Benilde Silver Jubilee film breaks barriers

LIVE FEED - Bibsy M. Carballo - The Philippine Star

If the name Gabby Fernandez is already a familiar one as actor, production designer, writer and director, the wheels of fame and fortune continue turning in his favor as his film Mana has been chosen to mark the Silver Jubilee of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.

Known to espouse innovative projects, Gabby started his media career by joining Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes as art director in the film Magic Kingdom for Viva Films in 1997. This was followed by Gangland, then Puso ng Pasko in 1998, after which he worked as Production Designer on Ang Kabit ni Mrs. Montero for Viva Films in 1999.He also was acting coach for the Gallaga-Reyes team-up on Unfaithful Wife 2 and Sa Piling ng Aswang where he co-wrote the screenplay.

In a short chat with him over the telephone, Gabby spoke of Mana (Inheritance), a full-length version of his short, nominated by the picky critics group, the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, in the Gawad Urian Awards. A nomination from the group considered the Philippine counterpart of the New York Film Critics Circle, is enough cause for rejoicing. Mana is Gabby’s second full-length film and his most ambitious.

Gabby’s first film was Nasaan si Francis (Where is Francis) produced in 2006 by Unitel Pictures which combines farce and comedy with drug dealing, a difficult combination as it is.

Paolo Contis is struggling to save girlfriend Tanya Garcia from the prostitution lair of Rio Locsin. Paolo and Rico Blanco visit Epi Quizon (in the title role of Francis). Epi is a drug dealer, Christopher “Boyet” de Leon is a drug pusher. Unexpectedly, Epi suffers from a heart attack and dies. Instead of reporting the incident, Paolo and Rico hide his body while searching the house for tablets of Ecstasy they plan to sell. Chaos ensues when Tanya, Epi’s family and Boyet find out about his death.

It is obvious that even then, on his first film project, Gabby was already trekking down uncharted roads. He was also carefully picking a cast that was to become recognized several years later for their acting talent. Nasaan si Francis had in its cast not only Epi, Rio, Rivermaya frontman Rico Blanco and Boyet, but also Ricky Davao, Angel Aquino, Rita Avila, Julia Clarete, Michael de Mesa, Mark Gil, Tanya Garcia. Many of them would also be in the cast of Gabby’s current film project Mana.

In Mana, direk Gabby says, he aims to portray how the fictional Villareals of Negros think. He will show how the internal dynamics in such political dynasties work, how love and memories join up with power, influence and superstition. The film bares how Visayan folklore influences their mode of thinking. When confronted with the death of a matriarch, they are forced to face long-delayed decisions, confrontations and debts, as well as the coming-together of all their collective fears.

As in Nasaan si Francis, Gabby brings together in Mana the most brilliant of veteran actors like Tetchie Agbayani, Cherie Gil, Mark Gil, Epi Quizon, Ricky Davao, Jaime Fabregas and Fides Cuyugan-Asensio as the dying matriarch. Other significant roles feature Dwight Gaston, Archie Adamos, Bart Guingona, Leo Rialp, Joe Gruta, Joel Saracho and Rene Durian. 

We ask Gabby if he wasn’t afraid of presenting an aspect of Filipino life largely unfamiliar to the general population. Precisely why it must be done, Gabby answers. He tells us, he is guided by what the late Alexis Tioseco wrote saying, “I wish someone, anyone, would make a good thought-provoking film about the Philippine upper class.”

As we put down the phone, we start pondering on what Gabby had said. Indeed, our films and television shows all deal with the common tao and their heart wrenching stories of poverty, lack of education and injustice. Are these more appealing since they make us cry more? What about the upper class who have stories of their own? Wouldn’t it be possible for them to have their own heartbreaks, larger problems we cannot even imagine? Wouldn’t that be equally as thought-provoking?

(E-mail your comments to [email protected].)

vuukle comment










  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with