Missing Marilou Diaz-Abaya

LIVE FEED - Bibsy M. Carballo - The Philippine Star

While on the plane bound for Tokyo, our thoughts wandered to that sole city we had ever visited in Japan which was Fukuoka, in the company of Sharmaine Arnaiz and the late Marilou Diaz-Abaya. A multi-awarded Filipino film director, she was the founder and president of the Marilou Diaz-Abaya Film Institute and Arts Center, a film school based in Antipolo City. She was best known for having directed the 1998 film José Rizal, a biographical film on the Philippines’ National Hero.

Marilou directed and released her first feature film, Tanikala (Chains), in 1980. She went on to become one of the most active and visible directors in Philippine cinema. Her early films Brutal, Karnal (Of the Flesh) and Alyas Baby Tsina sharply condemned the oppressive social system during the administration of then Philippine Pres. Ferdinand Marcos.

She produced television programs that reflected the many social and political problems that needed attention in order to attain social reform. Marilou admitted to having used her work as a tool to uphold, promote and protect the state of democracy in the Philippines. In 1995, she again directed films, beginning with the release of Ipaglaban Mo (Redeem Her Honor). She continued directing such films as May Nagmamahal Sa Iyo (Madonna and Child), Sa Pusod Ng Dagat (In the Navel of the Sea) and Muro Ami (Reef Hunters). Her body of work was a continuous examination of difficult social problems in the country, often dealing with the lives of the Filipino poor, women and children who struggle to survive under harsh conditions.



A Japanese award-giving body described her body of work to be “harmoniously blending entertainment, social consciousness and ethnic awareness.” Marilou was the 2001 Laureate of the Fukuoka Prize for Culture and the Arts in Japan and won numerous directing awards from all award-giving bodies in the Philippines.

She was an active film and TV producer and director, was a director of the Film Development Council of the Philippines, the president of the Marilou Diaz-Abaya Film Institute and Arts Center and Dive Solana, Inc., a film instructor at the Ateneo de Manila University, a trustee of the Jesuit Communications Foundation and the AMANU Media Apostolate, and a member of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement for Peace, the Artists for Peace, the Mothers for Peace and the World Association of Psycho-Socio Rehabilitation.

Marilou directed at least 21 full-length feature films which included internationally-exhibited films with English titles and subtitles. Other films included Moral  written by Ricky Lee, starring Lorna Tolentino, Gina Alajar, Sandy Andolong, Ana Marin and Laurice Guillen; Sensual (Of the Senses); Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo; Ipaglaban Mo, The Movie; and Milagros, a film written by Rolando Tinio, which starred Sharmaine at the time of our visit to the Fukuoka Film Festival.

Marilou is one artist and friend we shall miss for her laughter in the midst of pain. We will never forget how she battled the cancer that was eating up her body. She tried every solution given her by advisers including learning how to swim which seemed to have helped extend her life. Thank you, Marilou, for all you have done to make life better for all of us.

(E-mail your comments to [email protected] or text me at 0917-8991835.)












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