John Sayles' AMIGO and A Moment in the Sun out at last.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


We have been hearing about Baguio since we started coming to the Philippines in 1999. It's in the mountains, famously cool, the hill station of the American colonial occupation, and the home of Camp John Hay. It's a long van ride from Manila by moonlight to the pleasant condo of Tammy's friends. I have a miserable cold and go to sleep the moment we arrive. Cool enough for two blankets! Can we really be in the Philippines?
Bliss Restaurant is another of our Lakbay Amigo sponsors. Delicious lunch and a warm welcome from Jim and Shanti, fine representatives of the ex-pat community in Baguio. Here we will show AMIGO with subtitles for the Tagalog.

These screenings at UP Baguio were really good. Good questions from students and teachers. John looms over his young fans.

Back to Bohol

Bohol is never too far from my thoughts. I came across these photos from our Lakbay Amigo stop and had to include them:

Rosaria was our pregnant villager. Here she is with our first Baryo baby, Mary Rose.
When John Arcilla, Ioni, and Tammy joined us in Bohol, where did we take them for lunch? To Manga, to eat at Lic-Lic. Look back in the blog and you'll see us there during the shoot, as frequently as possible.

Our Stone Home

We lived in Stone House, E. Rod, Quezon City for two months during post-production. We are happy to be warmly welcomed back to Stone House, and grateful to owner Gary for joining as a sponsor of Lakbay Amigo.

We are back in the Penthouse, and receiving visitors Cecille Baun and her new grandson-in-law Bobby Savoca-Guay. Here, below, Joel Torre with some of the wonderful Stone House staff.

Lakbay Amigo, next stop Pampanga

Traveling with Tammy, we never miss an opportunity to have a very good meal. Here we are at Claude Tayag's wonderful restaurant Bale Dutung in Angeles City. In red, cooling off with FROZEN towels after guiding us through a fabulous 12-course meal, is Claude's wife MaryAnn. Claude's dream is to make a food movie like "Like Water for Chocolate" or "Scent of Green Papaya". This beautiful house is just the place.
After our "grand bouffe" we spoke to students at Holy Angel's University. The question frequently asked by the students there was "You mean America was not our savior"? It's exciting to see big questions raised by AMIGO in the minds of students and faculty.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Australian Premiere of AMIGO

Catch us tonight at the Adelaide Film Festival Palace 1 at 7pm. John and I will introduce and speak after.
If you miss tonight then aim for 12:45pm Monday February 28 Palace 6. Looking forward to meeting Pinoys Down Under.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

After Cebu, Davao

What about a city that greets you at the airport with a giant durian? For those of you who don't know, it's a famously stinky fruit and you can't be in Davao for 5 minutes without someone asking you if you have tried it. Me? I had a durian candy and my mouth tasted like durian for the next hour.
The best part of Davao was spending time with the Cinerehiyon gang, filmmakers from the regions (try saying "region" like it was Spanish). Exciting to be around young,idealistic filmmakers. They were assembled for three days, a gathering of the tribe by Teddy Co. Really exciting, and fun to go on a boatride with them. Joel with his editor Manny, and John with RJ, our brilliant tour organizer.

John and I had a quiet Valentines Day on nearby Samar.

Beats Workin'

Okay, it wasn't all hard work. Before the Bohol premiere we went out to Cabilao for some R&R with my valentines Dieter and Bee. Here they are, coming and going.

 We snorkeled and rested.

And a handsome German waiter brought us coffee from La Estrella next door.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's Been a Whirlwind

Lakbay Amigo ended last night and today we fly to Australia and the Adelaide Film Festival. I'll do my best to post all the rest of the tour in the next couple of days. First and best, here's a photo of Sophia from our lightning visit to our Talisay Beach family in Bohol.

