Monday, June 2, 2008

Letter to Antonio

Let me share a letter I have received in my friendster from someone who has just seen "Ang Lihim ni Antonio" (Antonio's Secret):

Dear Lex,

Let me THANK you for such a beautfiul film. No other film has touched my heart, as deeply and as genuinely as yours. With all sheer honesty, I can totally relate with the film - in more ways than one. Only no one gets killed in the family. =D

Seriously though, at 25, I still have demons to battle with, skeletons to hide, and a career to purusue. I was Antonio and Jonbert altogether, and Tere is my mother personified. I have a great father though. =D

Your movie is WONDERFUL.

With POWERFUL yet SENSITIVE performances from all your actors.

Shamaine Buencamino is an acting god, as always, brilliant.

Josh Morales is truly a character - moving his image and person out of the role to become someone else.

Jiro Manio - what can I say? I think he acted before he could even learn to talk. A phenomenal acting progidy.

However, amongst all, the most powerful and most brilliant performance comes from the title character Antonio, as played by the wonderful Kenjie Garcia.

He truly is a best kept secret, a revelation to Philippine Cinema. I saw me in him 10 years ago. And now, I've started asking myself again.

Kenjie is so good I don't see him as Kenjie anymore. He's an amazing actor. A perfect marriage of talent and role. I can't praise him enough.

If I were to count me bucket of tears, I think I did around 3 drums. hehehe...

Thank you for mirroring so many of us, who might have had the same or at the very least similar experiences.

Thank you for speaking for us. For bringing to memory the fondest and darkets moments in my life and helping me understand myself and knowing I can make a difference, and that it's ok to be me, to be who you are, to be who I am.

Sorry if I talked to much. The movie (still) gives me goosebumps. No length of writing can express how much I love and appreciate your craft and your film, and the people behind it.

To the Producer, Director, Writers, and the people behind the film - as I have said, Congratulations. Thank you. I appreciate your craft. God bless you.

Your work brings to mind that of the great Lino Brocka's - how you work with a limited scope of people in a limited family unit, but with an extensive range of emotions, conflicts, and situations to a climactic revelation of (non)absolute redemption.

Hoe you conveyed issues on society, morality, the family, manhood, womanhood, incest, deceit, abuse, and homosexuality - all, so VIVIDLY and powerful, in 100mins.

To Dir. Joselito Alterejos, Mr. Lex Bonife, Mr. Arvin Viola, Mr. Ajit Hardazani, and to VIVA Films, congratulations.

I feel bad for not beeing able to see the film on the premiere. I honestly didn't hear/know of it. I missed half of my life.

Thanks again. I hope that someday, I get the chance to meet all - Cast, behind the scene team- of you in person to thank you.

In God's perfect time, I will be able to thank all of you.

May all of your careers shoot up to the heavens,


Dear Jeff,

Thank you very much for appreciating this small film of ours. Receiving such letter is the best reward in doing this kind of project.

When I was young, way back in the 80’s, the images of gay men in mainstream cinema were comic and slapstick. They were best represented by Roderick Paulate’s characterization of “Petrang Kabayo” and Dolphy’s iconic “Facifica Falayfay”. These film characters were certainly far from who I was and who I wanted to be as a gay man.

It was only before the end of the century that Filipino gay men were more accurately represented in film through “Ang Lalake sa Buhay ni Selya” (by Carlitos Siguion-Reyna) and Pusong Mamon (by Joel Lamangan). And it was just in 2002, that Pinoy films started to honestly represent the angst of the urban gay men through Crisaldo Pablo’s “Duda” and “Bath house”.

Writing the screenplay of “Ang Lalake sa Parola” (The Man in the Lighthouse) and “Ang Lihim ni Antonio” (Antonio’s Secret) represents my sincere effort to connect to other gay men out there, to share their voice and to continuously remind our society about who we really are and why we deserve acceptance not just tolerance. And if you'll allow me to qualify further, what I actually demand for is acceptance without compromises. And there's a long way to go from here.

In love, light and freedom,

Lex Bonife

PS Please come to the premiere of "Kambyo". Be my guest.

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