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‘Honest ako sa panahon ko’: Ricky Lee on writing then and now

MANILA, Philippines — National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts Ricardo "Ricky" Lee wrote the screenplay of the 1982 Marilou Diaz-Abaya film "Moral."

The film tackles topics such as abortion and gender inequality, which were seen as sensitive or taboo at the time.

Forty-plus years later, these topics are still heavily debated across all platforms. The four central characters of "Moral," who are four female close friends, are still relatable to many women today.

Recently, Lee worked on having "Moral" screened at his hometown in Daet, Camarines Norte, with two of his other notable screenplays, "Anak" and "Himala." The latter film directed by the late National Artist Ishmael Bernal, interestingly, was pitted against "Moral" at the 1982 Metro Manila Film Festival. While "Himala" took many of the awards, Lee won Best Screenplay for "Moral."

Personal

Lee said he chose the three stories to be screened in his hometown for different reasons.

The 2000 film "Anak," starring Vilma Santos and Claudine Barretto, was chosen for its relatability for families and overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

In the movie, Vilma plays an OFW who struggles to find connection to her children, including Claudine's character, whom she has left behind for so many years to take care of another family's children abroad so she could provide for her family in the Philippines.

"Himala," said Lee, is a proud moment for him as the film continues to enjoy fame even until today.

"Yung 'Himala' naman, dahil sa lahat ng scripts na nasulat ko na halos 200 na, 'yung 'Himala' lang paulit-ulit na nata-transform. Nabubuhay uli. Nagkakaroon ng ibang porma. Naghihimala. Naging stage play. Naging libro, radio series, musical and so on. Ang sarap na makita siya sa iba-iba niyang bersyon and ang sarap na makita nung ibang tao ang reaksyon sa kanya up to now," said Lee to Philstar.com in an exclusive interview.

He confessed that it is also special because it stars Nora Aunor.

Among all the three, however, "Moral" is a personal piece. The film stars Lorna Tolentino, Sandy Andolong, Anna Marin and Gina Alajar.

"'Moral' is very personal kasi kwento 'yun ng buhay ko at mga kaibigan ko nung '80s. Hindi siya isang bagay na isinulat ko lang. Isang bagay siya na naranasan ko. Binuhay ko. Ikinabuhay ko, nakabuhayan ko noon. So ganoon siya kahalaga sa akin," he said.

Writing in the 'woke' era

"Moral" may be seen as a "woke" piece during its time.

For the respected author and writer, he only remained true or honest to the time when his stories were written.

"Nang sinulat ko ang mga pelikula kong 'Moral,' 'Himala,' 'Anak,' which I co-wrote with other writers, nagsulat ako bilang response ko sa panahong iyon, sa konteksto ng panahong iyon. Hindi ko naman ma-imagine ang panahon ng 2023. So nagre-respond ako sa panahon na kinalalagyan ko," Lee said.

He cited that famous adage about no man being an island, adding that a writer does not exist in a vacuum. Like most people, writers are affected by the events and context of the society they are living in.

"Honest ako sa panahon ko… So kung may mga nasasabing linya noon na ngayon ay dapat natwi-tweak na, naa-adjust na, hindi ko siya babaguhin kasi documentation 'yun ng katotohanan ng panahong iyon.

"Baka isipin ng mga tao, woke na woke na sila noong 1980s. So parang dini-distort ko ang history. And ikalawa, parang nangdadaya ako kasi hindi ko naman naisip 'yon nung panahong 'yun. Bakit ko palalabasin naisip ko? Bakit ko ire-revise siya ngayon? Pandaraya 'yun," Lee stressed.

He pointed out that the good thing about his works are they are still relevant today.

"And if I may say so, modesty aside, parang nagre-respond naman siya adequately sa panahon ngayon the way nagre-respond siya sa panahon noon. And so, parang ang swerte-swerte ko naman. Ang blessed-blessed ko naman na 'yung trabaho ko na ginawa ko 41, 42 years ago, eh, may silbi pa rin siya at nakaka-respond pa rin siya sa panahon ngayon in a woke manner, I think."

RELATED:Ricky Lee says his scriptwriting workshop is a go this year

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Credit belongs to : www.philstar.com

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