MARYO J. DE LOS REYES (1952-2018)
I first became aware of director Maryo J. de los Reyes (Mario Margarito Jorolan de los Reyes) when his outstanding debut film called “High School Circa ’65” was shown on tv many years ago. The movie featured the most popular young stars at that time including Roderick Paulate who was doing his first gay role onscreen. What I remember was that the movie on high school life was very entertaining – so well-written, well-directed and well-acted by the entire cast especially the veterans, Eddie Rodriguez, Liza Lorena, Charo Santos and Azenith Briones. Maryo proved in his debut film that his forte would be doing youth-oriented films. He had that rare skill to motivate and handle young actors as proven in the film’s wonderful end result.
After doing several other films including the follow-up family drama “Gabun” which was also well-received at the box-office, Maryo directed what is probably the definitive youth-oriented film in local cinema, the 1980s blockbuster hit “Bagets” which introduced a then unknown and new teenage actor named Aga Muhlach. The movie, which became a huge hit and made Aga a star overnight, is one of my favorite movies of all time. In fact, I keep an original DVD copy while my brother had the vinyl soundtrack and poster. I just loved this fun movie starting with the opening credit roll of the teens dancing to “Growing Up” until the finale where the song “Farewell” is played. “Just Got Lucky” was unforgettable.
I will never forget the memorable performances from the cast led by Aga, William Martinez, JC Bonnin, Herbert Bautista and Raymond Lauchengco and their leading ladies, Yayo Aguila, Jobelle Salvador, Eula Valdez, Baby Delgado and Chanda Romero. I especially love all the wonderful actresses who played the unforgettable “ermats” in the movie: Rosemarie Gil, Celia Rodriguez, Liza Lorena, Lita Gutierrez and Luz Valdez and the “erpats” Rodolfo “Boy” Garcia, Robert Campos, Eddie Arenas, Romeo Rivera and Herminio “Butch” Bautista. Oh and I remember Nene Perez-Rubio as the Tita Nena of JC Bonnin. “Bagets” clicked so much with everyone because it was a feel-good movie with so many nice songs, dance numbers and funny scenes.
I next became aware of Maryo when I saw “Saan Darating Ang Umaga,” that tearjerker of a movie which made me cry buckets of tears especially during the last scene when the orphan boy played by Jaypee de Guzman had to be returned to the orphanage by Maricel Soriano because of tragic circumstances which befell the family composed of Nida Blanca and Nestor de Villa. I also keep an original DVD copy of this touching movie made more memorable by the theme song composed by music legend George Canseco. From teenage romp like “Bagets” to a heartfelt family drama like “Saan Darating Ang Umaga,” Maryo proved that he was one versatile director who was not confined to a certain genre even if his forte was youth-oriented films.
Having been associated with Nora Aunor after doing several comedy-musicals with her, Maryo directed for the first time in 1987 the QueenStar for all Seasons, Vilma Santos, in “Tagos Ng Dugo,” a suspense thriller written by his partner and collaborator, Jake Tordesillas. Under Maryo’s inspired direction, Vilma, in her role as a psychotic and homicidal nymphomaniac, delivered what many consider her greatest performance, an acting tour-de-force. Her role as Josefina “Pina” Regala, a physically and emotionally abused young woman who resorts to a killing spree during her monthly period was truly offbeat and widely dramatic and afforded her to show every possible emotion and demonstrate her amazing range as an actress of the highest caliber and magnitude.
Maryo’s most famous and most awarded work which brought him international acclaim would hands-down be “Magnifico” which won several Best Picture awards including the Best Feature Film at the Berlin Film Festival in 2004, Best Director for Maryo and Best Actor for Jiro Manio. This heart-breaking movie was about a little boy with a good heart who just wanted to spread love and goodwill to his family and the community where they lived in. This was perhaps Maryo’s most celebrated piece of cinema work. The impeccable supporting cast included Albert Martinez, Lorna Tolentino, Gloria Romero, Mark Gil, Celia Rodriguez and especially Magnifico’s sister with cerebral palsy unforgettably played by Isabella de Leon.
I never personally knew Maryo but I was a fan of his work. Those who knew him said that he had a good heart despite his status as a renowned director. I read somewhere that Maryo was not sick of anything and was not into any form of medication. He was happily dancing at a party and collapsed just like that. Indeed, death comes like a thief in the night. We never know when we will be called. What we will always remember are his films. Thank you Direk Maryo for giving us iconic films like “High School Circa ’65,” “Gabun,” “Bagets,” “Saan Darating Ang Umaga,” “Tagos ng Dugo,” and “Magnifico” which are your gifts to the movie industry. Thank you for sharing your life with us through your films which have touched the lives of movie enthusiasts like myself. Rest in Peace and Paalam Direk Maryo.