Ricky Davao in three indie fest films
It was just a happy coincidence. Actor-director Ricky Davao ended up with three entries in this year’s Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival— GB Sampedro’s “s6parados,” Michael Tuviera’s “The Janitor” and Milo Sogueco’s “Mariquina.”
It’s only fitting for Davao to be a stellar attraction in the festival’s 10th edition. He has been a face on the Cinemalaya screen from the start.
“I had a cameo in the first Best Picture winner, Doy del Mundo’s ‘Pepot Artista’ in 2005,” he recalled.
A year later, he appeared in Arah Jell Badayos and Margaret Guzman’s “Mudraks” and Florida Bautista’s “Saan Nagtatago si Happiness?”
Then followed Jade Castro’s “Endo” (2007), Dennis Marasigan’s “Tukso” (2007), Ed Lejano’s ” Sinungaling na Buwan” (2007), Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil’s “Boses” (2008), Veronica Velasco’s “Last Supper No. 3” (2009), and Adolfo Alix Jr.’s “Porno” (2013).
In 2010, he served as jury member. He has hosted the fest’s awards show on at least two occasions. He’s a true-blue Cinemalaya loyalist.
Directing assignments on television briefly took him away from the event.
Actually, he would have done four entries, but Bor Ocampo’s “Dayang Asu” dropped out of the race.
“I managed to do the three others because a teleserye I was supposed to direct got stalled and taping for (the GMA 7 afternoon soap) ‘Dading’ hadn’t started,” Davao said.
First to call him was the ‘s6parados’ team. “I wasn’t busy at the time, so I accepted the part.” It is a meaty role—a closet gay who runs away from his familial obligations.
Then came “The Janitor.” And then, “from out of nowhere,” he received the “Mariquina” offer. “I was hesitant at first,” he said, “but they insisted on e-mailing me the script.”
He was bowled over. “It’s a great role. I’m happy I made time to read it.” He plays a shoemaker whose business is as troubled as his home life.
Joel Torre was the original choice for the role but Davao didn’t mind taking over. “Even if I were the 10th candidate, it wouldn’t have mattered to me.”
“S6parados” serves as reunion with his son in “Endo,” Jason Abalos. This time, they are playing would-be lovers. Abalos jested that Davao has “kissable lips.”
Davao noted that he had kissed some of the hunkiest men in the biz—Alan Paule (in Carlos Siguion-Reyna’s “Ang Lalake sa Buhay ni Selya,” 1997), Christopher de Leon (in Laurice Guillen’s “American Adobo,” 2001) and Lauren Novero (Marfil’s “Pusang Gala,” 2005).
These past gay portrayals have proven helpful in his durrent directorial assignment, “Dading.”
He explained: “I am more sensitive, more careful about nuances. I have high respect for my actors. I have complete trust in them. It’s not often that you get to handle an ensemble that’s consistently, and uniformly, talented.”
Davao allows his actors to freely express themselves. He learned this from actor-director Eddie Garcia, who directed him in several projects, including “Saan Nagtatago ang Pag-Ibig,” in 1987.
“When I suggested anything, Direk Eddie listened to me …I am the same way as a director. I see myself as conductor of an orchestra of gifted musicians. Taga-kumpas lang,” he said.
When he’s back as an actor on someone else’s set, he defers to his director, whom he considers captain of the ship.
Before shooting a pivotal dramatic scene in “s6parados,” Davao prepared himself in the car— summoning the saddest of emotions. Seconds before the take, the director told him: “No tears. Hold back—you’re supposed to be repressed.”
“I was just about ready to break loose, but I had to control myself,” he recounted. “I followed GB’s instruction and the scene turned out well … more poignant.”
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