I Edited TIKOY’S DIRECTOR’S CUT of Manila Kingpin. Slow-Paced daw? Talaga?

December 22, 2011

At last! I’m done with all the necessary NCCA paperwork and accounting requirements that I need, to clear the liquidation of my expenses for the film grant on Project Rizal. It has occupied my time for days on end, and finally managed to submit them yesterday afternoon! I now have time to write and react on the hullabaloo about the re-editing of Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga  Story.

The other night, as I arrived home from a session with my Rizal film’s indie, alternative music scorers, Roselle Pineda, UP Arts Studies Professor / artist and JM Diego, vocalist / musician of Los Indios Bravos band, I received a text message from Tikoy asking me to read the statements made by Gov. Jeorge Estregan about Manila Kingpin. Gov. repeateadly stressed on the film’s need for re-editing dahil nakakaantok daw? 2hr 40 mins, some other online reports stated. And that they needed four editors to re-edit it? “NAMAN!” sabi nga ni President Benigno Aquino. But was he really referring to the Director’s Cut? Or, the Producer’s Cut that he supervised in editing?

For everybody’s information, the Director’s Cut, or the final film edit approved by Tikoy is 1:52 mins long, nearly as long as our film, Gawad Urian Best Picture, “Segurista.” Without question, we met the line producer’s requirement of six 20-min film reels. Manila Kingpin, like any of Tikoy’s film that I have edited was cut based on what we thought would suit international standards. Like all the other films he directed, we cut it based on WHAT THE FILM DEMANDED, NOT WHAT THE PRODUCERS WANTED IT TO BE. As such, he wanted unnecessary scenes out [dapat lang di ba?]. Exposed to international films, he knows quite well the universal standards and film criteria, himself having served as a jury in foreign festivals aside from being the founder of the annual CineManila International Filmfest—that offer good, quality films to the Filipino audience, something which cannot flourish here because of producer’s interferences, tastes or business motives.

Conflict of interests and purposes of the Director [after quality] and the Producer [Return of Investment or ROI siguro] finally led to an agreement that there would be a Director’s Cut and a Producer’s Cut. I concentrated on the Director’s Cut; my assistant worked on the Producer’s Cut. “Brutal” editing must be done, we decided because of foreign film festival length requirements. “BRUTAL!” yes! That’s precisely the word Tikoy used. As a result, some of the sequences had to be sacrificed, including what the producers liked, wanted, or loved perhaps. They were either HEAVILY TRIMMED DOWN or EDITED OUT for the following reasons: 1) removing them would not affect the story in anyway; 2) tele-novela acting; 3) corny dialogues; 4) unbelievable, amusing, at times laughable acting antics that reminds of the usual, traditional action fighting scenes which Tikoy were trying to avoid; 5) return to nega persona or the previous acting image of Gov whom Tikoy directed so well that his former image in films [na mala-demonyo] turned into a different man. Truly, a re-invention of Gov’s image. You have to see it to believe.

In fact, after watching the raw footage during the first shooting days, we could already see the great chances of Gov to win an award as Best Actor, his first (?) in case. May panghihinayang lang that time because news got confirmed that Asiong did not make it to the MMFF. Anyway, all the supporting actors of the film are exceptionally good [real good choice indeed!] that they are most likely to be nominated for their acting too. But I would like to salute John Regala —and I’ve said this before in my earlier post—for being most consistent and excellent in his acting as Totoy Golem. For that, I pray that he wins the Best Supporting Actor Award. And I pray the same thing for Gov because honestly, he deserves it.

Now, what about the Producer’s Cut  which I think must be the “FIRST” edit that Gov could be referring to? [Read: “…nakumpirma ang usap-usapang hindi nagustuhan ni ER ang unang pagkaka-edit ng kanyang pelikula.” Source: http://www.pep.ph/news/32312/. The truth is, sequences removed or not used in the Director’s Cut were put back according to my assistant who worked under the producer’s supervision.  Hence, it ended up as no different and as long as the original first cut which was 2hr 30 mins long. That was how the Producer’s cut ended up; that was the producer’s edit. E di mahaba nga! Obviously, they themselves did not like what they have edited? So, they got four editors to re-edit it, they say…” para hindi raw antukin ang mga manonood nito sa haba.” (Source: Governor ER Ejercito rejects Tikoy Aguiluz’s demand to remove his name as director of Manila Kingpin).

