Carlo J. Caparas airs side on controversial visit to Silawan wake
Karla Rule (The Freeman) - March 22, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Netizens came for director Carlo J. Caparas after smiling photos of him visiting the wake of 16-year-old Christine Lee Silawan surfaced online.

Seen posing alongside engineer Rolando Patalinjug at the teenager’s wake in Sitio Soong Barangay Mactan, Lapu-Lapu City on March 15, Caparas drew flak from netizens who called out the screenwriter and comic strip creator for his disrespect and insensitivity.

On March 11, Silawan was found lifeless and barely recognizable in a vacant lot in Sitio Mahayahay, Barangay Bankal, Lapu-Lapu City. The skin on half of her face had been ripped off, while her neck was badly damaged.

Silawan’s death was met with nationwide outrage, with the public demanding justice be served at once and President Rodrigo Duterte himself calling for a speedy probe on the brutal killing.

It’s been speculated that the director is considering making a movie out of the tragedy, since Caparas is known for making massacre films the likes of “The Vizconde Massacre,” “The Cecilia Masagca Story: Antipolo Massacre (Jesus Save Us!),” “The Lipa ‘Arandia’ Massacre: Lord, Deliver Us from Evil,” “The Lilian Velez Story: Till Death Do Us Part,” “Humanda Ka Mayor!: Bahala na ang Diyos” and “The Maggie dela Riva Story (God… Why Me?),” to name a few. All these films were based on real life heinous crimes.

Most recently, Caparas had a hand in 2018’s “Jacqueline Comes Home” which was about the controversial 1997 rape and double murder case of the Chiong sisters in Cebu. Directed by his daughter Ysabelle Peach Caparas and also starring his son CJ as one of the perpetrators, the elder Caparas co-directed the film that was met with scathing reviews.

Just a photo with late wife’s cousin

In a phone interview with The FREEMAN, Caparas explained that he was at the wake to extend his sympathies and express his condolences to the bereaved family, not to pitch a movie.

According to Caparas, he came at the request of Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) founding chairman Dante Jimenez, a good friend of his, who came with members of VACC.

As for the photo of him smiling alongside Patalinjug, Caparas said that they merely bumped into each other and commemorated the meeting with a quick snap.

Patalinjug is the cousin of Caparas’ late wife, film producer and actress Donna Villa, whose real name is Marian Patalinjug. He said it was pure coincidence and that he could not deny Patalinjug’s request for a photo.

“Pagpasok niya [Patalinjug] doon sa burol, nagkita kami, siyempre nagkagulatan, nagkabiglaan kami dahil pinsan siya ni Donna. Ang nangyari, dumating yung kamag-anak, coincidence, nagkabatian kami kaya masaya kami. Nag-request siya ng picture. Paano ko tatanggihan ang kamag-anak at kaibigan ng aking namatay na asawa? Imposible naman na magpapa-picture kami na parang hindi ako natutuwa. Kaya nakangiti kami. It so happened na wake ng tao yun,” he said.

Caparas, who is based in Lapu-Lapu City, finds it unfair that netizens assume he was there to cash in on the dead. He said he was there not only because of an invitation but because he felt for the Silawan family.

Despite having heard of and researched numerous violent crimes, Caparas said that the ordeal faced by Silawan was something he hasn’t encountered before.

If movie will help, why not?

“Nakausap namin yung family. Sabi ko sa pamilya na naroon ako para makiramay. Kung halimbawa mangyari na gawing movie, iyon ay sa ikatutulong sa paglutas ng kaso. Why not? Iko-consider natin pero walang katiyakan kung magagawa ang project lalo na ongoing pa ang imbestigasyon.”

He made it clear that he didn’t visit the wake to express plans of making a film. However, he said the possibility of a film might still be there, especially if it could potentially help the situation. As for when, Caparas stated that it will not be any time soon.

“Kailangan kasi yung resolution nung case. Kailangan both sides, both parties ang marinig ng korte para maparusahan kung sino ang dapat parusahan at managot. Umaandar pa yung kaso. Imposible naman na igawa agad. Kung makakatulong yung movie dito, at ako ngayon na naka-base sa Cebu, sa Lapu-Lapu City mismo, why not?” said Caparas, adding that these true-to-life films have become his wife’s legacy.

“Kung sabihin ng family na okay gawan ng movie, maybe. Kung walang problema sa case, walang problema sa prosecution o sa imbestigasyon, pwede i-consider na project yan – kung makakatulong sa matulin na paglutas nung kaso, why not?” he continued.

Unfazed

Still, the industry veteran understands where critics are coming from.

“Bahala na sila. Anyway, hindi tatalab dahil sanay na ako sa ganyan. Kapag celebrity ka or medyo nasa limelight, open for public scrutiny ka na. Okay lang. Nag-enjoy din naman ako sa freedom of expression bilang artist, bilang writer, bilang pintor, bilang director. Kakampi ko ang freedom of expression na bigay ng konstitusyon. Kaya lang, hindi dapat gamitin ang freedom na iyon para siraan ang tao,” he said.

He further said that with the rise of social media comes the influx of undesirable comments, but Caparas is unfazed because back in the day, he ate criticism for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The same goes for critics of his films.

“Sa pelikula naman, ma-negative or positive, it’s still publicity. Noong araw, wala pang social media, may mga movie critics na namimintas, pumupuna ng pelikula, pero box-office hit pa rin. Pinapasok pa rin ng publiko. Mararamdaman mo na ikaw yung panalo kasi ang pelikula mo tinatangkilik ng publiko.”

CARLO J. CAPARAS
Philstar
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