PART 1 Marilou Diaz-Abaya looks forward to receiving a special award at PMPC’s 28th Star Awards for Movies

Director Marilou Diaz-Abaya on making movies: "I keep telling my students, ’You know, try to make films that will not only make money, or will give you a trophy.’ How many people know that Martin Scorsese has only one trophy? Perhaps nobody. Or Glenn Close? I think, wala pa. Nobody knows. Wala siyang [Glenn] award, ’day!" she says. How many people know that? You see? But you remember her films! So, I said, ’You make


Noted filmmaker Marilou Diaz-Abaya was in high spirits nang sadyain ng PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) para sa isang panayam, kaugnay ng igagawad na parangal ng Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC), sa okasyon ng 28th Star Awards for Movies, sa March 14, 2012, sa Meralco Theater.

Si Direk Marilou ang recipient ng isang special award, ang "Ulirang Alagad ng Pelikula sa Likod ng Kamera."

Nang hapong yun, sa kanyang condo unit, sa Shaw Blvd., in Mandaluyong City, ay buong siglang nagpa-interview si Direk Marilou.

Kasama niya sa tinitirhang condo ang asawang si Manolo Abaya, ace cinematographer and advertising man.

Nasa isa ring palapag ng condo building ang units na tinutuluyan ng dalawa nilang anak, sina Marco at David, na pareho nang kabilang sa industriya (bilang aktor at cinematographer, respectively) at ang mga magulang ni Direk Marilou.

"Tingnan mo, ang appetite ko—it is so good!" natutuwang banggit ni Direk Marilou sa simula ng panayam.

Magana siyang kumain din ng inihaing palabok at iced tea, para sa dumating na bisita.

Batid ng publiko at mga tagasubaybay sa industriya, na si Direk Marilou, sa ngayon, ay may sakit na cancer.

Nasa stage 4 na ang kanyang karamdaman.

Pero kung titingnan si Direk Marilou, hindi pa rin nagbabago ang kanyang pisikal na anyo.

Hindi siya pinapayat, o pinapangit ng chemotherapy.

At napaka-sharp pa rin ng memory niya. She recalled anecdotes about personages and situations na ibinabahagi niya sa mahigit na isang oras na panayam. Hindi nga apektado ng chemo ang kanyang memorya.

"Not in my case; wala sa brain ko, e," pagtukoy niya.

"This new chemo [also] doesn’t make me lose my hair. Nalalagas lang nang konti.

"Iba-ibang klase; there are hundreds of different chemos, and some [of them] you will really lose your hair."

Patuloy ni Direk Marilou: "Nu’ng nag-stage 4 ako [in 2010], ibang chemo yung ginagamit nila. Pero, for life na ’yon. Every three weeks.

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"Kaya may calendar yung chemo. More or less, nakikita ko kung saan ako okay.

"So, nu’ng sinabi ni Nonong [Buencamino, Marilou’s assistant] sa akin, ’Wait... ah, chemo-free week [ang March 14], parang Ok yun sa Star [Awards]!"

TUMOR MARKERS. Sa pagpapatuloy ng kuwento ni Direk Marilou ay higit niyang naipaunawa, sa PEP.ph, at mga kasamang manunulat (Julie Bonifacio at Roldan Castro, ng PMPC) ang kumplikasyon ng pagiging isang cancer patient.

Regular treatment ang ginagawa ngayon sa kilalang direktor.

"Yeah... [pero] wala akong pain. Breast [cancer] na...nasa liver, bone. I’m stage 4, e," pagtukoy pa ni Direk Marilou.

"Then, sa stomach [may kumplikasyon din]. Nu’ng month ni Mama Mary [supposedly in August] last [2010] they gave me 6 months [to live]—[until] January of last year [2011].

"So, February, andiyan na yung trahe ko, e," casual pang banggit pa ni Marilou. "I’m done with the Jesuits [religious order]. I’m prepared for it.

"Tapos, ay tumagal!" natawa si Direk Marilou.

"From 900, bagsak nang bagsak, hanggang bumagsak [nang todo]!"

Marilou was referring to her "tumor markers" na maganda ang pahiwatig pag may "pagbagsak" na naitatala ang mga doktor.

"’Yung cancer cells mismo," aniya. "Thank God, I’m not really in pain.

"Nu’ng showing ng Ikaw Ang Pag-ibig [last September, 2011], bumagsak talaga siya, hanggang December!

"Then, nagre-respite. Ngayon, pumanhik na naman nang konti," sabi ni Direk Marilou.

"But cancer is like that. You have to live with it.

"Ang feeling mo lang, para ka lang nag-gym, nu’ng sumobra yung [pagdyi]-gym, sumobrang pagod. O kaya, it’s fatigue. Yung akin, ha."

But people have misinformation, or misimpressions, about cancer patients who undergo chemotheraphy treatments.

"Some cannot take it at all. After one [session] lang, hindi na nila kaya."

LOOKING FORWARD. Direk Marilou is looking forward to the PMPC event, na tatanggap siya ng special award.

