Remembering Danny Zialcita

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Danny’s Film Style – “…Sabi ni Danny, marami siyang naririnig na takot ang mga artista sa kanya dahil sa kakaiba raw niyang working habits. “Iba akong magpatakbo ng set. For those stars I haven’t handled yet, working with me will be like breaking old habits. It doesn’t necessarily mean na ours is the better habit. Iba lang.” Karaniwan, maraming hindi nakagamay sa style ni Danny na walang script. Kay Danny, the script should be just a guide for the sequence ng scenes. Sasabihin lang ni Danny ang situwasyon sa artista, bahala na ang artista sa interpretation at sa dialogue “I allow them to contribute to the interpretation of the story base on their everyday experience. Paglabas natural ang arte nila. Mahirap kung sunod lang nang sunod sa sinasabi ng isang papel,” paliwanag ni Danny. “Ang importante lang,” dagdag ni Danny, “ay alam ng direktor kung saan pupunta ang istorya.” Isa pang style ni Danny na hindi nakukuha ng maraming artista ay ang mabilis na pacing ng kanyang mga pelikula. “Pag sa akin, no long pauses in between dialogue. Brief and concise ang takbo ng ma linya.” Naniniwala si Danny na ang editing ang isa sa mga dahilan ng ikinagaganda ng kanyang mga pelikula. “I’m more of an editor than a director; more of a scriptwriter than a director,” sabi niya. Ang editing ay isang aspeto ng paggawa ng pelikula na talagang pinagaralan ni Danny. Ipinagmamalaki ni Danny na hindi siya aksayado sa film. “I already edit my film while still on the shooting. Nandoon ang concentration ko as director. I hardly expose film.” As a director, naniniwala si Danny na dapat, may malaki siyang papel sa pagpili ng final title ng pelikula. Binibigyan din niya ng importansiya ang music sa pelikual. “I love music, I give room for it in my films…” – Vivienne Rafael, Movie Flash Magazine, December 23, 1982 (READ MORE)

Man starts and God finishes – “…Perhaps, it was because we were his most recent contact from media if one could call five years recent. At that time, he agreed to an interview, asked that we see him at his home and spoke of a project for Gabby Concepcion, which we filed for The Philippine Star. At that time, we wrote: “Gabby’s father Rolly was on the phone talking with Danny and he hands us the phone. Apparently, Rolly has a story for Gabby he wants Danny to direct. Zialcita’s mind was not only as sharp as it was in the past; his excitement at reappearing once again on the scene was infectious. He told us of how God had been guiding his every move in the past. Man starts and God finishes, he stated. He felt this during the peak of his career when he was churning out movie after movie… Nine hits in a row? That couldn’t have been possible without Divine intervention,” he interjects. Upon his death Sunday, we were told his body was cremated and no wake was scheduled. It seemed to us that Danny had directed his final movie. And we remember “Man starts and God finishes…” – Bibsy M. Carballo, The Philippine Star, March 15, 2013 (READ MORE)

Beautiful Women and Cool Wife – “…Zialcita is a son of a banker whose wife took care of the kids and the home. If he had a knack for narrative, it must have come from his paternal grandmother who wrote short stories for Liwayway Magazine. Danny studied at the Ateneo de Manila up to high school before he was sent by his dad to the Sophia University in Japan to take up business management—and to cut the budding romance between his son and the actress Charito Solis. While he was indeed enrolled in a business course in the beginning, he was soon moonlighting in the film editing classes, and ended up just focusing on the latter. He wasn’t able to finish his studies and at 19, got married to Leonor Vergara, a favorite leading lady and then girlfriend of Fernando Poe Jr. Despite Danny’s reputation for being a playboy, the two have been married for 47 years now, and have three grown children. “Ask the girls,” says Mark Gil, with a knowing laugh when I ask him to comment on the director’s ladies’ man image. And Zialcita always had the most beautiful women on the set: Lyka Ugarte, Dang Cecilio, Pinky de Leon, Rio Locsin, Hilda Koronel, and Gloria, of course. “My favorite is still upstairs,” he tells me when asked who among the actresses was his favorite. “I believe in duty, responsibility and continuity…I have a way of hiding what is important.” And then he adds, “Mapagbigay ako.” “He loved women,” says Gloria. “He is very cariñoso, very touchy, laging nakasampay sa’yo. Even with the men.” But Danny never made a move on her. “How can he? We were always shooting in his house; his wife was upstairs.” The Zialcita movie atmosphere, they say, is always relaxed. Mostly because he is the producer of most of his films he can take his time, and he was usually shooting at home, in the old Zialcita mansion on Lee Street in Mandaluyong. “Basta may painting at may salamin, it was shot in Danny’s house,” Mark Gil says. “Kaya ‘yung mga walls namin puro butas,” says daughter Beth. He would just change the paintings and the look of the house for every film. They would also shoot in the house across owned by a relative. “Even while he was doing his bomba movies, he would do it here,” adds Beth. “I would come home from school and see people in the house na walang damit.” While he did collect many paintings, ivories and sculptures not only for his films but also as a personal hobby, Danny also collected still photographs of scantily clad women whose blown-up incarnations Beth would see posted in his private den. His wife Leonor, says Beth, never seemed to mind. “She is a very cool wife…” – Jerome Gomez for Metro Him, ABS-CBN News, 03/12/2013 (READ MORE)

