The Inbox

Awards and Behn Cervantes

The way they were.Behn Cervantes (center) with Lino Brocka (left) and a friend during their UP days. (Photo from …

By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

One wonders how actor-director Behn Cervantes feels about the sudden deluge of recognition coming his way.

Last June, the University of the Philippines gave him a Life Achievement Award. A few years earlier, he got another Aliw Awards life achievement citation.

But as he was wont to say earlier, “I work for a project and a vision, not necessarily with awards in mind. But of course, awards are welcome. After all, we work in what is basically a thankless and profit-less passion. Sometimes, our love is not equally returned so recognition is fine.”

At one time in another awards night, he hissed, “Pero sana perahin na lang nila nooooo?”

Now turning 75 on August 26, Cervantes -- who megged the landmark film, “Sakada” -- is presently confined at the Asian Hospital in Alabang for septic infection of the blood which in layman's language is complication from pneumonia. No visitors are allowed at the moment.

Along with National Artist for Theater Wilfredo Ma. Guerrero, Cervantes’s name is synonymous with UP theater and the anti-Marcos protests he joined along with filmmaker and National Artist for Film Lino Brocka who is a UP classmate in the early 60s.

Poster of Cervantes' landmark film, Sakada.Cervantes did not limit his theater involvement to productions like Pagsambang Bayan and Sigaw ng Bayan which he labeled as his ibagsak output.

Some of his landmark performances include roles in “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” and the title role in “The Mikado” mounted at the Metropolitan Theater. He directed such theater outputs as “Guys and Dolls,” “The Short, Short Life of Citizen Juan” and “Iskolar ng Bayan, ” among others.

But he loved to recall his “informal” stage debuts when at an early age, his elder sisters made him recite a piece a line of which goes, “I shot an arrow into the air” on top of their parent’s large iron bed which served as their stage during their Saturday performances for their neighbors in Iloilo. “That was my theatrical debut,” Behn recalled earlier. “I also sang in our version of the cherubim choir in our Protestant Church in La Paz, Iloilo. Yes, I started early!”

He said his first play was “Hay Fever” performed in Central Methodist Church in what is now T.M. Kalaw. In the cast was Eleanor “Didi” Reyes, the youngest sister of Norman Reyes, the youthful radio announcer who witnessed (with Leon Ma. Guerrero and Raul Manglapus) the Fall of Bataan. “ After a couple of plays like A Happy Journey from Trenton to Camden by Thorton Wilder and Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot in the UP Dramatic Club, I directed a scene from Mister Roberts. “

Cast as Ensign Pulver in that play was Lino Brocka. “I had an auspicious beginning as a director, I must say,” Behn said.

Behn Cervantes with singer Dulce and friends after receiving the Life Achievement Award from the UP Alumni Association. …As a student, he said he bravely directed Lawani, an original musical, Idiot’s Delight, A Hatful of Rain and The Play Is the Thing.

When he returned from the United States, he turned to Broadway musicals like Bye Bye Birdie, Once Upon a Mattress, Guys and Dolls and the first production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Soon after, he became an activist and directed Theatre in the Streets and Theatre of Protest. “ I continued to direct such plays after Martial Law was declared and received an A-B-C-B Degree for plays as Pagsambang Bayan, Sigaw ng Bayan and Estados Unidos versus Juan Matapang Cruz and other Ibagsak plays.”

A political prisoner during Martial Law, ABCB to him stands for Aguinaldo, Bicutan, Crame and Bonifacio, the military camps he was detained throughout those years.

Before the UP Alumni Award, Behn earlier got an Aliw trophy for directing the play, Agnes of God. He was also recipient of the CCP centennial award, several citations from activist groups including recognition from the East-West Center Alumni Association.

Of his film-making days, he singled out directing Sakada as his most memorable. “Sakada I would single out because of the challenge of working with movie icons like Rosa Rosal, Gloria Romero, Pancho Magalona as well as with my friend, Robert Arevalo.”

“An experience of a lifetime was producing Kahapon, Ngayon at Bukas inside Camp Bicutan with Nelia Sancho, Satur Ocampo, Pepe Luneta, Ed de la Torre and other activists in the cast. The play also reconciled me with my father who always wondered why I was an activist,” he added.

He noted how today’s theater productions are more professional. But he said the young people should learn from the theater pioneers of the past. “In the theater front, they have to recognize the Avellanas, Naty Rogers and Severino Montano who were spurred to work because they love the art and practically did it for freeeeeeee!”

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

(Those who want to help Behn Cervantes, you can get in touch with the director’s niece, Rosario J. Marquez cell no. 09173200121). Ms. Marquez's account no. is Union Bank # 01-802-002383-6 (current account) under account name Rosario J. Marquez.)

Loading...

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.

  • Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel
    Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel

    The $150,000 pearl-studded, custom-made Calvin Klein dress worn by Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o at this year's Academy Awards has been stolen, police said on Thursday. The gown, embellished with 6,000 natural white pearls, was stolen from Nyong'o's room at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, during the day on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in West Hollywood said. "Ms Nyong'o was not in the room at the time of the theft," Deputy John Mitchell …

  • US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians
    US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians

    The US-led coalition has carried out air strikes against the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria, where the jihadists have launched a new offensive and kidnapped 220 Assyrian Christians. The raids on Thursday struck areas around the town of Tal Tamr in Hasakeh province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, without giving information on possible casualties. The town remains under the control of Kurdish forces, but at least 10 surrounding villages have been seized by IS, along …

  • Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts
    Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts

    BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic State militants seized more Christians from their homes in northeastern Syria in the past three days, bringing the total number abducted by the extremist group to over 220, activists said Thursday. …

  • 3 Pinays on Forbes power women list
    3 Pinays on Forbes power women list

    Three Filipina executives, who are all daughters of known business tycoons in the country, made it to Forbes’ list of the 50 most powerful businesswomen in Asia. Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chairman of SM Investments and chairman of BDO Universal Bank, was included in the list for the fourth year in a row since its inception. “Under her (Sy-Coson) lead SMIC became the largest listed company on the Philippine Stock Exchange by market cap. Also in the 2015 list is 70-year-old Helen Yuchengco-Dee, …

  • 13 of 15 SAF survivors to leave PNP hospital
    13 of 15 SAF survivors to leave PNP hospital

    Thirteen of the 15 Special Action Force (SAF) policemen who survived the bloody firefight with Muslim rebels in Mamasapano last month are ready to go home after a month of medical treatment, a police official said yesterday. Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said the two remaining survivors will have to stay in hospital for further treatment, one of whom has shrapnel embedded near his spine. One of the two SAF commando survivors is still …

  • US sends spy plane to patrol disputed sea
    US sends spy plane to patrol disputed sea

    The United States has deployed its newest and most advanced surveillance aircraft for patrols over the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea. The P-8A Poseidon aircraft completed more than 180 flight hours from Feb. 1 to 21 from Clark Air Base, according to the US Navy’s 7th Fleet. …

  • Review: SKK Mobile V2, a P3,999 watered-down LG G2
    Review: SKK Mobile V2, a P3,999 watered-down LG G2

    How well does this P3,999 offering from an underdog in the local mobile industry stack up against the competition? Let's find out. …

  • No coercion, force in sea row – France
    No coercion, force in sea row – France

    France renewed its call for a peaceful resolution of the West Philippine Sea dispute during a meeting between its leader President Francois Hollande and President Aquino at Malacañang. “We reiterated the importance of maintaining peace and stability in Southeast Asia and promoting maritime security, freedom of navigation and the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea),” Aquino said in a statement …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options