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"Yeah, chemo-free ako on that week [March 11-17, 2012]; sabi ko kay ’Nong, I have to make allowances."

Ang premyadong musical director/film scorer, Nonong Buencamino, ang kasalukuyang tagapamahala sa propesyon ni Direk Marilou.

"Just in case, katulad nang nangyari today, I’ll just bring a bon-bon [chair] somewhere, I’m sure I’ll be fine," nakangiting sambit pa ng direktora.

"But don’t ask them to change the schedule, ’kako!" natawa si Direk Marilou.

"Oo, no, no, no, no... I’ll be the one to adjust. I’ll be the one."

Sabi ng PMPC ay maaaring agahan ng Airtime Marketing, Inc. (headed by Ms. Tessie Celestino-Howard, producer of the event) ang bahagi ng programa na laan sa special award ni Direk Marilou.

"No, ganu’n din yun, e. Just in case, I’ll have to stay, anyway," wika pa ni Direk Marilou, na ipinagmamalaki din ang ginawang digital film noong isang taon, ang Ikaw Ang Pag-Ibig, a religious family drama, na nakumpleto niya at naitanghal (full commercial run), sa kabila ng kanyang karamdaman.

DIRECTOR AND TEACHER. As an afterthought, may hiniling bigla si Direk Marilou sa umi-interbyu sa kanya.

"Ay, sa invitation n’yo pala, nakasulat sa akin, ’Producer,’" sabi ni Direk.

"Puwede bang mag-request? Well, I am... usually, ang item ko: [as] Director, Teacher, Writer and Producer."



Partikular ang pagiging isa niyang guro, o educator, na nagturo sa Ateneo de Manila Film School, ang nais i-emphasize ni Direk Marilou.



"Teaching, when I was a little girl, that was what I wanted to do," aniya.



"I love teaching. Yung driver at yaya ko, pinapaupo ko, after class, tapos, ’Makinig kayo sa akin!’" sasabihin daw niya.



"Kung anu-ano ang itinuturo ko, may malaki akong blackboard," pagre-recall pa ni Direk Marilou, na nag-aral sa mga eksklusibong paaralang pambabae (tulad ng St. Theresa’s at Assumption College), eventually graduating with a degree in AB Communication Arts.

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Sa ibang bansa naman nagpatuloy ng kanyang graduate courses si Direk Marilou: Master of Arts in Film and Television, sa Loyola Marymount University, sa L.A,. noong 1978; at sa London International Film School, noon ding 1978, ang pagpapatuloy at pagtatapos ng kanyang kurso sa Film.



Eventually, naging film director agad si Marilou Diaz-Abaya, sa pagbabalik niya sa bansa.



That was in 1979, at sinimulan niyang idirek ang isang melodrama, Tanikala (base sa komiks nobela ng yumaong Pablo S. Gomez), para sa Cine Filipinas outfit.



Pero ang pagiging isang guro, o educator, ay nananatiling nakatatak sa pagkatao ni Direk Marilou.



"When I came back to the Philippines, from abroad, the first thing I did was already to teach a [film course] at the Ateneo.



"Taong 1980 pa lang. Kaya si Jeffrey Jeturian [now an award-winning TV-movie director], at yung yumaong si Judy Lou de Pio, mga una kong estudyante.



"Marami sila. Until all the way... Quark [Henares] was my student," banggit din ni Direk Marilou sa kilalang indie filmmaker.



"So, from 1980 up to now, I never stopped teaching," diin pa ni Direk Marilou.



"Actually, kami ni Ricky Lee lang. Si Ricky... started, nung 1980 rin, e. Kung minsan, we collaborate [as writer-director]," banggit pa ng direktor.

Ang memorable collaborative films ni Marilou with the Palanca Prize-winning, multi-awarded screenwriter-novelist, Ricky Lee, ay kabilang ngayon sa mga klasikong pelikulang Pilipino.



Mga pelikulang, tulad ng Brutal (1980), Moral (1982), Karnal (1983)... hanggang sa epic biofilm on our national hero, Jose Rizal (1998), at Bagong Buwan (2001), among many others, ay maituturing na ngang "classic masterpieces."



Bukod kay Ricky Lee, nakipag-collaborate din si Marilou Diaz-Abaya sa iba pang premyadong manunulat-pampelikula, tulad nina Amado Lacuesta (Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo, 1992), Jun Lana (Sa Pusod Ng Dagat, 1998); at Rolando Tinio, the late National Artist for Literature, (Milagros, 1997)."



HER FILM SCHOOL. Nagbahagi rin si Direk Marilou ng mga impormasyon tungkol sa Film School na itinatag niya at kasalukuyang pinangunguluhan, ang Marilou Diaz-Abaya Film Institute (MDAFI).

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"We’re already merging with ABS-CBN. So it’s now ABS-CBN-MDAFI," banggit ni Marilou.

"Whatever happens to me, sila ang magpapatuloy [ng film school], kasi si Malou [Santos], ever since my Ateneo days, has been obsessed with educating [future film artists].

