Thrilled to make viewers laugh
WHEN an aspiring writer joins a film company, his or her goal is to write good stories and scripts, and eventually wind up as a good movie director of dramas, comedies or musicals.
This was the goal of Ben Feleo, whose writing dates back to Japanese times. He was the son of a farmer who fought for land reform in Nueva Ecija as president of the Pambansang Kilusan ng Magbubukid.
In the course of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, the organization became the Hukbalahap.
Ben was only 14 years old when his father enjoined him to collaborate in writing a play to generate volunteers and support for the movement.
Using the point of view of a mother, who personified Inang Pilipinas, the drama was so effective that before the actress finished declaiming her final poem, volunteers were already rushing to join.
But Ben decided to keep away from his father’s beliefs when the elder Juan Feleo, who was a ward of Sampaguita president Judge Jose O. Vera, sent him to Manila to work in the film company after Ben graduated from college.
The year 1958 was very hectic for me because of the Sampaguita Silver Screen magazine that we were publishing for the first time, where I was associate editor.
Going over ads of soon-to-be-released movies, I saw the faces of Romeo Vasquez and Susan Roces as the newest love team to be introduced in the film, “Lover Boy.” Scanning the screen credits, I came across the name of Ben Feleo as screenplay writer, with Carlos Vander Tolosa directing.
When I finally had the chance to be introduced to Ben, he shared that he really enjoyed writing comedy scripts.
“I am thrilled when my scripts make people laugh—that is fulfillment for me,” he said with a big smile.
Among the scripts he wrote for Sampaguita, Ben is proudest of the omnibus film, “Mother Dearest.” When Doc Perez said that the movie should have seven episodes, Ben thought it would have a different author for every storyline, and a separate scriptwriter and director for each title.
“But no, Doc said that I would write all seven scripts because he liked the concept that I had thought up, with each story related to a different devotee at Baclaran Church. —What an unexpected honor!”
In 1981, Ben Feleo finally directed his first movie with corresponding story credits also going to him under RVQ Productions. The film’s title was “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.”
Of all the movies he had done, it reportedly became Dolphy’s favorite movie, with Nida Blanca and Rolly Quizon also in the cast.