The Director’s Cut could have been readied for preview during the CineManila Film Festival had the producer willed it; but clearly they have shelved it. [Showing it would have proven the wrong info that they are feeding the people]. Tikoy deserves to have the Director’s Cut on a film that has sapped a lot of his creative energy to introduce a change in Philippine action movies in terms of look, and content, and hopefully spark their return in Philippine cinema. That’s where his name should be kept. Not on a version that he was not a part of the total creative process. Not on a version that he is disowning.

Lengthened or placed back on the re-edited version to be shown on December 25 therefore, as I can imagine them would be sequences of Carla Abellana (I wouldn’t be surprised if the additional scenes shot included her); those of Philip Salvador’s, and the scene with Asiong’s other woman named Fe. Unfortunately, if they did not, or could not understand the concept of Tikoy re the floating of “Asiong’s soul” in the morgue scene, that would be cut short or would suffer from the fast-paced edit. I too can imagine the possible shortening of the build-up of sorrow or its aura during Asiong’s funeral scene. I just hope that the fast-paced edit would be applied only when necessary so as to avoid having “trailers” within the film.

I worked on Tikoy’s version – the Director’s Cut. When he gave his stamp of approval on the film’s final edit, my work [which started from pre-production period, specifically from the writing stage] ended. Tikoy, a serious creative Director knows what is best for his film and will do everything to achieve his goal for the sake of the film first and foremost. Together as a team, we have been doing that. Manila Kingpin was no exception.

[Sign the online petition: Release the Director’s Cut]

[Click to see our photos during the last day of Director’s Cut EditLast Day Edit Fotos)

[To read a related post, click editing-a-tikoy-aguiluz-film_manila-kingpin-directors-cut]. This blog was written after I watched the Producer’s Cut which made me gauge what the film lost. It is in fact, the first cut which I shortened to become the Director’s Cut minus all the superfluous or unnecessary scenes/shots enumerated above. The editing work that can only be rightfully attributed to them are the senseless visual transitions like the fades in/out, the additional seq [only one sequence, mind you!] that they have added, and… [well, the rest are listed in my other blog]. So, for them to claim that they re-edited the film starting from scratch is not just a lie; it is an illusion. No wonder, reputable online sites still credit us as part of the production team despite the producer’s announcement, manila-kingpin-the-asiong-salonga-story [in mubi.com]; Manila_Kingpin:_The_Asiong_Salonga_Story [in wikipedia]; fullcredits#cast [in imdb.com].

[An update to this blog. It’s September 2012. Nine months after the above controversy erupted is the strange move to include my name in the editor’s list of 2012 FAMAS winners which confirmed, therefore proved the lie re the claim on the  “starting from scratch” Manila Kingpin re-editing. Including my name in the list of 2012 FAMAS awardees? [click to read] is nothing else but a  recognition or an admission of the fact that there was NO 100% revision or re-editing of the Producer’s Cut or “doing the WHOLE post production process all over again..” as what this post-prod group claimed. You should see the First Cut of the Director’s version to understand what I mean!].

Enough on this matter.

Let me now fully spend my time working on my small film [with a budget of less than a million] on the writings of the greatest man who ever lived in Laguna — RIZAL! A Poetry-in-Film Project, I am working on four language version translations [FSL, Filipino, English and Spanish] of five of his well-known poems. In fact, I’ll have the official launching of my short film, the 132nd translation but the first-ever interpretation in Filipino Sign Language of ULTIMO ADIOS this coming December 29 at the Rizal Shrine in Fort Santiago, as part of the National Celebrations of his martyrdom. Descendants of Saturnina Rizal, his eldest sister has already accepted our invitation to join us in the program. Since Gov. Estregan is Laguna’s Governor, I hope he could watch my “slow-paced” film, ULTIMO ADIOS for him to have a feel of how silence, slow pacing, and music ONLY could keep an audience awake. Without Ratatatat scenes! No fast cutting except when he was shot to death of course! Fast-paced cuts and rhythm are not the sole reasons why the audience are kept awake, mawalang-galang lang po! Lav Diaz, may gusto ka idagdag?

