I have a theory.

I believe every person in the Philippines has seen an episode of Maalaala Mo Kaya. That’s why every one of us, #lakingMMK!

Hehe, so maybe I exaggerate. Siguro one out of every two people of the population with a television set? 😉

Anyways, Merry Christmas, MMK!!!  Every single episode I direct since that first story in 2011 (Make-up starring Carl John Barrameda, Carl John Barrameda, Maliksi Morales and Maliksi Morales) always make me feel honored to be trusted with the responsibility of bringing to life the stories of our letter senders.

But aside from these generous everyday people brave enough to write “Dear Charo..,” the true gems of this almost 24-year old show are the staff and crew and actors who continue to uphold the legacy that makes MMK the popular archive of the contemporary Filipino life.

For the rare chance of being made a part of that, and for the wonderful company of my colleagues who not only grew up with but also grew old in the show (#tandangMMK), THANK YOUUUU!!! (Ang babait ninyo!)

You make me grateful and proud that I am also #lakingMMK 😀


IMG_6041Photo by @annguimbangunan (MMK Hatid-Sundo 2014 December 17)

My super belated post. Not sure if this really is the Top TEN films that made a mark on me, but without thinking too long, this is the ten that came up. When posting the “Top 10 movies that stuck with you” was all the rage, I didn’t have to think long for my Top 3. It was immediately decided. Got too busy to busy to post mine and only got reminded again now that Jurassic World’s trailer is out (wow!).

1) My Best Friend’s Wedding
2) Aladdin
3) Jurassic Park
4) The Usual Suspects
5) Cutting Edge
6) The End of the Affair
7) Aswang
8) The History Boys
9) Shake, Rattle & Roll II
10) Dancer in the Dark

It’s obvious that most of these films came out when I was a kid or in High School – so they really stuck with me, obviously.

One notable movie also stuck with me, but for the wrong reasons. My best friend in grade school, Amado and I snuck out of Zobel during school hours to go to ATC (Alabang Twin Cinema pa, I think). It was an “unofficial” cut cause it was actually Fair week in Zobel, so we didn’t really have classes that day, but I still felt like such a rebel riding the jeep out of AAV to watch a movie during school hours cause it was my first time to leave school premises alone.

We had extra money, so we decided to watch a movie. We saw “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” which I enjoyed immensely. But it was more memorable cause halfway through the movie, a grown up man sat two seats away to my left and started pleasuring himself… TO RICK MORANIS LOOKING FOR HIS SHRUNKEN KIDS, WTF?!? I was too scared to acknowledge him or tell Amado about it, so I tried my best to ignore him and focused on Rick Moranis’ extreme close ups until the stranger probably got so offended no on was paying him attention and eventually left.

Round up (with spoilers!):
1) My Best Friend’s Wedding – I’m a Julia Roberts fan… still am. Notting Hill is a close 11. Best romcom anti-heroine ever. Possibly her most charming film… I will always stop to watch this movie through when I catch it on TV.

My Best Friend's Wedding - The moment passes you by


2) I memorized the Aladdin soundtrack weeks before the movie even came out. It was the same for Beauty and The Beast. But I didn’t fantasize being Beast, or Belle, or Gaston, like I did with Aladdin. It worth noting that among the slew of Disney hits, this was the one that featured a male HUMAN lead (so no, it still trumps Lion King). Kaya siguro it resonated a lot with me. I still feel slightly pasaway when I watch Aladdin. Sarap remembering how I dreamed that I, too, was a diamond in the rough. (Big bonus watching Lea Salonga perform it on television in the Oscars)



3) Jurassic Park defines the Cinema Experience for me. Watching it was MAGIC, and how wonderful it was. I was in AWE of the dinosaurs. I was totally with the characters jumping from my seat, getting scared witless, and in total relief when they finally got on that chopper in the end (and intrigued what it could mean when I saw those pterodactyls flying alongside). I saw it four (or five times ata) in the cinema. I was in High School then, so you know that meant much (gastos!). I bought the cassette tape soundtrack even and until now, I still have the main theme memorized – tanana-na-na… tanana-na-na… (which is the same strains used in the Jurassic World trailer, in case you didn’t know). It wasn’t ET or Jaws or Indiana Jones that made me a fan of Spielberg. It was this movie.

Jurassic Park

4) Keyser Soze! I saw The Usual Suspects either with Search In or LSYC friends back in High School… but I certainly remember it was the second to the last or the LFS in ATC. This movie stands out as the one that first made me aware of brilliant Plot Twists as a potent narrative device. How great twists can be when done right. This is also the first time that an actor made a mark on me for his performance so much that I took note of his name – Kevin Spacey, who was unknown to me until then.

