Will Rachel run again in 2019?

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star
Will Rachel run again in 2019?

MTRCB chief Rachel Arenas: I serve at the pleasure of Pres. Du30. If he tells me to run, then...

The mid-term election is more than 15 months away and already, names are being thrown around, mostly those in the Du30 Administration, as intending to run for this and that opposition.

During a recent lunch with movie writers close to her, MTRCB (Movie and Television Review and Classification Board) chief Rachel Arenas was asked what her plans for 2019 were.

“Nothing definite,” said Rachel. “I serve at the pleasure of Pres. Du30. It’s up to him. If he tells me to run, if he tells me that he needs more people to help in another capacity, then I will. But,” she added, “I want to make it clear that when the President appoints you to a position in government, he reminds you not to use your position because you want to run.”

Rachel has actually served as representative of Pangasinan, the position now being held by her mom, Rosemarie “Baby” Arenas. But if given a chance to, as Rachel put it, “help more people, why not?”

In September, Rachel will mark her first anniversary as MTRCB chief (term is renewable every year) and, so far, her record is more than satisfactory. Industry people are giving her a thumbs-up.

Said Rachel, “Let’s not give the industry a hard time,” which doesn’t mean that the MTRCB should be lenient. “The industry and the MTRCB should be partners, not adversaries.”

Initially, Rachel recalled that she and her members were kind of nagpa-pakiramdaman (feeling around).

Rachel (seated, center) during a lunch with friend movie writers (back row, from left): Tessa Mauricio-Arriola, Salve Asis, Jojo Gabinete, Isah Red, Ronald Constantino, Gorgy Rula, Noel Ferrer and Your Funfarer; and (seated) MTRCB exec lawyer Ana Nemenzo (left) and Lolit Solis.

“Look,” she pointed out, “I am dealing with 30 members na iba‘t-iba ang character, iba’t-iba ang attitude, iba’t-iba ang outlook sa buhay at iba’t-iba ang opinion. As a congresswoman, I also had to deal with all kinds of people, sari-saring tao ang nakakasalamuha ko. So I told myself, I would be okay with 30 people,” some of whom are from the industry, among them Gladys Reyes, Bibeth Orteza, Tessie Villarama, Paolo Santos, Moymoy Palaboy and Dennis Padilla, minus Philippine STAR columnist Mocha Uson who quit after Pres. Du30 appointed her as assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) headed by Martin Andanar. “It was because the appointment was not done in a bunch but one at a time.”

When she assumed office, everything was in order (thanks to previous MTRCB heads like now-Sen. Grace Poe and Toto Villareal).

“As I said in my first interviews, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. There wasn’t anything that needed to be changed but there are things that should be improved.”

On a recent trip to Busan, Rachel observed how the Korean Media Rating Board (KMRB) worked.

“They have a different system,” noted Rachel. “Did you know that they review some 2,200 films a year? It’s a daunting task. They employ sub-committees to help in the review. As it is, we cannot do that because only the 30 MTRCB members are authorized by law to do the reviewing. With the introduction of the DTT (Digital Threshold Television), can you imagine the big task ahead of us?”

The MTRCB chief doesn’t actually participate in the review and only breaks ties when that happens in the rating done by three groups (A, B and C), and sits down with them to discuss the movie in question. But as a juror in the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), Rachel had to watch all the official entries.

“My favorite was Deadma Walking,” she said. “It’s very interesting, fun to watch.”

And also Ang Larawan, the Best Picture winner, for sentimental reasons. The musical was based on A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino, the classic play by Nick Joaquin.

“Nick Joaquin was the first cousin of Lolo Alfredo (Jimenez), my mom’s father,” said Rachel. “He was writing my mom’s biography. Before he passed away, he sat with my mom every Saturday for almost a year. He died before he finished writing the book. The manuscripts are with my mom.”

(E-mail reactions at [email protected]. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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