Ricky Lee not offended by book fair security pushing him away
National Artist Ricky Lee said he did not take offense after he was pushed away by a security guard during a recent book fair, adding he was glad the incident initiated discussion on the proper treatment toward artists in the country.
In a statement to INQUIRER.net, Lee addressed the incident at the Manila International Book Fair in Pasay last Thursday, Sept. 14, where he was pushed away while talking and shaking hands with beauty queen Pia Wurtzbach.
“It was only when I saw the video that I realized that much as I didn’t want to blame the guard, he could have performed his duties well while still being courteous and respectful to others, regardless of their age, title, class and gender,” the acclaimed screenwriter said, referring to the video from the event that made rounds on social media.
“Aside from the fact that he saw Pia acknowledge me and shook hands with me. Dapat nirespeto niya rin si Pia (He should have also respected Pia),” he continued.
Lee as well as fellow National Artists Rio Alma and Gemino Abad were the guests of honor at the book fair, and they led the event’s ribbon-cutting along with Wurtzbach.
“I had lunch with Pia and her publisher at nagpalitan kami ng libro (and we exchanged boks). So it’s not as if we just met during the incident,” Lee disclosed. “[But] I really did not feel offended. Wala ‘yun sa akin. Never naman akong humingi ng special treatment.” (It was nothing to me. I have never asked for special treatment.)
Lee then pointed out how the incident attests to how Filipino artists, especially writers, are not given due acknowledgment unlike celebrities and beauty queens.
“Kaya lang, on hindsight, buti na ring nangyari dahil nagkaroon ng discourse on social media sa kung ano ba dapat ang tingin at trato natin hindi lang sa akin kundi sa ating mga artists sa ating lipunan,” he stressed.
(But in hindsight, it is a good thing it happened because it initiated discourse on social media on the proper treatment and acknowledgment not only to me but the artists in our society.)
“Kasi compared sa beauty queens o sports celebrities o artista, sobrang mas mababa naman talaga ang tingin natin sa ating mga artists, lalo na sa mga writer na Filipino,” he stated. “So I hope that this becomes not just about me.”
(Because compared to beauty queens, sports celebrities or actors, artists—especially Filipino writers—are given less acknowledgment. So I hope that this becomes not just about me.)
Aside from his best-selling novels including “Para kay B” and “Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata,” Lee has written almost 200 screenplays including “Brutal” (1980) and “Karnal” (1983), both directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya; “Himala” (1982) by Ishmael Bernal; “Macho Dancer” (1988) by Lino Brocka; and “José Rizal” (1998), again, by Diaz-Abaya. He was named a National Artist in 2022. /ra