The Usual Suspects


5) I believe Cutting Edge is the first movie that I saw on my own. I didn’t know anything about it when I decided to buy a ticket to its screening. I was waiting for my Tita to pick me up and had more than two hours to spare, so I watched. I was drawn to it cause of Moira Kelly’s profile on the poster (gorgeously staring at DB Sweeney on the right of the poster). I may have been in Grade 6. And wow, how I fell in love (though I doubt I knew how that truly felt back then). I believe it was the first time I felt kilig, and kilig from a movie. Ang cute ni Moira Kelly! She came to my consciousness ahead of Winona Ryder and always believed Winona looked like her, and not the other way around. That scene when she decided she will do the pamchenko routine in the end – during the routine itself!!! – because she’s learned to trust DB’s character na – classic! Toe pick!

Cutting Edge

The End of the Affair6) The End of the Affair was… wow, bigat, heart-wrenching. It was a profound experience watching this back when I was in college. Betrayal story times two. And how brilliant is it to turn an affair on its head by making the lover act like the possessive partner, and to have God as the third party? One of my most favourite films of all time. And again, that movie that made me take note of an actor and her performance. This time, the great Julianne Moore. Remember that scene when she was on her knees, praying after the bomb dropped, and SOON AS she whispered her desperate bargain to God, Ralph Fiennes calls out from behind her. The camera tracks to the right and reveals Ralph, alive. GOOSEBUMPS! every. f*cking. time.


7) AswangI loved horror and fantasy Pinoy films when I was a kid. Aswang had the best ensemble you can ever gather in a Pinoy horror film – Janice de Belen, Manilyn Reynes, Aiza Seguerra, Berting Labra, Joey Marquez, Mary Walter, and of course, Lilia Cuntapay. Because of this film, I fantasized about aswang adventures when visiting new places (here, it was a town called Talisay). How the movie started with a straight up murder-massacre but eventually evolve into a small town horror story is genius – complete with Tiktiks, Shape Shifters, Manananggal… as well as tips on how to prevent an aswang from getting back to her house before sunrise. Obviously, the only effective way to kill it, duh! The Peque-Lore(-Don Escudero) team at their very best!


The History Boys8) The History Boys perfectly illustrates the straightforward emotional complexity that theatre manages to capture despite the constraints it suffers compared to film. Which is possibly why the emotions are intensely magnified when it was effectively translated to film (and successful effectiveness is not always assured). I’ve always believed film to be the more comfortable medium for such stories. While most of my contemporaries would cite “Dead Poets Society” (which I also loved) as their definitive teenage coming of age story, I was always more partial to The History Boys. There was a subtle element of darkness to to the story and the character relationships seemed more dangerously real. Take note na rin that this coming of age film came out when I was in my mid-twenties na. Late bloomer ako, hehe…


9) Shake, Rattle & Roll II is a feast. The best trilogy in Pinoy Cinema, I think. The mix of the stories are perfect, as well as its casting (again with Janice de Belen and Manilyn Reynes, but this time with Carmina Villaroel, Eric Quizon, Joey Marquez, Vangie Labalan, Ana Roces, Richard Gomez and Rez Cortez). I have so much more to say about how I love it, but this trailer is just so perfect I’d let it do the talking. (Don’t you just love it when trailers that show all the best bits, but the movie’s so great that you don’t mind anymore?)


Dancer in the Dark10) When I first saw Dancer in the Dark, it was heartbreaking. I thought it would be hard to watch it again. I’ve only seen it less than 5 times even though I have the DVD. But I remember much of it vividly. The first time I got so impressed by Lars Von Trier. One of the films that proved to me how truly powerful films can be, and the vast potential it has in telling stories. Again, what I said about performances. This time, Bjork! Who’d’ve thunk? I’m thinking about watching it again now, and already my heart is breaking remembering Bjork’s performance and that tragic ending.


How lucky am I to be working in this industry I belong to? For the precious opportunity to make the same mark on other people with the films or episodes I write or direct 🙂


Starring Julia Barretto, Iñigo Pascual
ABS-CBN – Maalaala Mo Kaya / HD / approx. 60 mins / Television Anthology Episode
2014 November 29

When an adolescent first experiences the unadulterated pleasures (and pains) of falling in love, is there anything big enough to receive all the things the heart will be pouring out? Apparently, the pages of a diary are.

