I first met Manong Gilbert Perez while working on the script of the Piolo-Regine movie. Carmi, Van and I were co-writing with Emman to flesh out a story he conceptualized. I liked working with Manong, and truth be told, I was kind of awestruck whenever we met with him. His reputation precedes him. Besides, it felt to me like a huge privilege to work with an established director like him while I was just breaking into the movie industry.
Manong was quite easy to work with, though the whole process wasn’t exactly devoid of bumps. In the end, that script was passed over for another story. Eventually, our team was dropped from that project altogether. About a year or so later, the Piolo-Regine project became “Paano Kita Iibigin.”
The next time I met Manong was when I was brought in to help out in “Supah Papalicious.” While our previous encounter sailed smoothly enough, writing for this movie was more turbulent. Coming in late in the project, smack in the middle of production, my participation was naturally wrought with problems, creative and otherwise. It culminated in a rather painful misunderstanding. The worst part of it was that though it involved me and Manong, it didn’t really happen between us. Suffice it to say that he felt bad about things I did, and I felt bad about how he reacted, but we never discussed it between us. It was a huge issue for me, but the other people involved in the Vhong-Makisig movie thought that it wasn’t as big as I’m imagining it to be. Maybe that truly was the case. Manong, after all, is known to be as temperamental as he was talented. Perhaps its the Catholic virtue of guilt nagging at me, but I still hoped to eventually get the chance to talk to him.
Today, I learned that Manong has passed away a few nights ago.
I feel bad that I was never given the chance to clear things with him. To tell him that despite the unfortunate circumstances, I still deem it a privilege to work have worked with him.
In his passing, he joins Galo Ador, Jr., another genius of a writer with whom I wrote Agent X44. Another loss in ABS’s roster of talents.
Rest in peace, Manong!