The screening of nominated films for the Luna Awards had turned UP Film Center into some sort of a venue for the impromptu reunion of movie industry denizens. Following are some notes on personalities who, in one way or the other, have contributed in providing us with quality entertainment.
Even with his thick, wide-rimmed spectacles which looked more like a tapa-ojo than a set of eyeglasses, Tintoy still has that ready-to-flash smile which easily reminds one of his heydays as a sidekick to the famed comedian Chiquito. Born Enrique Arcega, he is now in his 70s but still looking trim and fit. “Kita mo, ha?” he boasted, “kasi masayahin akong tao saka wala akong kalaban.”
With that statement, I reminded him of his spat with Chiquito. “Ah, oo, oo nga, ano? Pero one year lang yun tumagal. Galing si Tito noon sa Australia tapos hindi yata nakatiis kaya tinawagan ako,” he gave out a dry laugh as if to manifest his longing for his friend. Tintoy said that their revived tandem brought them lots of money. And the cause of their spat was sheer jealousy on the part of Chiquito. “Kasi me kumuha sa akin para mag-show. Sumama ang loob. Bakit daw pag siya me show o pelikula eh lagi akong kasama. Tapos pag ako eh solo lang, hindi siya kasama.” Tintoy justified his amor propio, that Chiquito was already earning P500,000 per picture while he, Tintoy as the sidekick, was paid only P50,000. Pepe and Pilar, that starred Chiquito and Daria Ramirez, was a sort of maiden film after the reconciliation of Tintoy and Chiquito.
Tintoy intimated that he got a phone call a few days before Chiquito succumbed to liver ailment. “Madamdamin yun kasi halos alam na namin ang mangyayari. Oo, siyempre malungkot. Kaya namahinga muna ko.” His gloomy face was stretched a bit upon remembering that Chiquito was the Makati vice mayor when he died. “Magaling makisama. Pareho naman kami eh,” Tintoy laughed like a young boy.
Trying to get past Chiquito’s shadows, Tintoy turned to his achievements and enumerated his memorable films with his mildly hoarse voice. “Yung Selda Trese, yun ang pinakamaganda sa mga nagawa ko. Si Ace ang bida dun, si Ace Vergel at si Gina Alajar.” When Chiquito passed away, Tintoy was left with no option but to go into directing films. “Ako ang director nun. Oo, kumita yun, malaki kaya nga me bonus pa ko eh. Pero ang first directorial ko yung Gorio at Damong Ligaw. Si Tito rin yun saka si Alma Moreno.” He enumerated more of his directed films like Tacio, starring Chiquito, Balandra Crossing, an offshoot of Cassandra Crossing, and Buwelta Force, a lampoon of Delta Force.
Putok Sa Buho is a film that didn’t reach the silver screen. “Ang ganda nun, si Tito pa rin siyempre ang bida, kasama si Andrew E. Bale kambal sila sana, kaso na-reject nung producer. Tapos nagulat nga ako kasi nag-shoot si Tito ng bagong pelikula, ang title ano, Look Alike.” Tintoy claimed that Look Alike, which had Chiquito and Andrew E. for the lead roles, was a rehash of his Putok Sa Buho. But upon Chiquito’s advice, Tintoy did not complain to the producer simply because Chiquito was in it, not to mention that Tintoy was also in the movie.
When asked of his last movie, Tintoy’s face turned serious. “Matagal na kong walang project, anim na taon na. Alam mo naman, bagsak ang industriya ngayon. Ewan ko ba kung bakit nagkaganoon. Siguro nga mga pirata, ano? Pero marami pa rin ang me gusto sa sine. Kasi naman, ang laki ng gastos mag-produce ngayon.”
But Tintoy is still aching to make another movie. He had prepared a storyline entitled Anak Ni Mister Wong, the Chinese action hero popularized by Chiquito. “Maganda yun kasi gagamitin namin yung mga lumang footage ni Tito. Tapos itong anak niya duwag ang papel. Gusto ko ngang bida si Bong Revilla sana eh.” But unfortunately, the good storyline did not suit the taste buds of any producer.
For the meantime, Tintoy keeps on honing his entertainment skills and talents by doing live shows in the provinces. “Ka-tandem ko ngayon si Cora. Ako ang taga-bato, siya ang taga-salo. Para kaming Patsy and Lopito. Ginagaya nga kami ng iba pero kilala ko naman sila kaya nakikiusap ako na pag magkasabay kami sa show, bigay galang naman sila sa akin, wag nilang gamitin yung routine ko.”