Watch Barretto and Pascual once again come together in this wildly enjoyable story, but for the first time, in the form of second generation showbiz royalties, Julia and Iñigo.

Julia & Iñigo#MMKDiary

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Starring Sunshine Cruz, Gardo Versoza, Sue Ramirez, Janus Del Prado, Nikki Valdez
ABS-CBN – Maalaala Mo Kaya / HD / approx. 60 mins / Television Anthology Episode
2014 November 22

Sometimes, we don’t know we’re being abused. Cynthia’s own mother instilled in her the belief that luxury and material security equated to love, and this imprisoned her in an oppressive marriage.

How do you find the courage to stand up against abuse when you were never empowered to be your own person?

Cynthia's hardships#MMKAgainstTheOdds

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Starring Maxene Magalona, Bembol Roco, Shamaine Buencamino
ABS-CBN – Maalaala Mo Kaya / HD / approx. 60 mins / Television Anthology Episode
2014 November 08

To all of you NURSES… to us who have family, relatives, and friends who are nurses… and to those of us who, at one point in our lives, received the care of a nurse… Watch their plight depicted through the story of Fatima Palma, the Nurse Rapper.


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Starring Jane Oineza, Marlo Mortel, Andrea del Rosario
ABS-CBN – Maalaala Mo Kaya / HD / approx. 60 mins / Television Anthology Episode
25 October 2014

When you’re faced with the certainty of the end, is there any use for hope?

Hanging on to hope is easier said than done, Paolo attests, lamenting for the most appropriate reason one could ever find. He rediscovers hope and his zest for life when he meets Rovil who, like him, was also diagnosed with leukemia. But what if that empathy and companionship grows to something more. Can their fragile hearts still bear to take on something as immense as love?

MMK Little Infinity - Parang yakap ko#MMKLittleInfinity

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Post-Father’s Day Episode

Starring Jairus Aquino, Zoren Legaspi, Yves Flores, Assunta de Rossi
ABS-CBN – Maalaala Mo Kaya / HD / approx. 60 mins / Television Anthology Episode
2014 June 21

We often struggle to justify to our parents the choices that we make for ourselves, especially in our youth. While we trust that they want nothing but the best for us, sometimes, our heart urges us to pursue dreams outside the conventions.

When young Dandoy, earnestly played by Jairus Aquino, first felt the stoke from riding a skimboard, then later on, the longboard, he knew that it was where he belonged. Can his father Bibi, played by Zoren Legaspi, be faulted for denying the boy his support, when this interest has led Dandoy to turn his back on education?

Whose dreams must prevail?

Bibi disapproves of Dandoy's Longboard

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Mother’s Day Special

Starring Carmina Villaroel, Bernard Palanca, Yam Concepcion
ABS-CBN – Maalaala Mo Kaya / HD / approx. 60 mins / Television Anthology Episode
10 May 2014

How can women do the things they do in relationships? Why do wives choose to suffer through repeated betrayals instead of breaking free from it? Can mothers do things that would hurt their own children, their own flesh and blood?

Our mothers are as frail as they are strong, especially when it comes to us, their children. Be touched and inspired by Dina’s brand of motherhood in MMK (The Official)‘s Mother’s Day Special, see how wondrous motherhood truly is, and the salvation one can find in genuine, unconditional love. A love so generous and a heart so immense that she can find space for her husband’s children from another woman.

MMK - Pangalawang Ina - 2

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Starring Connie Reyes, Bembol Roco, Jane Oineza, Yves Flores, Joshua Dionisio, Tommy Abuel
ABS-CBN – Maalaala Mo Kaya / HD / approx. 60 mins / Television Anthology Episode
29 March 2014

What is great love like? Is it unconditional, selfless devotion that honours and nurtures you? Or is it relentless and passionate… reckless but undying?

Can great love cause you pain? Does great love survive death?

Angie and Bert’s love was so great that they believed only death could come between them, but it was Nanding who stayed faithful and unflinching in his devotion to Angie. How does one know which love to honour?