Though small and “slow-paced” my film is, I can guarantee anyone that it can move sensitive and nationalistic Filipinos. My version is a film for all seasons, all ages; it is meant for all people- irrespective of race; for the marginalized and those who are not, for both students and scholars. It is a timeless film meant for those, who like Rizal truly and deeply love his country and his people. When fully finished, the omnibus film where Ultimo Adios is a part of will be titled A MI PATRIA or INANG-BAYAN.



  1. so the one that will be shown in theaters, which version will that be? if its not the director’s cut, where can we see that one? been waiting a long time for something like this…a serious filipino action film…not a piece of…….=)

  2. Not the Director’s Cut definitely!

  3. It’s great to have the issue clarified than hearing various unconfirmed talks about the film. I hate to think that the producer is making this X’s Cut vs. Y’s cut issue to create buzz for the film.

  4. […] editor-collaborator Miranda Medina clears out on her blog what really happened with this film: I Edited TIKOY She clarifies that together with Aguiluz they edited the movie to leave out unnecessary elements […]

  5. I wasn’t informed na ganito pala kalala ‘yung isyu with Manila Kingpin. All the while ang alam ko is the issue about the scoring. Actually i really thought pa nga na the treatment na gusto ni direk is mockery of the action film in the Philippines, which was really evident sa Producers cut (base sa kabuuhan ng pelikula). Kaya pala may inconsistencies.. No wonder. Filipino viewing public deserves the Director’s cut!

  6. Carla deserves an award for this film. after enduring kissing scenes with Gov ER, she SHOULD get an award. She deserves it! She deserves it!!!!

  7. “Enduring?” – That’s a funny description. But she’s really a good actress. Her acting was consistent in all the takes.

  8. […] kissing scenes with Gov ER, she SHOULD get an award. She deserves it! She deserves it!!!! [See: i-edited-tikoys-directors-cut-of-manila-kingpin-slow-paced-daw-talaga]  It’s pretty obvious – that’s the only thing that stood out in the mind of this […]

  9. a faster producer’s cut

  10. have watched ‘manila kingpin’ last night, and i was surprised by the number of viewers in the theater as i was expecting much less to be honest. we may have different reasons for watching but one that binds us together – we are thirsty for a quality mmff movie.

    the carla abellana scenes and love scene w/ mistress (is “Fe” valerie or jaycee? sorry didn’t watch the credits) i think were included. i wonder how the ‘floating soul’ in the morgue, or the build-up of sorrow during asiong’s funeral would make me feel when i see them on screen.

    apparently, this is a tragic case of misunderstanding between producer and director. sayang.

    i sincerely hope the director’s cut will be released soon. i’ll be first to watch!

    thank you for making ‘manila kingpin’ (or whatever’s left of it).

  11. True! Bored na Filipino audience sa year in, year out yun at yun din ang palabas, at sila-sila rin taon-taon nakikita, kaya di nakakataka yun na marami manood. Expected na namin yun.
    Sayang talaga! Akala namin malinaw na 2 different versions ang gagawin: isang pangfestival, isang pangmarket talaga..

  12. i have watched all of direk tikoy’s films with you as an editor and have also watched your documentaries and loved all of it…sayang lang because the audience deserves better…sana the director’s cut will be given the chance to be screened…

  13. Am rather pessimistic about it…However, I wish 2012 produces action movies again; level a notch higher to whatever Manila Kingpin has achieved; and that producers must fully trust their directors.

  14. We could certainly see your enthusiasm within the work you write. The sector hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.

  15. […] Manila Kingpin kaya inantok ang manonood dahilan kaya daw pinalitan ako ng mas magagaling!!! [Read: i-edited-tikoys-directors-cut-of-manila-kingpin-slow-paced-daw-talaga] Ang galing nga! Ang galing maglagay ng hindi dapat ilagay dahilan sa pagkawala ng consistency ng […]

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