MANILA, Philippines - Growing up in the idyllic, pre-Internet island province of Sibali (now Concepcion) in Romblon, Bon Labora was drawn to movies, specifically the Betamax then fashionable. Influenced by his mother, Herminia, a history teacher, he started collecting these and charging one peso each for those who wanted to view the films at his home.
“That was my first business,” he laughingly recalls.
That started him on the road to being, at least at a personal level, an archivist for films and other forms of art, entertainment and communication.
It became his passion.
At Sibali Academy, he directed plays. Later he took up Fine Arts major in Industrial Design (“a combination of arts and engineering”) at the University of Santo Tomas and in the United States even received a Ph.D honoris causa from an international academy in Oakland, U.S.A.
Bon became an educator, teaching advertising and industrial design at UST, Miriam College and now teaches at Shine Intervention, a SPED school; founded Agimat, a program to promote and market films and other forms of art and entertainment, and currently is a creative director at an advertising agency.
He is, you might say, a multidisciplinary artist. He has written, produced, directed and starred in indie films, and created an animation film. He acted as a policeman in Blood Bank, directed by Pam Miras, which won many awards abroad; and was production director for Paano Ko Sasabihin, starring Erich Gonzales and Enchong Dee, directed by Richard Legaspi.
In 2007, he wrote and directed Warrant, a film about extra- judicial killings.
Through all this time, through the years, the film arts buff kept on collecting films, short films, documentaries, posters, movie ads from newspapers, feature films still in Betamax form, and all sorts of materials and information pertaining to artists and their works, until he built up a substantial library at home.
“I had them digitized, high resolution,” he says. “It is important to archive these properly through digitals, to protect them, and also for easy accessibility. There are drama, fantasy, action movies and other genres.”
He adds: “It is important to pass this on to the next genera- tion. It is important for the next generation to know this; you never know what will be their reaction. Also, of course, share with this generation. Only a few people know… information for me is a treasure not to be kept but to share.”
At 40, and looking years younger, Bon is still following his dreams. The next big thing for him, if it can be realized, is a feature film shot in his hometown of Sibali-Concepcion, and in the language of his youth, Romblon-Binisaya. His production team (0920-9120341) is open to partnerships.