MMK - Sorry My Love 3

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Starring Angeline Quinto, Jason Abalos, Alex Castro, Eva Darren, Alex Dungo, Roy Requejo
ABS-CBN – Maalaala Mo Kaya / HD / approx. 60 mins / Television Anthology Episode
11 August 2012



Starring Gina Pareño, Dante Rivero, Sunshine Garcia, Rodjun Cruz
ABS-CBN – Maalaala Mo Kaya / HD / approx. 60 mins / Television Anthology Episode
03 November 2012



A friend of mine posted a link to this amusing cartoon from Oatmeal.com, with a message relating it to the passage of the Cybercrime Law. When my friend mentioned that the Cybercrime Law “does not serve the interest of the people, but serves to protect the interest of the big companies who own copyrights to artists’ works,” it somehow felt wrong to me. He said that the Cybercrime Law was not “protecting the artist’s intellectual property by being ‘anti-piracy.'” I was against the Cybercrime Act’s passage too, but something about his statement felt incongruous with my sentiments, so I clicked on the link to see the website.

The cartoon basically says big music publishers’ (like EMI) control and share of the revenues from sales have greatly diminished over the years, relinquishing more of it over to the musicians. It proceeds to say that we should push for a more direct interaction between the consumers and the musicians, where every cent we spend buying music goes to the artist. I agreed, specially on the last point, but it also pushed me to distill my stand on the Cybercrime Law.

Because of the current online landscape, I thought, aren’t musicians already capacitated to make the self-preserving choice to make their music directly accessible (allowing them to dictate their own terms for remuneration, keeping for themselves the entire “retail” price)? Di ba parang, was it Radiohead who tried this? This is a real question by the way. An impression of how it is now, as opposed to an informed insight into the workings of the music industry.

My point being, piracy happens because the musicians sign off the rights to the music publishers, giving the publishers the rights which they invoke against unpaid sharing/downloads. Simply put, if they didn’t sign off these rights, there wouldn’t be ‘piracy’ to begin with. Part of what they sign up for when they sell the rights to their music is the benefit of advertising and promotion, which is what forces them to this (often) oppressive setup. Much as I agree that getting 23¢ out of an 18$ retail price in exchange for publicity & promotion seems grossly unfair, it doesn’t follow that piracy in itself is justified.

I guess what I’m ultimately driving at is… I don’t see this Oatmeal editorial as anti-piracy exactly. And I while I also am against the passing of the current draft of the Cybercrime Law, I don’t believe that its protection of copyright infringement is among its biggest flaws.

Sadly kase, music, in these terms, is not all art but also commerce. It shouldn’t stop us from lobbying for increased royalties for the true artists, but we should be careful not to become unwitting accomplices of copyright infringement. The setup alluded to by the cartoon should rightly draw attention to the unjust capitalist bullying that happens between big Music Publishers and hard-working artists. Or in parallel cases, between Film Distributors and actors/writers/producers. (Oddly enough, this is coming from someone who doesn’t own the copyright to his scripts!)

I welcome what torrents and filesharing have done in making music and films easily accessible, but I’m not going to say that getting them for free was something I had a right to.

Ako personally, in the case of my self-produced short films, I made them without any intention of making money out of them, so I make them available on my website. If someone made it available through torrents, I wouldn’t mind it being shared by everyone, so more people can watch it. Kaya nga I didn’t go shopping for producers, offering its copyright in exchange for funding. I made it without any intention of getting back the money that I spent shooting and editing and shopping for the food that acted as compensation for those who worked pro-bono (or in some instances, the hugely discounted talent fees I paid my actors). So yes, please, go on and share it all you want – for free, too!

But when friends find out that I wrote or directed a certain movie for a film company and ask if I can give them a torrent, it’s not entirely flattering. Kase a part of me wants them to pay for the movie as they watch it in the cinema or buy the DVD, cause sad to say, while I also consider it my art, it is also how I make a living. In a way, especially for those who are not fans of Pinoy films, what they seem to say is, “You’re my friend so I’ll watch your film, but I don’t appreciate your work enough to pay for it” – unlike how they might, say, brave the long lines at the cinemas on the first day of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

In a way kase, patronage of music and films, and other forms of entertainment and art, is in huge part measured by sales, and my currency as a commercial scriptwriter or director is partly based on the public patronage of my work. This is how I’m able to demand a reasonable compensation for my art.

So again, while I am against the current draft of the Cybercrime Law, I hope the protection it gives against copyright infringement survives. Strike down the parts that constitute double convictions resulting from the distinction between libel and online libel; the violation on equal protection rights of those considered as Information and Communication Technolgy (ICT) users; the relaxation of the Constitutional requirements for surveillance thus violating rights to privacy of communication; and most importantly, the “takedown provision” that empower the DOJ to be the one-stop shop on all online matters, minus the requirement of a fair trial or conviction. But that of copyright infringement, let’s be careful about that.

It really all boils down to… sana next time, support me by watching my films in the movie house 😉