The year 2006 was also the year when five local film personalities made their final fade out though the marks they left in the industry continue to shine brightly.
Those who left us included two kumpadres, a drinking buddy and two performers– producer Ramon N. Bautista (a son of ex-Sen. Ramon Revilla, Sr. and kuya of Sen. Bong Revilla); director-scriptwriter-line producer Poch Bautista; musical scorer and perennial FAP citer-voter Boy Alcaide; sex siren Tet Antiquierra; and Freddie Quizon, one of comedy king Dolphy’s actor sons.
This writer researched and made scripts for RNB during the years 1985 to 1988—corresponding to the few years before I made my leap to directing. He was always in the lookout for true-to-life stories that can be portrayed by his father Mang Ramon or Putik and his younger brother Bong.
He got that sixth sense of being able to pinpoint a likely box-office winner. For his father, he bought the rights to film the life of Pepe Saclao, Public Enemy No. 1 (1986). The late Director Pepe Marcos directed from my script.
For Bong, he came up with blockbusters, including Boboy Tibayan, Tigre ng Cavite (1985) and the Cebu-based Alega Gang (1988). Not only had RNB the nose to track down good true-to-life biopics, he also had the eye to spot potential actors and actresses.
RNB Film also produced Kapitan Pablo (1987) for Sen. Ramon Sr., Boy Tornado (1987), a komiks novel about a boxing champion played by Bong, and Jockey Tiyan (1988), another komiks novel about a horse-racing jockey played by now Quezon City Vice-Mayor Herbert Bautista.
Unknown to many, RNB was the producer who gave Robin Padilla the break. This was in Alega Gang where Robin played a Bible-quoting gang member of Bong’s lead role character. Director Pepe Marcos shot Alega Gang while I buckled down for my first directorial stint in the Rudy Fernandez-starrer Sandakot na Bala for Regal Films.
Alega Gang was released in June 1988 while Sandakot na Bala was shown in October of that same year.
RNB was actually scouring for a project to launch Robin Padilla to a lead role. But he did not pursue this project for one reason or another, which frankly I cannot fathom up to this day.
Viva Films pounced on the opportunity to get Binoe under its wings. When Jesse Ejercito line-produced Eagle Squad (my second directorial assignment) for Viva Films, Robin was cast as one of the special SWAT operatives, together with Edu Manzano, Ricky Davao, Jeorge E.R. Ejercito, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and Monsour del Rosario. The film was shown in April 1989. Then Viva Films green-lighted another Jesse Ejercito line-produced project which finally launched Binoe to stardom. This was Hindi Pahuhuli nang Buhay, megged by Director Joey del Rosario, released in August 1989. The rest was movie history.
In December of 1990, RNB contracted me for my first directorial job under his production outfit. This was the true-to-life story of ex-Air Force Col. Meliton Geronimo, the rebellious mayor of Baras, Rizal, who whipped up his own version of People Power to foil the administration’s decision to oust him from office. RNB, as usual, rightly cast Eddie Garcia as the mayor and came up with a very popular title for the movie, Mayor Latigo (Ang Barakong Alkalde ng Baras). The colonel-mayor was a wizard in wielding the whiplash.
But halfway through the shooting, RNB was approached by Simon Ongpin, who was then working for Orly Ilacad to jumpstart Octoarts Films. RNB sold Mayor Latigo to Octoarts Films and, in effect, launched the outfit into film production. I completed principal photography and post-production under Octoarts and Mayor Latigo was released in May 1991. It was a box-office hit and Boss Orly called for an immediate follow-up project—another Eddie Garcia starrer titled Valentin Zapanta, Alyas Ninong. It was shown in September 1991, barely four months later and was even a bigger hit that Latigo.
Then suddenly our paths diverged. Before I knew it, RNB was already the mayor of San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija. He got re-elected for a second term in 2004. Then I received the sad news that RNB underwent a bypass operation last year. I was perplexed because I remember him as troubled by diabetes as early as the years we were building up RNB Films into a major film production outfit.
In my mind, RNB will always be my Pareng Mon, the mild-mannered, soft-spoken producer who had the Midas touch in yanking true-to-life stories from out of nowhere and turning them into box-office films. (Next week: Pareng Poch and Boy Alcaide)