The trouble with ‘Asiong’
What’s up with this gangster movie?
Director Amable “Tikoy” Aguiluz VI wants his name removed from the credits of “Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story,” an entry in this month’s Metro Manila Film Festival. And female lead star Carla Abellana has been banned from promoting it.
Aguiluz made the request to strike his name—from billboards, posters and other promotional materials, including those posted in social media—in a letter drafted by his lawyer, Angel Enrico Mira Jr., and addressed to “Asiong” producer Scenema Concepts International. Aguiluz explained that the final version of “Manila Kingpin” can no longer be described as his film.
“Additional scenes were shot without the knowledge and presence of our client,” the letter said. Aguiluz, Mira pointed out, wasn’t involved in the film’s “reedit, re-shoot and music mixing.”
Aguiluz is also demanding that he be allowed to make a director’s cut of the movie, which he can submit to international festivals. Mira said the movie company “disregarded the rights and prerogatives of our client to make creative decisions based on the original and agreed version of the project.”
If their demands are not met, Mira said, Aguiluz will file “criminal and civil charges.”
Abellana was prohibited from promoting the movie, in which she stars with Laguna Gov. ER Ejercito, because this apparently violates her “exclusive contract” with Regal Entertainment.
This was according to Regal matriarch Lily Monteverde, who sent a statement to the Inquirer on Saturday replying to comments made by Ejercito on Friday about Abellana and the movie.
The actress is also in the cast of the Regal drama, “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” directed by Jun Lana. Both films are entries to this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival, which opens on Dec. 25.
“Carla has an exclusive contract with Regal. It’s not true that her contract gives her an option to do movies outside of Regal,” Monteverde pointed out. “Regal and Arnold [Vegafria, Abellana’s manager] agreed that Carla will not help promote ‘Asiong’ only because she also has a film fest entry with Regal, and that this could be considered a conflict of interest.”
Monteverde claimed that Vegafria failed to inform her about the actress’ commitment to do “Asiong,” adding that Regal was the last to know about it.
“We were told about it only after Carla had finished shooting her scenes. When I learned about it, I told Arnold, ‘Nandiyan na ’yan, there’s nothing we can do about it. Ayusin mo ito.’”
Monteverde said she has kept quiet about the issue “to protect Carla, a Regal baby.” But now that Ejercito has commented on it, she felt she had to “explain and clear things up.”
During a press conference on Friday, Ejercito said Regal will file a suit against Abellana and Vegafria if the actress tries to promote “Asiong,” attend press cons, or even attempt to ride its float during the parade on Dec. 24. Ejercito said he was disappointed.
Monteverde clarified that her move was not directed at Ejercito. “It’s just so sad that in situations such as this, Arnold doesn’t lift a finger,” she stressed. Monteverde added that she never considered filing a case against Abellana because, “I consider her family.”
Monteverde cited the case of another Regal artist, Marian Rivera, who was allowed to join the cast of another MMFF entry, “Ang Panday 2,” a joint project of Imus Productions and
“Marian, like Carla, is an exclusive Regal contract star. I allowed her to work with Sen. Bong Revilla because he was courteous enough to ask my permission before they began shooting the film,” Monteverde said.
The film producer added: “I pray that things go right from hereon. I just want to be fair to myself and to the (industry) people. I also demand to be treated with respect.”
Funny thing is, with Abellana being interviewed left and right about the issue, she is actually promoting “Asiong,” anyway.