Last Friday, May 12, 2017, the Film Development Council of the Philippines gave a special recognition to Mother Lily Monteverde for her invaluable contribution to the Philippine Film Industry.
Thank you for the privilege and honor of this invitation.
Indeed, there is no greater acclaim than to be honored as a mother. Yes, in my so many years in this life, I take pride in saying that my greatest achievement is being a mother. I am a mother not only to the beautiful children that I have given life and raised — but I am a mother to so many other people. God gives us the opportunity to be a parent to so many people – and I am so blessed by being given such a chance not only to my immediate family but to the Filipino movie industry.
Even after almost five and a half decades, I still take pride in being called Mother Lily. For who will not be touched to be given such a name considering that I am just a movie fan. Those who know me will insist that Lily Yu Monteverde is just a die-hard fan who loved movies so much that she decided to make her own films. Like the studios of the glory days of Filipino movies in the past, Regal Films was born out of love — a love for movies.
Yes, moviemaking is also a business – a very expensive and high risk business – but if the producer has no love for movies, then it is easy to quit. If there is no personal commitment to moviemaking, then it is better to leave.
But if you take making movies as an act of love – like a parent bearing children – like a father or mother guiding children in the forms of directors, writers, actors, and actresses – then it is no longer just a business. It is building a family.
And I take pride that in almost half a century, Regal Films – now called Regal Entertainment – has remained and will always be a family.
It is not only about the family name Monteverde – because Regal has become a home to so many people whose places in history are far greater than mine can ever be. Remember, Regal is about the works of national artist like Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal. No history of Philippine movies can be complete without mentioning the name of Elwood Perez and Joey Gosiengfiao. And how can you talk about Philippine comedy movies without including Luciano B. Carlos – more popularly known as Tatay Chaning?
Oh, yes, — you remember Regal Films because of our notorious magic kamison. There is almost an urban legend about that infamous kamison worn by Alma Moreno, Rio Locsin, Cherie Gil, Lorna Tolentino, Gina Alajar and so many others as a good luck charm. The magic kamison brought them stardom. Many will also remember the original Regal babies – Maricel Soriano, Snooky Serna, Dina Bonnevie, William and Albert Martinez, Alfie Anido, Richard Gomez, and Gabby Concepcion – and so many others.
Now, when I look back… how can I not beam with pride?
I have played the role of Mother to them all.
I have played mother to directors who made Regal what it is today – and how it will always be remembered in the history of our culture.
I have played mother to some of our most memorable and talented stars – whose movies will live forever – as they too will remain forever young each time we see their images onscreen.
How can I not say that I have been so blessed – not only because of the opportunities given to me in life but because of the chance of being one of the mothers of the movie industry in this country?
Now that Regal is almost fifty years old, I look back. I look back and say that I am proud. I am proud of what the years have given me… and what I have done not only as a movie producer but as a mover, a game changer. I look at all the big bosses of the movie productions now and smile: they too call me Mother … because once upon a time they were working for me. They were trained by me. And like any mother, they all carry a part of me in their beautiful and hopefully fulfilling careers.
Like any mother would tell you, if live long enough as I have been blessed, I can say I have been through it all.
I have been through hell all the way to heaven and back. I jump back on my feet and continue because that is the right thing to do. A good mother is a fighter – and I would like to believe that I have survived through all these years because I never backed out of my battles.
I know times have changed… as they should. But Regal is still here because Mother Lily…nearly eighty years old.. is still fighting her battles and winning them in her own way. No, it is not about the prestige – definitely not about the power. I can proudly say again, “been there, done that.” And after being there and doing that, you will realize that the power and the prestige is NOTHING. It is about what you leave behind…and how your works can stand the test of history.
It is about Bernal’s “Salawahan” or “Relasyon” or “Broken Marriage” or “City After Dark.” It is about Mike de Leon’s “Sister Stella L.” or all the works of Brocka, Joel Lamangan, Chito Roño, Joey Reyes, Mel Chionglo, Maryo J. Delos Reyes and other important movie directors who make up the library of the Regal Films. It is about being there ready for change – and making changes.
Like any mother, you watch your children change. You see the world change. And Regal knows that.
I have often been misunderstood because of statements I made – which I want to make clear. This is especially for those whose memories are too short. I love Filipino movies – as proven by the more than one thousand films that I have produced. And I will be the first to fight for the Filipino filmmakers.
Many misunderstood me by presuming that I only fight for mainstream or commercial movies. Let me refresh your memories: Mother Lily is one of the first to open doors to independent filmmakers when it was looked down upon and called pito-pito movies.
So, you remember that? You remember Regal-produced films which were branded as second class citizens in the 1990s. It is this pito-pito movies that opened the doors for Lav Diaz, Jeffrey Jeturian and even a master filmmaker like Mario O’Hara to make the films that they truly wanted to share to the public.
Ask any director – both young and veteran – as to who is the producer who has highest respect for the artistic integrity of the filmmaker? Go ahead – ask any director shooting films now and even then – as to how much Regal has given freedom for the filmmaker to fulfill his vision?
Regardless of what others think, we look up the filmmaker, whether commercial or independent – because for me, I only believe in Philippine Cinema and not labels. [But] I also believe in knowing the right time and place to show certain kind of films not because I look down upon them but because I want to give people the chance to see them for what they are worth.
I believe that the true success of any film is not only in its box-office harvest or its critical success. A film can only be successful if it finds its audience – or the audience discovers it. You cannot force an audience to watch your films by telling them this is good and their choices are bad. That is the perfect way to lose your audience.
I know, because movies are also my children. As a mother and not only a producer, I should understand what they are all about and meant for.
And I pray that there will come a time when there are no more mainstream or indie movies. We will just call them Filipino Cinema because that is what they are all about.
So what future does Philippine cinema promise? We shall see.
But we are living in exciting times and I am still the same Mother Lily who is very excited to see what is bound to happen.
People say change is coming – but in movies, change is always there. And that is the challenge. To know the change and to know how to deal with changes that is inevitable.
And through all this, Regal is still very much around — alive and kicking, doing its battles and discovering new ways to bring more and better Filipino movies to the audiences.
To end this talk, let me just say – It is good to stand here and share with you the wisdom of so many years.
But remember, as sit there listening to me, Mother Lily Monteverde is still the mother so many. And I AM still very much here.