"So, yun. Nagustuhan nina Malou, nina Charo [Santos-Concio, current ABS-CBN President], Gabby Lopez [owner of the Kapamilya network].



Ito raw ang maiiwang legacy ni Direk Marilou.

"Yeah, para sa mga bago [na direktor]. Ang dami, almost all the... sina Malou Sevilla, Rechie [Del Carmen], Dado Lumibao, Enrico Santos.



"I continue to mentor... sina Olive [Lamasan], Rory [Quintos], Cathy [Garcia-Molina]. Hilig ko talagang magturo.



"And I was so relieved, so grateful about the school, nang naayos na, na-conclude na yung agreement namin, with ABS-CBN.



"It will be open also to technicians... and, sabi ko, ano namang mangyayari sa mga tao na hindi naman ’digitally-trained’?



"Hindi natin ’yan ginawa nu’ng nag-aral tayo, kaya tayo nawalan ng napakaraming workers.



"This time, let’s learn from our mistakes. Isama naman natin yung, you know... itawid naman natin yung puwede nating isama.

"Let’s expand, hindi lang film directing, to include all the seven arts; writing, casting, production design," sambit pa ni Direk Marilou.



NANA ROSA, THE MOVIE. Sa kanyang paghahanda sa "kaganapan" ng kanyang buhay, nakakalungkot mang isipin, ay may mga projects na sana ay gagawin ni Direk Marilou, pero hindi na niya magagawa.



"Ikaw Ang Pag-Ibig is my last film. It’s my swan song," aniya.

Ang nasabing digital film ay isang religious family drama, para sa 300th anniversary of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, sa Naga City (Camarines Sur).

Bidang artista rito sina Ina Feleo (Laurice Guillen’s actress-daughter) at Jomari Yllana, with Marvin Agustin, Eddie Garcia, and real-life couple Shamaine Centenera and Nonie Buencamino.



At binanggit nga ni Direk Marilou ang mga bagong project na katuwang na lamang siya sa pagre-reseach at pagsulat ng screenplay.

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"I wish Olive [Lamasan] would direct John Lloyd Cruz, in Juan Luna [biofilm on the great Filipino painter], which I’m researching on, and co-writing with Ricky Lee.



"O, yung Nana Rosa, ipinamana ko na yun kay Rory Quintos," wika pa ni Marilou.



Ang Nana Rosa, base sa totoong kuwento ni Nana Rosa Henson, na naging "comfort woman" noong panahon ng Second World War sa Pilipinas, ay laan para kay Vilma Santos, na ididirek sana ni Ishmael Bernal.



"Hindi na si Ate Vi [ang gaganap]. Hahanap sila ng bagong artista for Nana Rosa.



"They wanted me to direct [these projects], ipinamamana ko na kina Olive at Rory.



"Next year, God-willing, I was supposed to direct it, but nu’ng nag-stage 4 ako [last year, after the premiere of Ikaw Ang Pag-Ibig], I told Ricky, ’Isulat mo na, ako ang magre-research...’



"’Wag kang matakot. Tapos, sabi ko, ’Olive, it’s time for you to do something like this. You do this...’

"She’s ripe na, e," sabi pa ni Direk Marilou.



On her part, nakasulat na rin ng dalawang libro si Direk Marilou, habang nasa kundisyong "unreliable" ang kanyang health condition.



"The first one is Moonlit Seasons and then, Reefs of Paradise. Both [about] underwater ’yan," banggit pa niya.



Magku-collaborate din daw sila ni Ricky Lee para sa isang "Double Memoir" na tala ng marami nilang pagsasama sa iba’t ibang proyekto at mga taong naging bahagi niyon.



LEGACY. Lastly, maging ang tatanggaping parangal, bilang "Ulirang Alagad ng Pelikula sa Likod ng Kamera," sa 28th Star Awards for Movies ng PMPC ay ibinibilang niyang "pamana" sa kanyang mga followers, o estudyante.



"For me it’s really an honor. But the first thing that came to my mind, nung sinabi sa akin ang tungkol [sa award] was not really me.



"I said, ’Ay, maybe it will be remembered by the students I’ll leave behind.

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"Kasi, I keep telling my students, ’You know, try to make films that will not only make money, or will give you a trophy.’



"How many people know that Martin Scorsese has only one trophy? Perhaps nobody. Or Glenn Close? I think, wala pa. Nobody knows. Wala siyang [Glenn] award, ’day!



"How many people know that? You see? But you remember her films!



"So, I said, ’You make films not for the trophies. You make films that you hope will be remembered...’



"So, nung sinabi sa akin about this award, I said, ’Nongski [Nonong Buencamino], you cooperate with them, help with whatever else they need...’

At sa kanyang doktor, sabi ni Direk Marilou, "Sabi ko, [Doc] Francis, this one’s very important to me because these people really work hard for the industry. Can you give me a booster?’

"And he told me, ’Just take your vitamin B.’

"I think with that arrangement, everything is okay!" masayang sambit pa ni Direk Marilou.





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