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Why Jeorge Estregan Lost in the 2011 MMFF Race_Some Musings on MANILA KINGPIN

December 31, 2011

Having handled the editing of Manila Kingpin since July which consisted of 36 shooting days of materials, up to the time Tikoy approved the Director’s Cut in October, I can enumerate some of the plausible reasons why Gov lost the Best Actor race. The following will also give you an idea of the Director’s Cut version.

1)      The senseless re-editing and the fast-edit of some of the most poignant scenes in the Director’s Cut, i.e.

a)      The opening scene [Viray-Asiong] which was cut like a trailer fully “destroyed”   the poignancy of the action. Not understanding the principles of parallel editing, images of an action happening in some other time were intercut between the main scene which spoiled and highly reduced the impact of the scene where Asiong played by Gov was being “punished” by Viray for contesting his reign as Tondo king. Left alone as a continous scene,  it is one of the most beautifully shot, most powerful, and dramatic scenes in the entire Director’s Cut version,  The contrapuntal use of sound – from noise to complete silence was gone of course.

b)      What I called the “Puntod” scene also suffered from the fast-edit. “Moments in cinema” were not recognized. When I say moments, that could be a matter of frames by the way, or nuances as Tikoy calls them. The slow bit of Asiong’s walk to the grave, where the building up of internal emotions before he finally touched the tomb, and the few moments of just looking at before touching the gravemarker, were reduced. I don’t remember showing Asiong’s tears fall. It was more of a “crying heart” or deep sorrow felt within that was showed…para mas masakit sa pakiramdam ng manonood. The feeling of sympathy is strongly generated. It was actually one of the scenes in the DC where I liked Gov’s acting.

2)      Melodramatic action. The acting of Gov reading the letter informing him of his mother’s death was something we found so unconvincing you won’t find it in the Director’s Cut. It was one of the scenes deleted in the DC.

3)      What we labeled as the “Bartolina” scene is the shot after the duel with Boy Zapanta. In the Director’s Cut, Asiong is shown in time progression, as he suffers phycially in condition, then slowly gaining back his well-being in the shadow boxing scene which was interspersed with flashback scenes that included Gov’s son. I wonder why they found it fit for the trailer and acknowledgment credits only when the boy has presence on screen. In the Producer’s Cut, it was cut just for the heck of cutting the scenes with no purpose other than just cut them—to make them fast-paced? Or the editing different?? Well, that type of edit is good and quite acceptable for trailer purposes only. The shadow boxing per se didn’t seem to work. It could have been deleted in the Producer’s Cut because the original purpose was bypassed anyway.

4)      The scene after the release of Asiong where he and the group met again was deleted in the Producer’s Cut and put instead at the Acknowledgment credits. It is one scene that showed JOY amongst all the members of the group, when they re-united, acted in so naturally you’d feel like a participant in the scene. Above all, it is an important scene that should have been kept but obviously gave way to the additional gunfight scene just because there was no “action” in it? The idea of action film seems to these people, to be just gunfights and noise…From the prison, they cut directly to what I call the “La Paloma” scene, where Ely sang the song. Fast edit at the expense of story????

5)      The additional gunfight scene [Jeorge Estregan vs. Archie Adamos] in a warehouse. Estregan’s acting is also not convincing. It is not quite original and different from the usual Pinoy action movies. In fact, it reminded of Fernando Poe Jr. instead. The scene just showed how much more budget they spent for the film. It’s one big scene that they shot without Tikoy’s knowledge.

6)      The “first kissing scene,” the particular scene commented on by a reader of my previous blog where she said Carla Abellana should get an award for “enduring the kisses” of Jeorge Estregan. In the Producer’s Cut, he smacked Carla 10-11 times. “Exag” was how this reader described it. In the Director’s Cut, those were cut down to only 3. (Which edit is faster in this case?) I will just post another blog to relate how it was edited. And how cutting it made me laugh because of Tikoy’s reaction to it. By the way, in the name of truth and fairness, there is no laplapan kiss and ngasaban in the Producer’s Cut. They were written I suppose to sensationalize so that their article would catch attention, and to have more readers and/or buyers to their tabloids [Abante and Remate]. The kissing at the wedding they used in the Producer’s Cut came from the first cut of the film. I used the other take.

In summary, the 15-20% contribution to the re-editing of Manila Kingpin I believe, successfully helped in making Gov ER lose. The edit greatly cut down his great chances to win the Best Actor award we dreamed, wished and envisioned him to receive. So, congratulations to the cutters for winning the award for making a trailer film! You quite succeeded in making Gov lose. Lastly, I do not believe that Gov is happy even if he didn’t get the Best Actor Award – from the bottom of his heart — because I saw how he really worked hard at it showcased in the very first scene they butchered. Sayang!!! For not believing in Tikoy, hindi nangyari ang hula ng Indian friend nyo. Yes! Good luck na lang ho!!! Better luck next time! Congrats Mr. John Regala!!!

