Tribute to Atty. Espiridion D. Laxa

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Revenue and Prestige “…Former movie producer, lawyer Espiridion Laxa explains that, during the festival, since no foreign movies are shown, Philippine movies invariably rake it in. Laxa is the MMFF executive committee’s chair on legal affairs and rules and regulations. Production costs are huge, especially for ambitious films shot on locations abroad, or those employing expensive digital effects. “For example,” Laxa recounts, “for the air raid scene in Regal Films’ ‘Yama$hita,’ they had to digitally create the airplanes. The scene lasted six minutes on screen, but the effect alone cost P14 million.” But the investment paid off, he said, since “Yama$hita” was named Best Picture of the 2001 MMFF. The trophy came with a hefty cash prize. Besides, just being included in the festival lineup already earns much-needed subsidy for the producer. “The festival committee gives the subsidy so that better-quality films will be made,” said Laxa. “President Gloria Arroyo gave P50 million in 2002. Out of that, P4 million went to the producers of each of the film entries. Last year, the film producers received P1 million each from what was left of the 2002 subsidy.” This year, producers received a subsidy, too, but Laxa did not disclose the amount. Finally, producers are after the prestige. Being included in the MMFF’s lineup puts the movies, and the producers, way ahead of the pack. In short, Laxa says, “It’s image-building. Producers want the honor of being included in the filmfest. The perception is that (if your movie is in the MMFF) you’re good…” – Philippine Daily Inquirer, Dec 15, 2004 (READ MORE)

Laxa on FPJ’s death on films: “…When an owner of several theaters in Mindanao learned that Fernando Poe Jr. was making a movie for Atty. Espiridion Laxa, the owner immediately called the respected producer to ask what will happen to FPJ at the end of the movie, will he live or die? When Atty. Laxa answered that FPJ will live when the movie ends, the theater owner heaved a big sigh of relief. He was doubly glad to learn that the King of local movies is playing a Muslim cop in said movie, “Muslim Magnum 357.” Why is it important for the theater owner to know if FPJ is going to live or die in his latest movie? Well, you see, several years back when an FPJ film in which he died at the end was shown in one of the theaters of the said owner, the patrons, which were mostly Muslims, almost created a riot, threw things at the moviehouses’ screen, destroyed the seats and stopped other moviegoers from entering the theater…In fact, it’s not only his Muslim fans who don’t want to see FPJ dead in his movies, but almost all his followers all over the country. But why? Here’s how Atty. Laxa explained this sort of FPJ cult: “In real and reel life, FPJ epitomizes the champion of the small people, the common tao, especially the underdog, who are victims of injustice and abuses. It is as if they see in him, on-and-off screen, their own dreams and aspirations. To the youth, he is a living idol. For almost three decades, FPJ has become a folk hero and heroes don’t die.” – Tony S. Mortel (READ MORE)

Pillar of Local Movies – “…If Jose Nepomuceno was acknowledged the Father of Philippine Movies, Atty. Espiridion Laxa became the Pillar of Local Movies since the mid-50s. At the time LVN Pictures, Sampaguita Pictures and Premiere Productions were about to cease from producing films, Atty. Laxa founded Tagalog Ilang Ilang outfit. He re-established Fernando Poe Jr., Joseph Estrada, Jun Aristorenas, Jess Lapid Sr., Tony Ferrer in starrers Mga Tigreng Tagabukid, Suicide Commandos, Kardong Kidlat, Dugong Tigre and Leon at Tigre. Atty. Laxa launched his brother Tony Ferrer as the local James Bond via the blockbusters Sabotage and Crisis which were critically acclaimed also. The reteaming of top love team then Amalia Fuentes and Romeo Vasquez came to the fore through Atty. Laxa’s project Ako’y Iyung-Iyo which was the top moneymaker then. His firm launched sexy stars to stardom, the foremost were Divina Valencia and Stella Suarez, highlighted by their team up in Labanang Babae, a box office hit. That ushered in the popular song about the duo. In the tune of Hard Day’s Night, with the lyrics Divina Valencia, Stella Suarez nagbu-burlesk. That even kids loved to belt that time, much to the chagrin of elders. However, Atty. Laxa became more respected as adviser, legal counsel . trouble shooter of problems existing within showbiz people. It ignited when Amalia was sued by Sampaguita Pictures’ Jose Perez for breach of contract. With his therapeutic words Atty. Laxa was able to iron the kinks between them out of court. From then on, practically everyone would love to seek his assistance and advice whether personal or about local movies. Not surprisingly, he was chosen the president of the Philippine Motion Pictures Association for decades. Later, then president of the country Joseph Estrada appointed Atty. Laxa the chairman of the Movie Workers Welfare Foundation (Mowelfund), showbiz’s counterpart for SSS. The more he turned out to be a pillar of the movie industry. One of those who had categorically benefited from Atty. Laxa’s fold was Vilma Santos. She rose from a sweetie type of star into a highly respected and controversial figure off-screen. Her private life had been guided with care by no less than Atty. Laxa. The reason why Vilma considered him a second father to her. Exactly the same treatment showered to him by most of the stars and movie people, led by FPJ, Erap, Amalia and others. When given a chance to work as his firm’s publicist starting with the FPJ starrer Mabuting Kaibigan, Masamang Kaaway in the ‘90s, this writer was boggled with his big-heartedness and extreme compassion for his workers. Sadly, I was already in Canada during his demise and in his wake some years back. Nonetheless, the legacy Atty. Laxa left behind in showbiz will be instilled not only in my mind but to everyone connected in showbiz or those who had capacious time spent with him…” – Paul F. dela Cruz (READ MORE).

