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Mover, game changer

Mother Lily Monteverde has been championing Pinoy movies for half a century now

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Lily Monteverde, head of iconic film production outfit Regal Entertainment, has been recognized by The Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) as Mother of Philippine Cinema.
Mother Lily Monteverde (mb.com.ph)
It couldn’t have been more apt. Many showbiz personalities, both big and small, have acknowledged her time and again as having a hand in launching their careers.

Others, including the likes of Nora Aunor, Robin Padilla, Judy Ann Santos, Aga Muhlach, James Reid, have, in fact, taken to addressing her as Mother Lily.

Before select members of media last Friday at the Cinematheque Center Manila, Lily expressed gratefulness for FDCP’s recognition.

“There is no greater acclaim (than this),” she said. “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.”

She added in effect: “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 (actors whose works will) – stars are young each time we see their images on-screen whose remain. Their movies will live forever as they too forever “I look at all the big bosses of 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.”

She recalled becoming a film producer 55 years ago, simply to satisfy the “die hard (movie) fan” in her.

The 77-year-old maintained she continues to make films these days neither for prestige or power – “been there, done that,” she pointed out – but it’s all about leaving a legacy. She mentioned several landmark films she produced including “Sister Stella L.,” “Relasyon,” “City After Dark,” and “Broken Marriage.”

Of course, she has had her ups and downs, too. Lily admitted she’s been through “hell, all the way to heaven and back.”

“If I have survived all these years it’s because I never backed out of my battles.” she added.

Among other things, Lily also mentioned being misunderstood by some.

“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 the doors to independent filmmakers when it was looked down upon and called ‘pito-pito’ movies. You remember that?”

As to her declaration not so long ago about the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) not a place for indies, she said, “There is a right time and place for certain films.”

“Me, I only want to give people the chance to see them for what they’re worth.”

She related, “I am among those who pray there will come a time that there’ll be no more mainstream, no more indie, just Philippine cinema because that’s what this industry is all about.”

In the end, Lily promised to continue making relevant films both interesting and exciting.

“We are living in exciting times and I am still the same Mother Lily who is very exci¬ted to see what is bound to happen.

“People say change is coming – but in the movies, change is always there. And that is the challenge. To know the change – and to deal with changes that are inevitable.

“And through all this, Regal will still (be) very much around. Alive and kicking, doing its battles and discovering new ways to bring more and better Filipino movies to the audiences.” (With report from Jojo P. Panaligan)

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