguar. This movie, which tackles thecountry's social problems, is being referred to, along with Ishmael Bernal's Manila By Night (1980), as the inspirationbehind the upcoming Piolo Pascual independent movie, Manila.

Recently, a tabloid article came out saying that highly respectedscriptwriters Pete Lacaba and Ricky Lee are "on the warpath" against directorsAdolf Alix Jr. and Raya Martin of the upcoming independent movie, Manila.

Thetwo-part indie film will feature matinee idol Piolo Pascual, who reportedly gotso thrilled with the project that he agreed to co-produce the film.

Ina previous interview, Adolf revealed that Piolo will be portraying two roles:William, a drug addict who is trying to restore his self-worth by re-establishinghis relationship with the people around him; and Philip, a bodyguard employed tolook over a mayor's son, only to be disillusioned in the end after a series ofunfortunate events lead him to discover the underworld.

Manila is said to be "inspired" by Ishmael Bernal's 1980 classic,Manila By Night and by Lino Brocka's1979 opus, Jaguar (slang for guwardiya, or security guard). Both films tackled the country's socialproblems, as vividly reflected on the cramped, seedy streets of Manila, and in the film noir about a securityguard trapped by malice and deception.

"Rayaand I feel that that the themes of both films [Manila By Night and Jaguar]are still relevant," explained Adolf, who co-wrote the script with RamonSarmiento, in an interview with PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) that was posted lastJune 17.

"Bothfilms also speak of how cruel the city can be to people... it's also about mentrying to belong and reconcile with their past."

Manila By Nightwas written and directed by Ishmael Bernal, with input on the script from RickyLee and other writers. Jaguar'sscreenplay is credited to both Ricky Lee and Pete Lacaba.

ETHICS ISSUE. In separate conversations with Lee and Lacaba, the two multi-awarded writers are in the dark about theextent of Manila By Night and Jaguar's influence on the indie film.

"Sana pinaalam man lang saamin," remarked Ricky Lee in a phone conversation with PEP yesterday morning, September 24. "Ang dami-dami kong naririnig and ang dami-daming nagtatanong saakin."


Interestingly,Adolf was a former student of Ricky Lee in his movie and television scriptwritingworkshop.

"Anguna ko pa namang tinuturo sa mga estudyante ko is ethics," he said.

"Numberone sa akin ‘yan, ang respeto sa mga kapwa mo manunulat, kasi mababa na nga angtingin sa mga scriptwriters dito sa atin, 'tapos may mga ganito ka pangmaririnig. Nakakalungkot."

Ricky said that Adolf did try to reach him—apologizingabout the issue—but only recently.

"Hindiko sinagot," Ricky Lee said. "Kasi hindi ko alam ang nararamdaman ko. Angtagal-tagal na nung pelikula [Manila],nasimulan na lahat, ipapalabas na lang, ang sa akin lang, bakit ngayon langsila nagsasabi?"

Lacaba, on the other hand, does not want to make a big issue out of the tabloid report, but he sees the need to sit down with fellow writers given the varying feedback that he and Ricky have been getting.

In an email he sent to PEP: "Ang pagkakaintindi ko,batay sa ilang items na lumabas sa diyaryo, ay 'inspired by' Jaguar angpelikulang ginagawa ni Adolf Alix. Hindi naman ito malaking isyu para sa akindahil ang Jaguar mismo ay masasabing 'inspired by' an article by Nick Joaquin, na ang pamagat ay 'The Boy Who Wanted to Become Society'.

"Ang pagkakakaalam naman ni Ricky, batay sa natanggapniyang impormasyon, ay 'based on' Jaguar ang pelikulang ginagawa ni Adolf—ibigsabihin, gagamitin ang pamagat ng pelikula at pati ilang tauhan mula sapelikulang kami ni Ricky ang scriptwriters. Kaya, kako, kailangangmagkausap-usap kami nina Ricky and Adolf tungkol dito, para magkalinawan kungano nga ba."

PEP received a text message from Adolf this morning, September 26, informing us that he is currently in Thailand for the Bangkok Film Festival, where his 2007 indie picture, Tambolista, is one of the participating films. He'll be back on Sunday, September 28.





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