November 21, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Mother Lily: no mainstream, no indie, but only Philippine Cinema

AFTER THE online bashing she received for her alleged belittling of independent films in last year’s Metro Manila Film Festival lineup, “Mother” Lily Monteverde has one thing to say to her critics: “Let me refresh those with short memories.”

The 79-year-old film producer noted that she was one of the first to embrace independent movies in the 1990s in her so-called “pito-pito” films -- a setup where shooting would be done in just seven days, keeping costs down. This, she said, opened doors for some excellent filmmakers in the country to create films they otherwise would not have been able to make, filmmakers like Lav Diaz (his pito-pito movie is Ang Kriminal ng Baryo Concepcion), Mario O’Hara (Ang Babae sa Bubungang Lata), and Jeffrey Jeturian (Sana Pag-ibig Na).

“I pray that there will come a time that there will be no mainstream and indie, but [only] Philippine Cinema,” she said in a lengthy acceptance speech on May 12 when she was given a plaque of recognition by the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) for her contribution in the movie industry. The recognition was also a Mother’s Day tribute to the “mother” of the Philippine local cinema. The Regal Entertainment matriarch has produced over 1,000 movies over five and a half decades, including the movie series Shake, Rattle, and Roll and Mano Po, and Ako Legal Wife, among others.

Some of the most prominent names in the industry have worked with Mother Lilly, including directors Lino Brocka, Mario J. Delos Reyes, Jun Robles Lana, Joel Lamangan and “Regal babies” like actors Richard Gomez, Maricel Soriano, Albert and William Martinez, and Gabby Concepcion, among many others.

“What is the future of the movie industry? We shall see,” she said, adding that her greatest achievements include not “the prestige and power -- I’ve been there, done that -- but how your work stands the test of time.” -- Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman