For multi-awarded filmmaker Ralston Jover, transforming the late Rene Villanueva’s Hiblang Abo into a film is a dream come true. The popular, prizewinning play had fascinated Jover since he saw it staged. “When I read and watched the play I thought I would one day translate it to film and to direct it,” he recalls.
The play had won second prize in the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Playwriting Contest in 1980, and was mounted the same year by Gantimpala Theater and Tanghalang Pilipino.
Even when he was already busy writing TV dramas, Jover remained “obsessed” with the material and knew he had to see it on the big screen. After writing a series of commissioned film scripts, Jover spoke with CCP officials and the heirs of Villanueva to get permission to finally do his dream project. Once he got it, he immediately got to work adapting it into film, initially writing its screenplay. “This is a fitting tribute to Rene for his immense contributions to Philippine theater,” Jover says.
Submitted to Cinemalaya two years ago, Hiblang Abo was lucky enough to be one of the projects chosen for funding; Bessie Padilla has also agreed to invest in the project.
With Joonee Gamboa unable to work on film given his TV projects, Jover found himself with an equally illustrious group of thespians. Lou Veloso, Jr., Jun Urbano, Leo Rialp and Fernando Josef came on board to essay the roles of persons coming to terms with emotional and physical pain, in their twilight years at an old people’s home.
Another aspect of this film’s making was Jover’s decision to dub the dialogues in post-production to weed out unnecessary noise and achieve technical perfection.
After directing five award-winning films, with his last one Hamog currently being screened at the 20th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival in Bucheon City South Korea, Ralston believes there are still uncharted avenues for his creativity: “I will do films as long as I live.”
Hiblang Abo also stars Matt Daclan, Anna Luna, and Lui Manansala, and is part of the 12th Cinemalaya Film Festival 2016.