Cheerful as ever, with curls now, and playing with a best friend. So good to see her and Tessie. We missed you, Vincent. Stay in touch on Amigo the Movie Face Book.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Captains of Asia and North America

Meet Tammy Dinopol of our Philippines distribution partner Origin8 (left, with Cebu organizer Roxie) and Dylan Marchetti of Variance Films, our distribution partner for North America. I feel so lucky to have these two smart young people heading up AMIGO's launch. New path, new blood.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


See this? This is what happens everywhere we go, but especially at the Lakbay Amigo screenings in Cebu. CNU (Cebu Normal School) bought out three screenings to celebrate their "centennial +9". (They are discovering their real history too). That's about 1000 students per showing, loving AMIGO, talking throughout, and responding vocally to the suspense and the romance, and the racism. The next day in Cebu we entertained about the same number of students from San Carlos University-Carolinians as they call themselves. More "Picture?Picture?" with Joel and John Arcilla who is our other pinoy celebrity on the tour. Origin8's strategy is to screen early for students, hoping they'll spread the word both at home and to their families and friends in the US. I think it's working.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February 14 Valentines Day

Valentines filled my kitchen back home. I did my best to finish them so I could leave them behind to be mailed from the US. I hope they all arrive at their destinations, with my love. (Still carrying around a few bound for my Filipino sweethearts:it’s so hard to find a place to post a letter here!)
LOVE from the Philippines where Valentines Day is practically a religious holiday.

LAST MINUTE NOTICE:John Sayles Forbidden History tonight Feb 16  

 Origin8 Media and Fully Booked invite you to...

U-View, Fully Booked
Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
16 February 2011, Wednesday, 6:30pm
About John Sayles
John Sayles likes to be known as a storyteller. He is the director of 17 films, all of which he wrote and most of which he edited. He writes fiction and has published several novels and collections of short stories.  His new novel “A Moment in the Sun”, set around 1900 in Cuba, US, and the Philippines, will be published by McSweeney’s in May 2011.

Sayles supports his directing career as a “writer for hire” in Hollywood. His work is often uncredited but recently he wrote and received credit on SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES. He is one of the prime movers of U.S. independent cinema. Some of his works include Matewan (1987), Passion Fish (1992), The Secret of Roan Inish (1994), and Lone Star (1996). In February 2010, Sayles began shooting in the Philippines his 17th film, Amigo, a fictional account of events during the Philippine-American war.  With an ensemble cast of respected Filipino and American thespians and a 100% Filipino crew, Sayles completed filming in six weeks.  Today, exactly one year later, he is back in the Philippines, together with his producing partner, Maggie Renzi and the Filipino cast, to bring Amigo to the Filipino public.
Please pass and share with your friends!  We would love to have them too. Thanks!


Our Team in the Philippines

Origin8 is our distributor in the Philippines and I couldn’t be happier with the work they are doing to prepare the audience for AMIGO. John and I were also VERY pleased with the dinner they had to welcome us. Picture a round table in a Chinese restaurant, the lazy susan groaning with the weight of the best Filipino food including eggplant torta, one of my favorite pinoy dishes.
Our hostess Mari Lamasan on the left with the sweetest baby boy,and next to her artist Geraldine Javier, Raymond Lee at the rear, hardworking Tammy Dinopol, Emman Dela Cruz , John, me (curly hair again!), Ioni and Issi. You’re bound to meet the full 8 sooner or later.
Jade Castro,  one of the 8, directed the BTS (Behind the Scenes, Filipinos like an acronym) which is the EPK (Electronic Press Kit- I guess we like acronyms in the US too). These friends from the cast and crew were among those who came to be interviewed:
From left, Joel Torre, Bembol Roco, lovely Rio Locsin,yours truly and John, and our  VERY FIRST FEMALE DP, the excellent Lee Briones-Meily.

Wedding Bells from the Baryo

I am privileged to announce the wedding of Bobby Savoca- Guay to our Cheska Barroga. Can you believe it? Here’s a photo of them climbing into Dieter’s multi-cab after the civil service at the Maribojoc City Hall. It was very sweet, with Mayor Leoncio Evasco, Jr. officiating, and many friends in attendance including John and me, Dieter and Bee, Maid of Honor Melany Clarin, and John Arcilla who led us in singing their song,
“I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You”.
Bobby is one of our US Background Soldiers. Go back in the blog to March 22, 2010 and you’ll see Bobby in the middle of the second row, grinning. Cheska is the granddaughter of our wonderful Makeup/Hair/Prosthetics expert, Tita Cecille Baun, and was her assistant.
Bobby and Cheska’s wedding is not the first to come from one of our films, but this is the first time that along with Joel Torre John and I have been ninong and ninang (godparents) since Plummy and Mario were married during “Sunshine State”.
Very sweet.
Video to follow. And a US wedding late Summer, early Fall- at our house!