Produced atleast 100 films – “…Laxa’s Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions Inc. and EDL Productions produced some 100 films that were headlined by the action stars of Philippine cinema like Fernando Poe Jr., ex-President Joseph Estrada. Jess Lapid Sr. and Jun Aristorenas. He encouraged his lead stars to put up their own film companies. His films also included drama films that starred Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos. He was responsible for casting together the superstars of Philippine cinema during the 60s to the 90s. Some of the TIIP films included FPJ starrers like Hari sa Barilan and Fandong Asintado, Sabotage with Tony Ferrer as Agent X-44, Markang Rehas with Joseph Estrada, the Nora Aunor-Vilma Santos film Ikaw ay Akin and several Darna films with Vilma Santos. At the time of his death, he was also the chairman of the Movie Workers’ Welfare Foundation (MOWELFUND) and the Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council, Inc. He was also a director of the board of the Film Development Council of the Philippines. Atty. Laxa hailed from Macabebe, Pampanga and took his law studies at the Far Eastern University and Philippine Law School. He passed the bar examinations in 1955. He was co-founder with the late Mayor Antonio Villegas of the Manila Film Festival in 1966 where he served as co-chairman for the periods 1966-69, 1972-74 and 1992-99. He was the chairman of the Rules and Regulations of Legal Affairs Committee of the Metro Manila Film Festival since 1998. Laxa was given the Lifetime Achievement Award of the FAP in 1993, the same year he was awarded the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan for Film by the City of Manila. In 2004, he was given a special recognition award by the Metro Manila Film Festival. For the years 1987 to 1990, Atty. Laxa was the president of the ASEAN Movie Producers’ Association…” (Film Academy of the Philippines, Sep 16, 2009)

Si Falcon at si Darna “…First to speak was Tony Ferrer, the younger brother of Atty. Laxa who used to play the role of Agent X-44 Tony Falcon, our local James Bond. He thanked the people who supported them in their time of bereavement. Tony reminisced the days when his elder brother reprimanded him. “Pumuti ang buhok ko hindi dahil sa trabaho. Ikaw ang nagpaputi ng buhok ko, Tony, kaya itigil mo na ang mga kalokohan mo.” Tony couldn’t control his tears when he said, “Hindi lang ako nawalan ng kapatid. Nawalan din ako ng ama.” Atty. Laxa had taken care of his siblings in the absence of their parents…Marichu Maceda talked at length on the accomplishments of Atty. Laxa in the movie industry. “Pag may taong kakausapin, hinahatak ko siya (Atty. Laxa). Siya kasi ang pambato ko sa casting.” Manay Ichu and Atty. Laxa were the prime movers in the establishment of the Film Academy of the Philippines. Manay Ichu also mentioned the time when Vilma Santos was having a problem with the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue). “Inabot ng one and a half years ang pag-audit kay Vilma. Si Attorney ang taga-busisi, taga-double check ng mga figures.” MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando also took the podium. Before handing an envelope as his donation of sympathy to the family of the late FAP chairman, BF took a one last look at the coffin. Atty. Laxa was a member of the Metro Manila Film Festival’s executive committee of which BF heads. BF made a reference to the issue of the MMFF execom giving him a birthday gift (monetary) every year. And since the funds came from the MMFF coffers, it is now the subject of a senate committee inquiry chaired by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada. The corruption issue is being aimed at Atty. Laxa because, it seemed that, he instigated the gift-giving.  Ric Camaligan, the SVP of SM Entertainment, rectified that notion. “Hindi po si Atty. Laxa ang pasimuno ng regalo. Kami po ang talagang may idea noon,” Camaligan stressed in taking the blame away from Atty. Laxa…First to be seen that night was Vilma Santos who went straight to the coffin. She had many films with TIIP (Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions), the production outfit of Atty. Laxa. Incidentally Vilma’s latest movie, In My Life, was said to have earned 20 million on the first day of showing…” – Alex J. Socorro, FAP, Sep 23, 2009 (READ MORE)

Espiridion Laxa (December 18, 1929 – September 15, 2009) was a Filipino lawyer, film producer, Metro Manila Film Festival executive committee member. He was also Chairman of the Film Academy of the Philippines. He also founded the now defunct Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions,[1] which produced Ibigay mo sa akin ang bukas (1986) Boy Tornado (1987) Alyas Pogi (Birador ng Nueva Ecija) (1990) and Mabuting Kaibigan, Masamang Kaaway (1991). A lawyer by profession, Laxa served as senior partner at Laxa, Mapile & Associates. He was best known as a film producer and official of various movie organizations, such as the Film Academy of the Philippines, Philippine Motion Picture Producer Association and the Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council Inc (Wikepedia).


  • Member (Integrated Bar of the Philippines)
  • Senior Partner (Laxa, Mapile & Associates Law Office)
  • President (Soliman Lawyers)
  • Legal Adviser (Kapisanan ng mga Sinehan sa Pilipinas)
  • Legal Cousel (Several Corporations)
  • President (Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Production Inc. / EDL Prod)
  • Chairman (Film Academy of the Philippines)
  • Chairman (Philippine Motion Picture Producer Association)
  • Chairman (Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council Inc)
  • Director (Premiere Entertainment Productions Inc)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award (Film Academy of the Philippines)
  • Dr. Ciriaco Santiago Memorial Award (FAMAS)
  • Manila’s 1993 Awardee (Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan)
  • Awardee for Flavio Macaso Memorial Award (FAMAS)
  • Outstanding Manilan
  • Manila’s Diwa ng Lahi Awardee
  • FAMAS President’s Awardee

Source: FAP