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Tormentor/mentor with a cause

/ 12:30 AM February 03, 2016
JOEL Lamangan                   ELOISA LOPEZ

JOEL Lamangan ELOISA LOPEZ

The irony is not lost on TV-film director Joel Lamangan. He was the first to point out: “All the stars in my new soap opera are problematic.”

By that, Lamangan meant they are some of the most controversial celebs in Tinseltown: Claudine Barretto, Cesar Montano and Diether Ocampo headline his new TV5 series, “Bakit Manipis ang Ulap,” which debuts on Feb. 15.

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He told the Inquirer that Barretto, Montano and Ocampo were doing fine on the set. “They’re all OK. They come to the set on time. They’re well-prepared,” he related. “They’ve been very professional—so far. Maybe they’re afraid of me!”

That is no empty boast. Lamangan is renowned in the biz for being a stern disciplinarian on the set.

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In light of the recent controversy involving the alleged abusive behavior of TV-film director Cathy Garcia-Molina against history teacher Alvin Campomanes, can we expect Lamangan to mellow down?

Although Lamangan asserted that outsiders might not understand the “culture” in show biz (where cursing is commonplace), he explained that that was no excuse for the maltreatment of subordinates.

He himself experienced a director’s wrath when he was a newbie, on the set of Ishmael Bernal’s 1982 movie, “Himala.”

“Bernal threw a table at me,” he recounted. “He called me a nincompoop. I had to look it up in a dictionary.”

He was so insulted that he threatened to walk out. “He later explained to me that the outburst wasn’t meant for me. In any case, he said he’d have me picked up by the Philippine Constabulary if I left the movie.” (Lamangan, an activist, had just been released from prison that time.)

The incident was mentioned in a book on the film, Lamangan said.

He is an equal opportunity mentor/tormentor, Lamangan quipped. “I scold everyone who makes mistakes—whether he’s a big star or a bit player.”

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Lamangan, who spearheads the Directors’ Guild of the Philippines and Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Pelikulang Pilipino, remarked that he feels strongly about defending workers’ rights.

“On my set, what I eat is the same food that is served to the crew and bit players,” he said. “I also have a cut-off: midnight. I can only extend up to 1 a.m. I always tell the stars: Report for work on time if you want to go home early.”

Ensuring humane working conditions in the entertainment industry can be a mighty challenge because of the lack of unity among its practitioners.

“There is no employer-employee relationship between the producer/network and movie/TV workers,” he clarified. “We’re in the same category as street vendors, contractual workers under the law. We should start forming unions… guilds have no real power to make demands.”

The plight of the common man is tackled in his latest indie film, “Sekyu,” which topbills Allen Dizon, Sunshine Dizon and Melai Cantiveros.

“Sekyu” is the closing film of the 3rd Singkuwento International Film Festival on Feb. 27. The fest runs from Feb. 19 to 27 at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts in Manila, before moving to UP Diliman, from March 2 to 4 and March 7 to 8.

He has another indie film in the works, “Siphayo,” featuring Luis Alandy, Alex Medina, Elora Espano, Alan Paule and Susan Africa. It’s about a farmer who refuses to sell his land to mall developers.

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TAGS: Bakit Manipis ang Ulap, Drama, Entertainment, Joel Lamangan, program, show, Television, TV
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