For his final words, Tintoy reiterated his desire to make a film. “Ah, writer ka pala (referring to me). Ikaw (referring to Vic Dabao) Production Design? Sige, gagawa tayo ng pelikula, ako ang director, sige, kaya natin yan.” Tintoy glanced at the ceiling, maybe a gesture that the flame of hope is still burning in his heart. Good luck, Direk Tintoy!
Mar Lopez is best remembered for his authentic Pinoy songs and adaptations of popular foreign songs. Together with his two buddies, Mar organized the first and original naughty singers called the Big 3 Sullivans. The airlane was abuzz with their maiden song Aswang which was an adaptation of a Tagalog folk song with the opening line of the refrain – Halimaw ang aking mahal… Surprisingly for that era when the Beatles were the king of the airlanes, Aswang, which was produced by Los Compadres Recording owned by Sencio Ordiales, grossed millions of pesos in record sales.
Another of their most liked adapations of a foreign song was that of the Commodores’ I Feel Sanctified with lines like “Aah, ang gusto ko’y hot pandesal…” And who would forget their blockbuster song Saging Ni Pacing during the times of Bomba films? That was the first naughty song recorded and played on Philippine radio. But in terms of record sales, Mar says that none of his album can beat May Pulis Sa Ilalim Ng Tulay, another Big 3 Sullivans adaptation, that of There’s A Hole In The Bottom Of The Sea.
When the Big 3 Sullivans was diminished to two due to the death of one of the members, Mar laid low for a while before reviving their musical career with his Tatlong Pinoy group. It was ironic to think that the master of adaptation was copied by a group called Tatlong Itlog.
Aside from Tatlong Itlog, the Pork Chop duo was also mentioned as pretenders to the throne of Pinoy novelty singers. But Mar Lopez, with a broad smile, contradicted the premise. “Ako ang bumuo ng Pork Chop,” he said without bragging. “Ganito yun, makinig ka. Me ginawa akong twelve songs na ibinigay ko kay Buddy De Vera ng Alpha, para sa Reycards yun. Kaso hindi nagkasundo si Pilita (who was the manager of The Reycards Duet) at si Buddy kaya naiwan akong nakabitin.” That gave him the impetus to think of his friends who were wannabes in the field. And so the Pork Chop Duo was born. Thanks to Mar and his naughty songs of which album turned gold many times.
“Yang TVJ, ako rin ang nag-umpisa nyan,” now Mar seemed to be bragging. But things got clearer when he continued. “Akin ang material nung first album nina Vic. Ibinigay ko kay Joey kasi DJ si Joey noon, di ba? Tapos nun, binago-bago na lang nila yung material. Akala mo ba, hit na hit yung mga kantang yun.” Indeed, the Tito-Vic-Joey triumvirate got more popular when they came out with their Tough Hits. Unfortunately, Mar Lopez was not in the credits of that album of TVJ which was composed of Tito and Vic Sotto and Joey De Leon.
Now that age is catching up on him, Mar decided to bring back the Big 3 Sullivans. With two new members, they came out with a new album. “Nasa market na yun. Hanapin mo ang Mga Buwaya Sa Kalye. Hindi mga pulis yun kasi matitino ang mga pulis. Mga ano yun, mga snatcher, me driver din, me pasahero. Yung tipong wala pang bayad eh hihingi pa ng sukli,” a short chuckle followed. “Oy, hindi pa last yan, marami pa,” he quipped, referring to his age of flat 70 (years old).
“Alam mo, kami ni Buddy ang nagtayo ng Alpha Records. Ako sa production, siya sa finance.” Alpha was Mar’s home studio for quite a time, during the height of his career with The Big 3 Sullivans.
Mar Lopez had helped countless of aspiring singers and composers. He even asked if I’ve heard of Vehnee Saturno. Of course, my answer was in the affirmative. “Sa akin din nag-umpisa yan. Kaya lang, ano, hindi naman niya inaamin. Pero okay lang yun, kasi basta natulungan ko tapos na yun. Walang masamang tinapay akin.”
When queried on his lifetime earnings, “Me naitabi naman ako. Pero, oy, hindi ko dito kinita yun, sa abroad. Aba, dollars yun, di ba? Kaya pag bibiyahe ako nagdadala ko ng maraming album ko, benta ko minsan 15 dollars. O, magkano yun?” It’s heartening to know that the May Pulis album, now in CD form, is still selling abroad. “Kaya siguro pag me nakakagawa sa akin ng mali, pinalalagpas ko lang. Pero siguro kung wala akong pera, siguro baka nga, baka hindi ko sila pinalagpas,” it was trailed by his patented chuckle that cannot be copied.
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