Director Tikoy Aguiluz on the warpath with Metro Manila Filmfest

WE WERE highly privileged to visit maverick and good friend Director Tikoy Aguiluz on the set of  his shoot “Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story” with Laguna  Governor George “E.R. Estregan-Ejercito in the stellar role as Asiong.

The location was in Tanza, Cavite and the set was unmistakably a genuine recreation of one of Tondo’s outback armpits when Asiong Salonga’s name was then a household byword.

Charge it to brilliant production design and Aguiluz’ total control of the film at hand.

It was a big scene with ample gun shots, blood drippings, blastings and all. We got wind of the fight director at hand being an import which to say the least would make the recent version far better and one with world-class caliber considering that Director Aguiluz’ (yes, he is also the founder of the country’s prestigious annual Cinemanila International Film Festival) is an acclaimed, highly respected director who “walks his talk” when it comes to his craft as serious film artist (read: with balls to speak out his mind bereft of hypocrisy ) not only here but also in the international film community. Short of an urban legend in the making.

Add up to the film the highly sophisticated technology available and with the pool of good actors in the cast it would not be hard put to say that the previous Salonga versions of former Pres. Joseph Estrada (1961), Rudy Fernandez (1977) and even that of  George Estregan Jr. himself in 1990, would relatively  pale in comparison to the most recent version, call it oeuvre  of Director Aguiluz and Gov. Ejercito’s tandem. Make no mistake that the movie is all out to pander the beastly and the violent in us. There is moral lesson in its caveat emptor __ live by a gun and you die by a gun.

Except for Gov. Estregan who welcomes us at his office in Sta. Cruz, Laguna  on special occasions, we had great time re-connecting with top-of-the line actors on the set who we have not seen for sometime like Philip Salvador as Asiong Salonga’s brother, John Regala, Joko Diaz, Baron Geisler, etc.

In-between takes, Director Aguiluz let us in on his honest sentiments about his disappointment with the way the selection committee of the 37th Metro Manila Film Festival 2011 shortlisted the most-awaited version of Asiong Salonga from the rest of the entries.

I could feel Director Aguiluz is hurting some pain inside yet up to the present time caused by the filmfest committee’s way of not even informing him or Gov. Estregan formally of the specific reason(s) why of all entries Asiong Salonga was in a manner of speaking cancelled out from the final list of entries. Nothing short of judgment or trial by publicity.

Everything has become too arbitrary and fanciful on the part of the filmfest commit -tee to abuse the cliche of commercial viability as single criterion to either reject or accommodate an entry.

As if it is not public knowledge that there exists a Mafia of accommodation in the filmfest. To us Asiong Salonga per se is pre-sold to the collective consciousness of the mass-based audiences. To presume that the film is wanting in commercial viability is being biased, downright judgmental and lot of bull.

Director Aguiluz has not spoken the last words yet on this, but if he does we are sure he is not one to mince words. We told you he walks his talk. So beware he is on the warpath as yet.


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