By the way, thanks for the fee that I got for editing the Director’s Cut which I shared with my assistant. I’m the editor referred to by Gov:Binayaran namin yung unang editor…” [Source: Governor-ER-Ejercito-rejects-Tikoy-Aguiluzs-demand-to-remove-his-name-as-director-of-Manila-Kingpin] I used the fee to add up to my expenses to finish ULTIMO ADIOS, my “intrinsically slow-paced” advocacy film to promote the use of Filipino Sign Language and spread the legacy of Dr. Jose Rizal. The FSL version is the first ever translation of the poem in a visual form since 1897 when Andres Bonifacio wrote his own version in Filipino language. It was successfully and officially launched at the Rizal Shrine day before yesterday [Dec 29] in the presence of Rizal’s descendants-Saturnina Rizal branch. Shown whole day at Fort Santiago yesterday, Dec 30 Rizal Day, it is scheduled to screen at the Hongkong Arts Centre on February 24, 2012. UP Prof Vim Nadera is now connecting us with Lakbay Dangal group of Filipinos in Hongkong for its possible showing to Pinoys there.

Please sign the online petition to release the Director’s Cut – pinoy-cinephiles-release-the-directors-cut-of-manila-kingpin-the-asiong-salonga-story

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16 comments

  1. Now I understand why I found his acting really pale, I even told Ms Suzette Ranillo about it. Sayang sana mapanood ko ang Director’s cut.


  2. Wish din namin yun…let’s keep our fingers crossed na lang!


  3. Eventually, the producer will release the Director’s Cut considering the controversy that the film created. For sure, many will be anxious to see the Director’s Cut. Additional “kita” rin yun sa kanila pag nagkataon.


  4. You have a point there…


  5. Hello : )

    I hope you don’t take this the wrong way but doesn’t this blog post weaken your cause? (to get the Director’s Cut out there) Because while you reason out that it’s their editing that lost Mr. Estregan the best actor award, logic dictates that their editing is what got them the best editing & best picture award. They got 11 awards… personally I find any awards show that gives “Best Float” silly… so I don’t really care about MMFF : )


  6. Well, I don’t think so. I mused about what could have contributed to Jorge Estregan’s “defeat” as Best Actor, knowing fully well the sequences I talked about, the drama nuances they deleted, and the lost of impact their editing caused especially in the opening and end sequences. Other than Tikoy, me and my associate [and the producers, of course], no one knows — and that includes you and the members of the MMFF jury — the film footage better than we do [the additional shots they took without Tikoy’s knowledge excluded]. I wrote about shots that you may never see at all in fact.
    Tikoy, as a veteran director, knows well what is good and bad acting; he knows what his film needs; we know what is good for our film and for Jorge Estregan as Asiong character. We honestly wanted him to win that award, the reason why we avoided a lot of elements contributory to his acting inconsistencies as Asiong Salonga. Unfortunately, he must have listened to the majority who were not honest to tell him the truth about his melodramatic tendencies. Compare his action with John Regala who showed consistency in playing his role as Totoy Golem…Saludo ako noon pa!!!
    The cause we are fighting for is to have the Director’s Cut released; Win or lose, it will go down to Philippine film history that a filmmaker stood up to fight his producer who trampled on his intellectual property rights as film artist! With Tikoy’s name removed from the film they altered without his consent, the fight was already halfway won!


  7. All I’m saying is that from an outside perspective & judging by awards alone, the producers made the right call… what are your thoughts on the film (in it’s released version) sweeping the awards?


  8. I am happy, very happy for all those who deserved the awards, like John Regala, Carlo-the cinematographer, Rey Ventura-one of the screenwriters and the person I worked with on the set, Fritz and Mona-the PDs… As early as the first few sequences that were given to me, we could already see how it would fare against the “usual” MMFF films. Sad, that Gov lost! and that I say with sincerity because I really witnessed the hardwork he had put on this film. The editing??? I will elaborate on how the original director’s vision was altered, if not, destroyed — later…Moreover, if Tikoy was provided everything that he wanted for the film, like Ely Buendia scoring the whole movie, reshoots to clear the “pregnancy” problem, you would have watched a film miles better than what you saw!


