• Robin Padilla’s Dikong remembered

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    GEORGE VAIL KABRISTANTE

    GEORGE VAIL KABRISTANTE

    Aside from the fact that these monster hit movies are Robin Padilla-starrers, what else do these titles—Anak Ni Baby Ama, Hari Ng Selda (Part 1 & 2), Miss Na Miss Kita: Ang Utol Kong Hoodlum (Part 1 & 2), Carnap King: The Randy Padilla Story, and Kickouts remind you of?

    Except for the last two aforementioned titles, the rest of the two films with remake versions were produced by Viva Films and were helmed by the iconoclast Director Deo Fajardo, Jr. who kicked the bucket just the past week and was cremated last Thursday at St. Peter Memorial Chapel, Commonwealth.

    He was 78, famously known for discovering La Aunor’s early love team Manny De Leon (no relation to the De Leon clan of showbiz), Rudy Fernandez, and yes, Robin Padilla, which he gave the moniker “Bad Boy of Philippine Cinema.”

    Coco Martin in his salad days had signed up under Dikong’s management, but that’s another story to tell.

    Don’t ask me what caused Deo’s death, for isn’t it that when you reach such age, you likely would succumb to the frailty of being a mortal? It was reported that the director had been brought twice to the ICU of the Heart Center in Quezon City (Imelda Marcos’s brainchild in case you didn’t know).

    In hindsight, Dikong, as he was fondly called by close friends, had made more than a dozen features, mostly B-films. Blockbuster Carnap King topbilled by Robin Padilla was produced by a good friend of mine Mike Miranda, who used to operate a lucrative business of deploying singers and dancers to Japan. Kickouts, meanwhile, was Dikong’s debut movie in 1983 dwelling on youth angst was produced by an enterprising gay scion of the Lunetas of Pasay to jumpstart the career of his virtually unknown ward Aikee Serrano backed up by Gloria Romero, Gina Alajar, Isabel Rivas, US émigré Anna Marie Gutierrez and the departed Charlie Davao with emerging hot dudes of the time—the late Joel Alano, Choy Acuña, Edwin Reyes, Alvin Kanon, Lew Magdangal, and Jerry Acosta.

    I remember the first movie ever of Dikong like the palm of my hand because I co-wrote the script with him. It was reviewed a little positively by former member of Manunuri film critique turned full-time movie writer Mario Bautista.

    The rest of Dikong’s movies, in particular those he made for Viva Films, were mostly action hits but were a bit short in critical acclaim. Even then for awhile this made the director almost a fair-haired rara avis in the stable of Vic del Rosario known for smelling good money and ROIs.

    But as the saying goes, anyone in the movie industry is as good as his or her last work. Behind Dikong’s back were smarter young turks lining up at Viva for the big break. So to speak Dikong’s currency at Viva Films was to become coterminous with the waning popularity of action stars at the time that belonged to the mainstream movie industry seeing small trickles of action films being produced until it virtually stopped, kaput.

    At the end of the line, the names of action greats like Rudy Fernandez, Philip Salvador, Bong Revilla Jr., Ronnie Ricketts, including Robin Padilla himself were no longer bankable at the box-office. The death of ‘Da King Fernando Poe, Jr. finally sealed it.

    Why do I belabor about Dikong’s death? This is my way of paying my last respect to him who paved the way for me to enter the sanctum and break bread with his bosom friend, the Queen of Intrigues, Inday Badiday, for the longest time. The rest is yet to be told.

    Parenthetically, I have this queasy thing about paying last respect to the dead even if they are that close to me. I cannot rationalize why. The last wake that I attended was Inday Badiday’s and that was about it. The most recent wakes where I was embarrassingly a no-show were that of colleagues Emmy Abuan, Ernie Pecho, Robert Pangis, Archie De Calma, Cesar Pambid, William Reyes, singer Boy Inocencio, et al.

    Thus I relied on first hand accounts of the early birds who first got wind of Dikong’s demise while they were holding court at their favorite donut house along Roces Avenue led by the most feared word-of-mouth film critique Tony Aguilar, walking showbiz historian Ed De Leon, social media savvy Roel Villacorta and Fernan de Guzman, in his official capacity as prexy of PMPC more than being real close to and fond of Dikong.

    They related how they witnessed Robin Padilla took it all upon himself like an ever grateful ward seeing to the first night of Dikong’s wake. Robin recalled fondly of the good and bad times as well-spent with Dikong as his mentor, manager and director. Tony thinks that Robin considered the dear departed Deo Fajardo, Jr. as the Elia Kazan of Philippine Cinema. Good words from Robin himself, as Dikong was finally laid to rest to remain forever etched in the memory of those who would surely miss him including us.

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