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The making of the book on Vicente Salumbides, the Second Father of Philippine Movies

When I was just new in the movie reporting business in the mid-70s, I started to dream and plan to write a book—on any topic but particularly centering on Philippine entertainment industry or media studies. As a matter of fact, the vision was shared by many of my friends and colleagues in the movies.

 

I would envy Emmie G. Velarde who already published a collection of her writings on various personalities in show business in her book “All Star Cast.” She wasn’t the Entertainment Editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer at the time but she was a regular contributor of many broadsheets and magazines at the time including Celebrity Magazine which was published by the late celebrated journalist Rod Reyes. Of course, Emmie deserved to be published in a book because of her probing and cerebral approaches to entertainment writing. She was and still is an excellent English writer.

 

Meanwhile, I was writing in Filipino and the vernacular but I would also want to publish a book in the native language as may main communication. I was a consistent recipient of awards in the annual Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC) Deadline Contest a writing contest organized and ran by the premiere organization of movie reporters. I started to join the contest during the presidency of the still missing popular entertainment writer, talent manager, star builder and producer Boy C. de Guia. As a sidebar, Kuya Boy has not been found till this moment as if he just disappeared into oblivion. No official document of his whereabouts has been released yet so no one could claim he’s already gone.

 

 

Anyway, I was confident I could publish a book but there was no opportunity. There was no guarantee or passionate moral boosting from anyone that I could make one except myself.

 

So I thought I could never publish a book anymore. There were encouragements but they just appeared to be, simply, encouragement. It had to bank on my own decisive and firm act to make things happen.  

 

Until I talked to the late Ponciano PB. Pineda, the former Chairman of the Surian ng Wikang Pambansa. I was at his office for an interview about the celebration of Language Month and in connection with my filming of the documentary drama on the Second Father of Philippine Movies, Vicente Salumbides in 1998. I told him I had a very enriching material about the film pioneer who studied filmmaking in Hollywood after World War I where he was one of the soldiers of the Allied Forces.

 

He suggested why I not submit a manuscript to the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Publishing House. At the time, UST was preparing its five hundred years of existence as an educational institution in the Philippines. One of its projects was to publish books on any topic authored by an alumnus or any affinity with the university.

 

At the time, the Directress of the UST printing office was Dr. Micheline Intia-Manalastas. I mustered courage to go, to see and to talk to her personally about my project.

 

I pitched my subject matter to her and she was accommodating about my proposal. She suggested that I write the whole manuscript of the Vicente Salumbides biography. I told her it was in Filipino. It didn’t matter to her as long as it would pass the standard and criteria of the panel. She said it would be refereed by a set of professionals and academicians assigned to run through all the materials.

 

I immediately started additional research on Salumbides. I also looked for photos corresponding to all the ideas included in the life story of the film pioneer who directed three major silent movies in the 1920s, namely “Miracles of Love,” “Fate Or Consequence” and “The Soul Saver,” all of these are already non-existent since they were casualties from the bombing of Manila during the World War II. I also found out an original screenplay of Salumbides on Dr. Jose Rizal’s novel “Noli Me Tangere” which was deposited at National Library. Aside from my respondents on the doc drama as as grant of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), I did additional interviews with relevant personalities surrounding his personal as well as professional life.

 

Since he was one of the delegates to the 1935 Constitution, I got hold of the official transcription of the floor deliberations of the reps from various regions and their resolutions. One of the provisions that Salumbides fielded in the august hall was his espousing Filipino or Tagalog as National Language which was eventually ratified by the body. Another advocacy of Salumbides was the right to suffrage of Filipino women at the time only men were allowed to vote.

 

All of these and other significant materials I was able to gather for the print edition of the Salumbides biography.

 

After all of these were collated, I started writing the first draft of the book project. Then I revised because there were some new inputs.

 

I didn’t employ an editor after my writing because I was also confident of my Filipino although I would admit that logistics was also part of my endeavor. I couldn’t afford to hire an editor, after all.

 

 I was also the one who thought and chose the title of the book which had many choices.

 

I settled for “Tio Tico Pelikula at Pulitika Vicente Salumbides” which was approved by Dr. Manalastas. She also signaled the green light for the publication of the book in 2001 after some deliberations.

 

I was euphoric, of course.

 

I regularly coordinated with Dr. Manalastas about my project which she liked. She assured me of her preference. She also said that I should teach and if possible, do it while I was movie reporting. “Anong mangyayari n’yan sa’yo sa (What would you get from) movie reporting?” she asked me point blankly. I couldn’t say anything but I was thinking of movie journalism as a commitment and vocation to make a difference.

 

I didn’t articulate them to her, anyway.

 

I told myself she would someday understand my predicament and my stay in show business.

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