  9. I forgot to ask… does the director’s cut remove the massive awkwardness of Geroge Estregan being older than the people he is supposed to be younger than? Like the guy beating him up in the beginning who says “May gatas ka pa sa labi” & yet he looks just as old as him. He also looks just as old as his father. The Mayor in the prison…Asiong kept going “Po” when he looked like he could be that guy’s father. I never understood why the Prison Mayor was so benevolent towards him & why he didn’t seemed at all interested in escaping himself. Also does the DC solve show a better kalesa gun fight & explain why none of the gangsters, with all their guns & merely being 15 feet away from each other in an open road, did not hit anyone, or even the horse?


  10. Hi! Your questions should all be directed to the producers, director and the writer — the first two re choice of stars, the writer re use of “Po.” Forgot the reason the writer gave me because I asked the same thing — but it has to do with true gangsters being respectful to each other. Re the kalesa scene, DC didn’t show the telephoto shot where the 2 calesas are seen as shown in the Producer’s Cut precisely because we also noticed that. We just tried to cheat visually by avoiding that particular shot. Why none of the gangsters were hit is not an editor’s call anymore…We raised the same questions…


  11. Sa tingin ko kahit anong ganda ng editing, wala na tayong magagawa sa performance ni ER. It just wasn’t that good, lalo na when you set Philip Salvador side by side with him. It shows what a weak actor he is. I’m not sure if it’s completely inherent. I think he has the potential to be a really good, even great actor. But perhaps he’s just out of practice, being out of the biz for so long. His acting felt stiff and unconvincing. And since he’s much much older, he cannot move with the same fluidity and grace as the young man he’s supposed to be portraying. The attack scene at the prison hospital bed,,, you can see how stiff his movements were.


  12. But editing helps in making an actor’s performance looks better by minimizing what’s obviously unconvincing and awkward, either by deleting shots that show them, or by completely deleting the entire scene if that wouldn’t affect the story flow. In case of the scene you pointed out, it’s an important scene with no alternative replacement; something quite impossible to do without. I agree though that practice definitely helps in improving any artist’s skill — be they dance, film, stage performers, or visual and music artists.


  13. tingin ko kaya niya ginagamit ‘yung “po” kapag kinakausap n’ya ‘yung mayor, e dahil mas nauna ‘to sa kanya dun sa kulungan. respeto sa senior ba.
    baka kaya hindi interesadong tumakas ‘yung mayor, e dahil wala na siyang uuwiang pamilya. ‘yung iba kasi sa kulungan na nakatira at nagtatrabaho (utility) kapag wala nang pamilya o ayaw na tanggapin ng pamilya.

    sa petsa pong ito, ‘di pa rin po ba nagbabago ang pananaw n’yo na may laban si gov as best actor kung director’s cut po ang naipalabas?


  14. Pwedeng dahilan rin nga seniority. Siguro tanungin ko na lang uli ang writer, si Rey Ventura tungkol dyan. Iba yung sinabi nya sa aking dahilan kasi. Yung tungkol sa di pagtakas ni Mayor [Jay Manalo], pinutol din nila sa Producer’s Cut e. Di na kasi nag isip. Pinutol lang nang pinutol para daw fast editing. Ayun! Ang daming nagsuffer na eksena kalalagay ng effects at walang hapay na pagputol. Rough/first cut lang naman ng director’s cut ang pinagbasihan nila. Wala talaga silang ginawa kundi yung dagdag na shots nila at visual epeks nga. Tungkol sa pananaw ko? So far, di pa nagbabago pananaw ko na may laban sana sya as Best Actor kung Director’s Cut ipinalabas. Consistency inisip namin para sa kanya noon, kaso obviously mas ginusto marami ang dramatic exposure nya…Dahil sa maling pagpili ng shots eto nakuha nya sa Cinema Evaluation Board: “Laguna governor E.R. Ejercito, who plays Asiong, “seems awkward in some scenes, but is supported well” by the cast, the CEB report said. [Source: http://entertainment.inquirer.net/26357/why-film-board-gave-%E2%80%98asiong-salonga%E2%80%99-remake-the-coveted-%E2%80%98a%E2%80%99-grade%5D “Some scenes” ang sinabi. At malamang yung inilista kong mga eksena kasama dun. Paano nga kapansin-pansin naman!


  15. nabasa n’yo na po ba ‘to?
    http://tunaynalalake.blogspot.com/2011/12/heto-na.html


  16. Oo, nun pa. Nakita nya ilang puntos ko di ba? May alam sa film appreciation obvious. Sana maraming tulad nya nanood, otherwise, walang pag-asa na maiakyat ang antas ng level ng quality ng pelikulang Pilipino, pati na level ng film appreciation ng mga kababayan natin kung babalik at babalik din sa dating anyo ang action movie sa pagpipilit nilang maglagay ng cliche.



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