The Inbox

2012 Cinemalaya honors O’Hara with a film retrospective

A playful Mario O'Hara during a break from rehearsals at CCP.

By Ibarra C. Mateo,VERA Files

Photos by Jude Bautista

Many Filipino cinema critics and  cineastes are of the opinion that actor-screenwriter-playwright-director Mario O'Hara should have won an award for his cutting-edge indie film with a magic-realist hue, "Ang Paglilitis ni Andres Bonifacio," in the 2010 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival and Competition.

"Ang Paglilitis" masterfully tells the story, using the actual minutes of the military court trial for alleged treason, of Andres Bonifacio and his brother Procopio following their capture, after Andres lost to Emilio Aguinaldo the presidency of the revolutionary government at the Tejeros Convention.

"Ang Paglilitis" have been likened by critics and veteran indie film directors themselves to Carl Theodore Dreyer's "The Passion of Joan of Arc." O'Hara's supporters consider it one of the better films among the 2010 Cinemalaya entries.

Those who were at the 2010 Cinemalaya awards night remember the moment that  O'Hara got up from his seat, quietly strode to the exit, and calmly but repeatedly paced the cavernous foyer of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater.

His silent demeanor was deafening.

After 10 long minutes or so, he walked back to his seat in the special row dedicated to the most senior film directors in the country.

Amid the public controversy, O'Hara never questioned nor hinted doubts about the 2010 Cinemalaya jury decision. This was a very typical O'Hara attitude.

He always walked away from controversy, never explained to anyone his moves, but steadfastly kept on doing what he thought was right and just, endearing him to an extremely wide cross-section of the Philippine radio, television, stage, and cinema communities.

Starting tomorrow,July 20, O'Hara  returns to the CCP Main Theater, together with some of his unforgettable films including, "Babae sa Breakwater" in a  special retrospective on his works as  actor, screenwriter, and director.

O'Hara with lead stars of '"Ang Paglilitis ni Andres Bonifacio."O'Hara, 66,  died on June 26 of cardiac arrest as a complication of acute leukemia at the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Pasay City.

O'Hara started his career as a voice talent in 196, when he was 17 years old in Manila Broadcasting Corp and DzRH, while he was a third-year student of chemical engineering in Adamson University, before being lured by television and eventually by theater and cinema.

He directed episodes or installments of television series "Lovingly Yours, Helen," "Flordeluna," and "Alitaptap sa Gabing Madilim." In 1968, he met film director Lino Brocka at DzRH who offered him a job as "a series announcer" in Brocka's television show "Balintataw".

O'Hara joined the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) in 1969 and acted various roles for stage plays mounted by PETA, Dulaang UP, Tanghalang Pilipino, and other theater groups.

to the late O'Hara with a special retrospective on his works as "an actor, screenwriter, and director" beginning with gala premiere on Friday, 7:30 pm, of "Babae" to officially signal the opening of this year's Cinemalaya at the CCP Main Theater.

The following day (July 21), the screening of "Babae" at the Trinoma Cinema 1 at 5:30 pm starts Cinemalaya festivities in venues outside of its original home, the CCP.

Chris B. Millado, CCP vice president and artistic director, said the 2012 Cinemalaya organizing committee, the CCP, and the Philippine cinema community celebrates Mario O'Hara and his multifaceted contribution to Philippine cinema as an actor, scriptwriter, and director. Mario O'Hara's films are an invitation to those nocturnal wanderings  —  into worlds idiosyncratic and sublime," said Millado in an interview.

Babae" is about the plight of Manila's "invisible" underclass which lives along the Roxas Blvd. breakwater, only a few meters away from the CCP complex. O'Hara, when an opportunity arose, would fondly tell his companions whoever they maybe as they walked the streets around the CCP complex, that he crafted his only film that was shown in Cannes over there, pointing to the direction of the breakwater.

Produced by Entertainment Warehouse, Inc., "Babae" starred Gardo Versoza, Amy Austria, Lou Veloso, Lucita Soriano, Alchris Galura, Jonard Lomangaya, Ian Valdez, and introduced then-neophytes Katherine Luna and Kristoffer King as lead actress and lead actor, respectively.

Nora Aunor, Mario O'Hara, and Dr. Nicanor Tiongson.In the interview, Millado, who is also the 2012 Cinemalaya festival director, said: "O'Hara an actor, brought gravitas to his roles — even when he was portraying the most marginalized characters like the leper in 'Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang' and the hustler in 'Tubog sa Ginto.' It was, therefore, not surprising that he struck a deep artistic liaison and friendship with the actress Nora Aunor, and drew out from her one of her most unforgettable portrayals in 'Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos."

