Richard Yap signs up with Regal to star in 14-year-old Chinoy film franchise
“I was just waiting for Richard Yap,” was Regal Entertainment matriarch Lily Monteverde’s winning one-liner on Tuesday following the official announcement that one of Philippine cinema’s most successful franchises, Mano Po, is finally returning to the big screen.
Naturally, the question as to why it has taken the whole of seven years for Regal to produce the notable film anthology anew was first to come up when Monteverde’s daughter and Regal’s chief operation officer Roselle broke the big news to select members of the Entertainment press.
And much as the day’s most popular Chinese-Filipino celebrity was flattered over the showbiz stalwart’s statement, Yap humbly expressed his gratitude to the mother-and-daughter tandem for choosing him to lead the –seventh instalment of Mano Po, which always seeks to achieve forge a better understanding of Chinese-Filipinos in society.
“Whenever I can in the work that I do, I always take the opportunity to be part of a project that will help Filipinos understand the Chinoy way of life. That we may have certain traditions or practices that we follow because of our Chinese ancestry but that we are first and foremost Filipinos at heart,” the 49-year-old actor succinctly explained.
In agreement with her fellow Chinoy, Roselle acknowledged that while there has always been an unspoken divide between pure Filipinos and Chinoys, they themselves go through a certain stage of confusion growing up with the challenge of embracing both cultures.
“There was a time when I even refused to be called Chinese because I’ve always felt Filipino in the first place,” said Roselle, who also reminded the gathering that her mother’s two-fold intention in producing the first-ever Mano Po in 2002 was to pay tribute to her Chinese ancestors (the storyline had been inspired by her grandparents’ plight to the Philippines), while bridging the diversity between the two cultures.
“We all have our own stories to tell growing up as Chinoys—some of which have become part of the stories of the last seven Mano Po’s—but what makes Richard’s entry into the franchise different is that for the first time, we will see the hardships of the Chinoy man, as compared to the women-centered instalments we have had in the past.”
Significantly, she added, “I tell you, iba pag ang nakita mo na lalaki ang nahihirapan.”
In response, Yap said he is very eager to take on the primary role in Mano Po 8, which he and the Monteverdes hope will meet the September deadline as a completed movie for this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival, with experiences culled from his personal experiences.
“I hope to do justice to the story they presented to me given what I had seen growing up from my father and uncles, as well as my own experiences,” he said. “My Chinese parents were very traditional, so much so that when I married a pure Filipina, I was excluded from the family business.”
Forced to raise a family on his own, the experience, no matter how hard, taught the would-be businessman the value of hard work and perseverance—the same principles he had taken with him in his belated foray into show business at age 44.
Asked whether his success as an actor had brought him back to his parents’ favor, Yap openly shared that it was his son who made that happen.
“My parents passed away one after the other shortly before I joined show business. But fortunately, we were reconciled before then when I had my son. As you know, among the Chinese, it is important to have a male heir to carry the family name, and among my brothers, I was the only one who was blessed with a son.”
With Yap’s history as a compelling springboard for what is sure to be an intense drama in Mano Po 8, the Monteverdes are certain the long wait for their award-winning franchise will be worth it. [See sidebar for list of recognitions].
“Even our director, Ian Loreñas is Chinoy, and he is just as eager as Richard is in showing the struggles of the Chinese-Filipino from a male point of view, and hopefully show people why they are the way they are.”
In closing, the man of the hour expressed his hopes that this generation’s Mano Po 8, which comes at a time of tension even in the national scale between the Philippines and China, will show viewers that the Chinese-Filipino community has never been out to compete in society, whether in business and other matters.
“Like I said, we are Filipinos at heart and we will always support this country,” Yap declared.