At long last, Chavit filmbio starts shoot
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo () - June 6, 2003 - 12:00am
At long last, the controversial and colorful filmbio of former Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson started shooting yesterday. Pre-production work, including research and writing of the script, took months as the filmbio covers several decades, from the ’50s to the present.

Big projects are nothing new to the Golden Lions couple, writer-director Carlo Caparas and producer Donna Villa, but the Chavit Singson movie is something else. Heard that the first day of shooting involved hundreds of extras and guns as it captured a bloody confrontation in Ilocos Sur between the Singson and Crisologo clans, incidentally blood relatives.

This particular confrontation circa 1969, when the President was an Ilocano, Ferdinand Marcos, was splashed on the front page of Manila Times, winning the Photo of the Year award.

Cesar Montano, fresh from doing a Hollywood film shot in Australia, The Great Raid, plays Chavit Singson, a role coveted by other actors. Dina Bonnevie is Mrs. Singson. The Crisologos are portrayed by Eddie Garcia as the patriarch, Congressman Floro Crisologo; Pinky de Leon as the matriarch, Gov. Carmeling Crisologo; and Tirso Cruz III as the son Bingbong Crisologo, currently Quezon City councilor and himself the subject of a filmbio topbilled by Rudy Fernandez.

The Chavit Singson movie is focused on the ’60s and ’70s, the height of the rivalry between the Singsons and Crisologos for political supremacy in Ilocos Sur, when guns ruled the land and blood literally flowed on the streets… and even inside a church. Congressman Crisologo was assassinated while hearing Mass at the Vigan Cathedral.

Recreating the ’60s and ’70s and gathering all those men armed to the teeth is some kind of a production nightmare, but then direk Carlo and Donna knew what they were getting into when they decided to do the Chavit Singson project. It’s something like a Filipino Godfather, a family saga written in blood and tears.

Never before has Carlo spent as much time in writing a script, holed up in Cebu, letting all those creative juices flow to give justice to the Chavit Singson story. Remember that Carlo has written hundreds of novels, earning him the title "King of Komiks Writers," but capturing the life and times of a celebrated contemporary figure proved to be a tough task.

Carlo has directed Cesar Montano in three films and he has no doubt that the award-winning actor will make a very credible and effective Chavit Singson.

For years, other producers and even top actors vied for the Chavit Singson project, but for one reason or the other the Ilocano politico nixed all offers to adapt his story for the big screen. Recent political developments made this story even more attractive to filmmakers. He felt it was high time he agreed, giving the project to the Golden Lions couple whose track record in doing true stories is beyond question.

Carlo and Donna are behind such powerful films as Vizconde Massacre, The Maggie de la Riva Story, Lipa Massacre, Myrna Diones, Cory Quirino. And even before those true stories, Carlo wrote and directed such moving action-drama as Pieta, Dugong Buhay, Kahit Ako’y Lupa, Ayaw Matulog ng Magdamag.

Expect direk Carlo to imbue the Chavit Singson filmbio with his "patented trade- mark" – raw, real. One can almost smell the blood and feel the pain inflicted by gunshots and imbibe the traits of the characters on the big screen. Cinema verite, the French call it.
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