Lito a hero to his own kind
() - September 17, 2001 - 12:00am
It takes a stuntman to love a stuntman. Lest you think this is a story about abnormal relationships, it’s not.

It’s all about how King of Stunts Lito Lapid’s heart bleeds for the many stuntmen facing hard times these days because of the slump the movie industry is facing.

His questions are many, coming as they are in rapid-fire fashion.

What happened to the money the Mowelfund has supposedly allotted for stuntmen? Is anyone auditing it? Why do stuntmen go to lead actors (like Lito) when they need money for hospitalization? What is the Actors Guild doing about it?

The Pampanga governor can’t help but ask these questions aloud when he met a huddle of press people at the office of Regal Films, producer of his latest movie, Bukas Babaha ng Dugo.

So bothered is Lito about the plight of stuntmen, he is willing to look formally into the problem "if the President (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) authorizes me."

Like, he’s willing to conduct an audit of Mowelfund, just to find out exactly where the stuntmen’s share of Metro Manila Filmfest earnings go year after year.

"If the stuntmen meet an accident, they can’t work. That’s why we should give them a source of livelihood," Lito adds.

Here is one guy who won’t forget his roots and is even proud of it. And why not?

They have not only elicited oohs and aahs from a moviegoing public driven to the edge of their seats, they have also brought Lito respect and recognition as one of the country’s most enduring action stars.

Lito hang from a helicopter hovering thousands of feet above sea level in that epic film Aginaldo.

"I almost slipped and would’ve fallen on the ocean below," he recalls.

Except that this guy knows something amateur stuntmen don’t: timing.

It’s everything he tells you.

"One blink of an eye and you’re a goner," says Lito. This is the reason why so many stuntmen meet accidents year after year. They don’t bother to practise on their own, or replay the scene over and over in their minds.

Lito is luckier, though. He has trained in the same place in Hong Kong, where Jackie Chan learned the ABCs of stunts.

This does not mean though, that Lito has become smug or overconfident. He knows his limit.

"I don’t do a stunt I can’t execute," he says.

This is the same advice he is giving his son, Mark, now that he has decided to follow in his Dad’s footsteps. Except that Dad wants his son not only to be like him, but to surpass his accomplishments, to boot.

"I told him he should surpass whatever I’ve achieved," says Lito.

But although he is proud of Mark ("We have yet to come up with a young action star"), Lito is careful not to spoil his son in this department.

Now that Mark is all set to shoot Dugong Aso with Kristine Hermosa, Lito wants his son to shine on his merit, not on the fact that he is the offspring of an action star.

When someone suggested molding Mark as "the next Lito Lapid," the action star said no, his son should have an identity of his own.

It’s harder, yes, but more fulfilling.

Besides, people who worked hard to get to where they are now value success more. They are always up on their toes – sharpening their skills further, never resting until they reach the peak of excellence.

Lito’s quest for more excitement in his career never ends. His wish list is formidable. Lito wants to play Police Senior Superintendent Reynaldo Berroya (once the raging controversy in the military dies down, that is). After working with such big names as Fernando Poe Jr. and Dolphy, Lito now wants to make a film with Sharon Cuneta, Lorna Tolentino and Judy Ann Santos.

Politics aside (he insists he’s not aware of talks that he will give up his post as governor in exchange for a Cabinet office), Lito will always be an actor whose heart that goes out for the long-suffering, oft-ignored stuntmen he considers his brothers in the profession.

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