Still reeling from the sudden demise of the beloved and prolific movie and television director Maryo J. de los Reyes, colleagues and celebrities from both showbiz and theater where he began his career gathered at his wake on Wednesday night to celebrate his life and legacy. Remembering his infectious laughter, his friends had many funny anecdotes to share as they agreed how greatly the “jolly” Direk Maryo will be missed.
The tribute was organized by veteran movie producer “Mother Lily” Monteverde and her daughter Roselle, whose film outfit Regal Entertainment produced a bulk of de los Reyes’ big screen outings; with the help of the Director’s Guild of the Philippines (DGPI), where de los Reyes was a long-time member—the gathering saw prominent figures in the crowd, many of whom willingly gave on the spot eulogies for the 65-year-old filmmaker.
Monteverde was first to speak explaining why she requested the family to allow a “Regal night” in the four-day wake: “The answer is simple: he is one of the pillars of our studio. Maryo J. de los Reyes is as much a part of Regal Films as Regal will always be the home of this filmmaker.
“In our many years together,” she continued, “Maryo was more than just a director who made films for us. He was and will always be family. Even more than that, Maryo was a friend—a great friend. This is unquestionable, as proven by the number of people gathered today feeling a sense of loss now that he has left us.
“But we will not talk about sadness. Instead, tonight we will celebrate his life,” Monteverde finally noted.
The tribute also underlined how extremely talented and socially conscious de los Reyes was, what with his significant contribution in theater as “food for the soul” as attested by Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) founder Cecile Guidote.
“We call him one of the so-called ‘naunang anak’ ng PETA. Throughout his career, he was able to incorporate his high morals into his many art forms—sending out message to his audience and raising social issues. Indeed he has used the arts for public service,” Gudiote remarked.
It was during his college years as a student of Mass Communication at University of the Philippines-Diliman, that de los Reyes became an active member of the country’s premiere theater group PETA.
Mentor and friend
“Maryo was a mentor, he was endlessly teaching not only filmmakers but also screenwriters. And he was endlessly giving. As a young writer, he gave me a break. And he also supported me when I began my career behind the camera,” blockbuster director Jose Javier Reyes went first in remembering a generous teacher. “His giving heart is surely one of his legacies.”
Award-winning director Joel Lamangan—whom de los Reyes mentored in PETA and later in his very first movie project—shared the greatest lesson he learned from the late director: “He told me once, when he saw me already working as a director and cursing almost everyone on the set, that we shouldn’t be just good in what we do—as director, as actors or even as production designers. Above all, we should always work with a good character dahil doon tayo makikilala.”
Some of the biggest stars of the ‘80s and ‘90s also remembered delos Reyes for his unceasing support, proclaiming they owe much of their careers to the late director.
“Kung sino ako ngayon is because of direk Maryo,” ‘80s matinee idol Aga Muhlach, who shot to fame after starring in delos Reyes’ iconic movie “Bagets.”
“There was a time during the ‘80s na nag re-rebelde ako but he would tirelessly pick up the pieces for me,” the actor added. In all, Muhlach has done about nine films with delos Reyes.
Alice Dixson, in recalling her first project with de los Reyes in “Batang Ama” when she was only 18 years old, related, “I started just as a pretty face but he invested his time, tears, passion, creativity and even himself to help me improve my craft. For sure, Maryo changed my life for the better.”
Dixson even remembered a time when, in the middle of teenage angst and depression, her skin broke out like crazy—a big no, no for stars who have to maintain their porcelain skin on screen. “Maryo stood by me. Instead of kicking me out, he used these filters to make me look glowing despite my pimples,” the actress affectionately shared.
Ara Mina also regarded de los Reyes as the director who helped her pull off the first dramatic scene of her career. “I was only 20 at the time I first met him. We were doing ‘Pahiram Kahit Sandali’ and I was new to acting, carrying this sexy image. When we got to the scene where I had to cry really hard, I found it so hard to do. But he motivated me, talagang piniga niya ako to the point na siya, umiiyak na rin. Thankfully, I did it and now I can say, ‘Direk, marunong na po ako umiyak kahit ‘di mo na ako i-movitave,” she said as she struggled to hold back her tears.
Also among the celebrities who attended the tribute, some of whom also gave brief eulogies, were Bacoor Mayor Lani Mercado, who cannot forget how de los Reyes turned her into an incredible black witch for the 1985 fantasy movie “Mga Kwento ni Lola Basyang;” and Bohol town mate Cesar Montano who expressed his admiration for the director’s unwavering faith. De los Reyes was on his way to becoming a priest when his spiritual advisors assured him that his undeniable calling to the arts can also be a means to serve the Lord.
Veteran actors Rex Cortez, Joel Torre, Edu Manzano and Caridad Sanchez also paid tribute to the director throughout a night filled with colorful stories about the late great Maryo J. de los Reyes, filled with love and laughter as he would have wanted the gathering to be.
De los Reyes was proclaimed dead on arrival at a Dipolog City hospital in the wee hours of Sunday morning after suffering a heart attack at a friend’s party. His remains will be cremated at 11 am today at Loyola Memorial Chapels and Crematorium in Commonwealth, Quezon City.