MANILA, Philippines – Filipino filmmaker Celso Ad. Castillo passed away, at 2 a.m. on Monday in his home in Siniloan, Laguna.
He was 69.
Wife Ophelia Lopez-Castillo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that her husband complained of chest pains late Monday night.
“He was tired. He just came from the printing press to check on his book,” his wife recalled.
Entitled “Celso Ad. Castillo: An Autobiography and His Craft,” the book was set to be released soon, according to the filmmaker’s Facebook account.
“He kept revising the last few chapters,” his wife related. “He wanted it to have a beautiful ending.”
Castillo got his wish, as tributes keep pouring in from colleagues from the entertainment industry.
Batangas Governor and actress Vilma Santos hailed him “as brilliant.”
“I had the privilege of working with him in films like ‘Burlesk Queen’ and ‘Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak,” Santos said.
She recalled that her staff had been texting Castillo two days ago. “He was coordinating with us. We sent him pictures for his book.”
Actress Maria Isabel Lopez, who starred in “Isla,” said Castillo was “a passionate artist. He was able to ‘physicalize’ the movie in his mind.”
Fellow filmmaker Elwood Perez described him as a “true maverick”, while another filmmaker Peque Gallaga praised him as one of the “three great Filipino directors,” along with the late National Artists Gerry de Leon and Ishmael Bernal.
Cannes-winning director Brillante Ma. Mendoza, who worked as production designer under Castillo, called him a “genius. I learned a lot from him.”
He was dubbed the “Messiah of Philippine cinema,” for creating hit movies that broke new ground in the 1970s: from the action flick “Asedillo” (starring Fernando Poe Jr.) to the erotic drama “Ang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa” (Gloria Diaz), from the horror film “Patayin sa Sindak si Barbara” (Susan Roces) to the masterpiece on the dying days of bodabil “Burlesk Queen” (Vilma Santos).
Indie filmmake Ron Bryant, who made a documentary on Castillo, said that the acclaimed director was “a vanguard of the indie spirit.”
British critic and distributor Pete Tombs told the Inquirer that Castillo was “an original and visionary filmmaker.”
Tomb’s Boum/Mondo Macabro released Castillo’s 1984 bold film “Snake Sisters” on DVD in the United States four years ago.
Apart from his autobiography, he was also working on a film on Laguna that was to be included in the masters’ edition of the Sineng Pambansa, scheduled next year by the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP).
“His demise is a great loss to Philippine cinema,” said Santos, chair of the FDCP.
His body lies in his residence in Siniloan, Laguna.