AMIGO in Bohol

Next stop, Cooper has organized a fantastic Soiree/Fashion Show by the newly formed Baryo/Amigo Performance Group.
The Bohol premier organizers (including Melany Clarin, absent here) have designed a wonderful MADE IN BOHOL poster. We are getting a lot of mileage out of Stills Photographer Mary Cybulski’s beautiful images.

The event features our Baryo Villagers, dressed in their stand-out costumes designed by Gino Gonzales. The audience of students from Tagbilaran couldn’t be less interested in John and me when we talk, but when the show begins they are rapt. They go wild for the little girls (they have grown and their skirts no longer touch the ground). How did Cooper organize such an excellent show: after their many days performing in AMIGO the villagers are disciplined, at ease and even sassy, and anyway Cooper is a miracle worker. I am so proud.

Lunch at Gerry's Grill, Tagbilaran

We are met at the airport by our friends and Lakbay Amigo Bohol organizers Dieter and Cooper who whisk us off to BQ Mall and lunch at Gerry’s Grill. No faces could be more welcoming.
I’ve just read that Gerry’s Grill is expanding to the US. I hope they’ll become sponsors of AMIGO when we open there, in San Francisco and Southern California. (Gerry’s Grill, are you listening?)

Fying In to Bohol

Why do we love Bohol? Just look at what we see from the air right before we land. Recognize the channel between Tagbilaran and Panglao, Baryo/Amigo friends?

Back In Manila

We arrived in Manila on February 4- sacrificing Chinese New Year to the International Dateline-and spent two nights at the lively house of Cecille Baun. (We miss you, Tita Cecille). I put on my Ninang/Producer hat and planned a civil wedding: guess who or read on!
Our excellent Philippine distributor Origin8 has organized a screening for educators at My Cinema, Greenbelt 3, graciously offered to us by Don Jaime Zobel who is a fan of AMIGO, I am happy to say.
Bembol Roco and Joel Torre with John at Figaro’s and then at My Havana with Ronnie Lazaro an unnamed waiter (“Can I take a picture”) and Dong Alegre (producer of the hugely successful Philippine tour of MISS SAIGON.
We are so happy to be seeing our cast, who have become our friends, and grateful for their support of AMIGO.

We Stopped in LA on our Way

John had lots of meetings for the screenplays he is writing, and I hung out with my friends. Here we are in Orange County, seeing it Ham’s Way.  That’s Stephane Gauger,  writer Oliver Eustis, Ham Tran half-hidden, and Andersen Le next to me,  Chapman Film Prof Nam Lee,  JS Himself, and our pal  Cate Park grinning after a delicious meal at Favori and lots of discussion about marketing movies to Asian communities in the US.
Many of the group are fans of Dylan Marchetti (read on).
Cerritos, we’ll see you in August!

Long Ago and Far Away

Here in the Philippines now for more than a week, and it’s hard to remember the Winter we left behind, home in Clinton Corners. I don’t mean to gloat, friends back home, but it’s lovely to be back in the Philippines and to be warm again.

Monday, February 7, 2011

AMIGO Returns to the Philippines!

We are so happy to announce that Amigo is on tour (lakbay) in the Philippines! Amigo's commercial release is currently scheduled for July 6, just after Fil-Am Friendship Day July 4. Amigo Lakbay is our way of fueling word-of-mouth especially among educators and students. You'll see from the schedule below that among our regional partners are many distinguished universities.

  • 09th -------------Bohol
  • 10th-11th -------Cebu
  • 12th-13th -------Davao
  • 15th ------------San Beda College Alabang (1PM) / Cultural Center of the Philippines [CCP] (5PM)
  • 16th ------------ANC Guesting (10AM) /  La Salle screening (T.B.D) / Fully Booked [the fort high-street] (6PM)
  • 17th ------------- Holy Angels [Angeles,Pampanga] (T.B.D)
  • 19th-20th --------- Baguio City
  • 21st ------------- Bacolod
  • 22nd ------------- UP Diliman [University of the Philippines, Film Center] (5:30PM and 8:30PM)

John and I are so happy to be back in the Philippines.  And not just because we are escaping snowstorms back home.

We will be returning to friends and familiar faces (Bohol!) And visiting for the first time places we've only heard of like Davao (Mindanao!), Baguio (everyone says it's beautiful and cold) and of course Bacolod. After so many years of stories of Joel and Mario's college days we'll finally visit the scene of the crime.