Mother Lily, direk Elwood honored in Cinema One Awards
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - November 19, 2013 - 12:00am

In the souvenir-program article of the 2013 Cinema One Originals Festival Awards, writer Eduardo Dayao described director Elwood Perez, one of the two Tribute honorees (with Regal matriarch Mother Lily Monteverde), “as the least conservative and the more wildly experimental (among) his peers,” a journeyman  who has “a propensity to play around with structure, not to mention his gleeful embrace of the indie guerilla shooting tactics way before it became fashionable.”

Asked over lunch at Cerchio restaurant yesterday what that superlative meant (that compared his 1985 film Silip as, ehem, “comparable to less than Pier Paolo Pasoloni”), Elwood, still heady from the honor bestowed on him and the other winners Saturday night at Dolphy Theater, was initially speechless.

During his almost four decades (inclusive of times when he went on a sabbatical which he spent reading books on films and watching DVDs of old movies) as director, Elwood established himself as one of the industry’s finest artists. His body of work (starting with Blue Boy starring Fred Cortez Jr. in the early ‘70s and book-ended by Otso which was one of the 12 entries in the recent All Masters Edition of Sineng Pambansa sponsored by the Film Development Council of the Philippines) more than qualified him for the COOFA tribute.

“I have worked with the industry’s best actors,” noted Elwood as he went down Memory Lane, among them Vilma Santos, Nora Aunor, Gabby Concepcion, Charito Solis, Gloria Romero, Eddie Gutierrez, Christopher de Leon, Robert Arevalo, Gina Pareño, Amalia Fuentes, Vic Vargas, Nida Blanca, Pilar Pilapil, Liza Lorena and Boots Anson-Roa. “Did you know,” he continued, “that I was the one who first used the word ‘bold’ to market a movie? In the blurb for Isang Gabi, Tatlong Babae, I put ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the boldest of them all?,’ referring to the stars, Amalia, Boots and Pilar.”

He’s also credited for successfully re-launching the careers of some actresses: Gina Alajar in Diborsyada, Cherie Gil in Problem Child, Rio Locsin in Disgrasyada (and also Stepsisters with Lorna Tolentino) and the late Claudia Zobel in Shame, all produced by Regal Films.

“I love Mother Lily,” said Elwood. “She spoiled me by letting me have a free rein of my movies. Hindi niya pinaki-alaman kung ano ang gusto kong gawin. Another producer who spoiled me was Manay Ichu (Marichu Maceda) for whose company I did several films including Paraisong Parisukat and Bawal: Asawa Mo, Asawa Ko. The best times of my life in movies were with Regal.”

Elwood’s only regret is not having worked with Susan Roces (who would have starred in the Elwood’s abortive project titled Mga Ulilang Anghel). Actually, he has a project prepared for Susan (“Confidential,” he reminded Funfare) and he hoped that it would be pushed through “before I die,” Elwood, who’s turning 68 in February next year, said half-jokingly. “Ma-afford ko kaya ang TF (Talent Fee) ni Susan?”

Incidentally, Funfare also asked Elwood for clarification why he quit as director of the Viva movie Trophy Wife (starring Derek Ramsay, Cristine Reyes and Heart Evangelista).

“Mahirap naman mag-comment,” said Elwood who has been replaced by Andoy Ranay after shooting for 12 days, with 70 percent of the scenes discarded according to a Viva source (prompting Heart to say, “Sayang, I gave my all in those scenes”). “Mayroon silang sariling thrust which may be different from mine,” added Elwood who “owns” the title, the story and the concept which Viva is free to use.

Beyond that, Elwood was mum, perhaps knowing that his laurels don’t rest on one abortive project, thank heavens!

(Note: Through Funfare, Elwood wants to thank some people whom he forgot to mention in his acceptance during the awards night, including Jose Javier Reyes who was Elwood’s scriptwriter in Problem Child, his 90-year-old father Pedro Esguerra Perez, Ramon Amar who took care of Elwood when he was a kid, FDCP chairman Briccio Santos, Gloria Diaz and Anita Linda who praised him in taped tribute, and Mother Lily.)

Mother Lily: Movies more

precious than diamonds

Meanwhile, Regal Matriarch Mother Lily Monteverde, called “Mother of a Movie Empire” in the Tribute, says it all in her thank-you speech:

My friends, thank you very much for this honor.

Being among the winners of the Philippine Cinema Originals award is an inspiration.

It encourages me to keep producing, in spite of the difficulties and challenges in our beloved film industry.

Our country is facing all sorts of problems — both natural and man-made. In these troubled times, movies give our countrymen a refuge from the harsh realities of life.

As you all know, I am a movie fan at heart. More than a producer, I am a lover of movies.

This award is special because it celebrates the movies of Regal Films which I consider more precious than diamonds.

These movies allowed me to collaborate with some of the best filmmakers of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s: Ishmael Bernal, Lino Brocka, Mario O’Hara, Joey Gosiengfiao, Maryo J. de los Reyes, Mike de Leon, Joel Lamangan, Mel Chionglo, Peque Gallaga and Elwood Perez who is being honored tonight as well.

Working with these artists has allowed me to grow as a producer and as a person. I am grateful to them for giving me the opportunity to produce these screen classics that I can now share with a new generation of viewers who watch Cinema One.

Movies, like diamonds, last forever.

For as long as there are fans who love to watch movies, producers like me will be here, providing them with movies that entertain and enlighten, delight and disturb.

For this is our role as moviemakers, to give our people the chance to confront their fears, fulfill their fantasies and overcome their limitations, through the power of cinema.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for this award which I will treasure for the rest of my life.

(E-mail reactions at You may also send your questions to For more updates, photos and videos visit or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.) PHOTOS by VER PAULINO

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