"It was with the same self-effacing dignity that he portrayed the characters in his work as a scriptwriter and director. Often, unflinching in his portrayal of personas living on the fringes of society — the slums (Insiang), cemetery (Babae sa Bubungang Lata), found spaces of the boulevard (Babae sa Breakwater) ¬ O'Hara created enigmatic characters that were comfortable with their contradictions," he added.

"It makes one wonder where he got his ideas. I suspect a lot of those characters and situations unfolded with the streets during the long walks he would usually take after rehearsing in the theater," Millado said.

Among Ohara's films that would be included in the 2012 Cinemalaya retrospective are: Tubog sa Ginto," "Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang," "Insiang," and "Tatlo, Dalawa, Isa."

Millado is directing a musical written by O'Hara for Tanghalang Pilipino called "Stageshow" to  be mounted at the CCP's Tanghalang Aurelio V. Tolentino from Oct. 10 to 21 this year.

"Stageshow", O'Hara's last major written work for theater, is a poignant and emotionally charged play which sheds light on the plight of a small group of dedicated Filipino artists as their careers ebb, with the disappearance of what used to be the most popular, but now forgotten Philippine theater form, the stageshow.

O'Hara's musical is one of the official entries to the National Theater Festival to be held this coming November.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Nonviolent disciplining of kids pushed

    Child rights advocates called on senators to pass and strongly endorse a law that will institutionalize positive and nonviolent methods of disciplining children.The Child Rights Network (CRN), Plan International Philippines (PIP), Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLPCD), and Lihok Pilipinas Foundation led the call for the enactment of the Positive Discipline Bill.Several Quezon City Council members led by Majority Floor Leader Jesus Manuel Suntay, Victor Ferrer …

  • Method to their madness

    [caption id="attachment_256768" align="alignright" width="212"] Illustration by Rod Cañalita[/caption] EMMANUEL PORTUGAL Country Manager for the Philippines, VMware I look after the garden. I’d like to think that I have a green thumb—no plants have died so far! The ones I like now that I planted a few months ago is the Blue Iris. Like the town in the movie, my Blue Iris shows up in the morning and only appears for one day. …

  • JGFP Summer Tour on today

    The summer tour for local junior golfers kicks off with the holding of the ICTSI-JGFP Baguio Junior Open today and tomorrow at the treacherous Baguio Country Club course in Baguio.Sixty players aged 6 to 17 years old are entered in the 36-hole tourney serving as the opening leg of the summer circuit organized by the Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines with the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. Foundation as main sponsor. ... …

  • PH now market ready to absorb infra bonds

    The Philippine market is now ready to absorb infrastructure bonds that will be issued by private companies amid a growing pipeline of infra-related projects under the government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program. President Benigno Aquino III last week said the government is still committed to spend more on the country’s infrastructure, with 16 PPP projects currently on the pipeline and nine that have already been awarded. Over the years, some of the country’s biggest infrastructure …

  • Filipinos are saving more – BSP survey

    More Filipinos have the extra cash to save for that proverbial rainy day, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Philippines (BSP). Based on a quarterly survey on consumer confidence, domestic households with savings have the means to increase family reserves and to bring up the amount to historical highs. The central bank said improved family income, a generally positive outlook on the economy, inflation and foreign exchange rates encouraged saving behavior during the first three months of 2015. …

  • AXA Philippines growing alongside its parent firm

    Philippine AXA Life Insurance Corp. is growing side by side with its parent firm, global insurance firm AXA, after posting significant growth in its total premium income amid an increasing market share in the country. A statement showed that in the Philippines, multi-billion firm AXA Group saw P18.35 billion in total premium income. The local entity of AXA, AXA Philippines is a joint venture between AXA Group and the Metrobank Group. In 2014, it saw an increase in market share to 11.6 …

  • End to traffic jam in sight? Japan to lend P4B to PHL for road projects

    The Japanese government will be providing some P4 billion to the Philippines for road projects aimed at decongesting monstrous jams in Metro Manila.Noriaki Niwa, chief representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), said the loan will cover major interchanges to address traffic congestion in Metro Manila, including flyovers, and road links.Among them are the interchanges on EDSA-Roosevelt/Congressional, EDSA-West/North, and C-5-Green Meadows and North/Mindanao Avenue. ... …

  • US won’t provide flexibility for countries interested in TPP

    Washington D.C.—The US government will not provide any flexibility for potential member countries, like the Philippines, in their bid to become part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a senior official said. Economic and Business Affairs Deputy Assistant Secretary William E. Craft, Jr., said all restrictions stated under the TPP trade deal will be maintained and have to be met by the current and future member countries. Earlier, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said that the …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options