Danny’s Vi and Guy – “…Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos told the Inquirer: “I learned a lot from him. He popularized crispy, witty dialogue that sounded very natural. He was intelligent and clannish. He liked working with the same set of actors. I felt privileged to be among his regulars.” Santos starred in Zialcita’s biggest 1980s hits: “Langis at Tubig,” “Karma,” “Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan” and “T-Bird at Ako.” The last one also top-billed Nora Aunor. Told about the news, Aunor said that, apart from “T-Bird at Ako,” she guested in a Zialcita movie that launched singer Kuh Ledesma in 1982, “Tinimbang ang Langit.” “We also have an unfinished movie ‘Sa Dulo ng Panahon’ (produced by Regal Films in 1988),” said Aunor. “Mahusay siyang direktor. Mabilis mag-isip at magaganda ang mga dialogue namin lagi. He was a great director, quick-witted. He always gave us beautiful lines to deliver…” – Bayani San Diego Jr., Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 14, 2013 (READ MORE)

Dear Sharon – “…None at all. My first single, Tawag ng Pagibig (by Rey Valera), didnít click. It was my second, Mr. Deejay (also by Valera), released six months later, which did. When I was 14, I rode on the float of the movie Langis at Tubig during the parade at the Cebu Film Festival. I sang the theme song of that movie (directed by Danny Zialcita). Ate Vi (Vilma Santos), one of the stars, was pregnant with Lucky so I kind of pinchhit for her. Direk Danny was very impressed by the public reaction. After the parade, he talked to my Mom about the movie Dear Heart. Hindi daw niya itutuloy if he couldnít get me to star in it…Direk Danny wanted my character in the movie to be close to my real self para daw hindi ako mahirapan. So in the movie, I had bodyguards and my father was strict and crazy over me; I even had a yaya who called me Miss Universe. Very real life, di ba? I had crushes and puppy loves even before I met Gabby. Before I joined showbiz, ang crush ko noon ay si Dondon Nakar. But before Dondon, there was Bruce Lee, and now Jet Li. I did have a crush on Albert (Martinez) but not on Gabby. I thought Gabby was mayabang; so among the Regal Babies, mas gusto ko sina Alfie Anido at Jimi Melendez (both dead). In fact, when they asked me who I wanted as my leading man in Dear Heart, I said, “Anybody but Gabby Concepcion.í I found out na mabait naman pala siya when we started shooting…” – Ricky Lo, The Philippine Star, August 11, 2002 (READ MORE)

Comatose – “…Atenean, Danny Zialcita, passed away Monday, March 11 after more than a year of being comatose. He was 73. Director, producer and writer, Zialcita was legendary. He was revered for his glossy movies that often showed middle-class characters delivering witty quips and kilometric dialogues that he often wrote and re-wrote on the set itself. “Lady Killer” was made in 1965 and he went on to make 52 movies, most of which he himself wrote. Among his most famous are “Bakit Manipis ang Ulap,” “Nang Masugatan ang Gabi (1984), “Nagalit ang Buwan sa Haba ng Gabi” (1983), “Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan?” (1982), “Langis at Tubig” “Hindi sa Iyo ang Mundo, Baby Porcuna,” “Ikaw at ang Gabi” (1979). He was credited for plucking the teen recording artist Sharon Cuneta and making her into a star via the teen romance “Dear Heart” (1981), which paired her with Gabby Concepcion. Zialcita and Cuneta would later reunite in 1983 for “To Love Again.” He was also the director of “T-Bird at Ako,” which has the two most awarded Filipina actresses Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos. He was married to former actress of Premiere Productions Leonor Vergara with whom he had a daughter…” – Malaya, March 17 2013 (READ MORE)

Danny Zialcita and Vilma Santos

  • Langis at Tubig (1980) – Zialcita’s first collaboration with Vi. She played the other wife of Dindo Fernando who was had a shotgun wedding to a provincial naivette, played by Amy Austria who he impregnated.
  • Karma (1981) – After the hit, Langis at Tubig, zialcita did Karma with Vi. The film was one of the top grosser in the December festival. It also earned Vi another best actress. Manny A. Valera, writer for Jingle Extra Hot Magazine wrote in December 28, 1981, Vi was so proud of this Zialcita’s directed film she explained: “…Masaya ako ngayon. Sa darating na Filmfest kasi, maganda ang panlaban kong pelikula. Kung nagustuhan ng mga manonood ang Langit at Tubig last year, mas magugustuhan nila ang Karma. Hindi kiyeme-kiyeme ang sinasabi ko. Nakita ko na kasi ang mga rushes, “I consider Danny as one of the best among our movie directors. Pulido siyang magtrabaho. Pari iyong mga bold scenes namin, talagang artistically done. All praises ako sa kanya. Nakasama ko na rin siya before and because of that, may inter-action kaming dalawa. Vibes na vibes kami. Sure ako, hindi ako mapapahiya sa filmfest entry ko. “Karma will be my Christmas gift to all my fans who, until now, have not stopped loving me. Ang pagtingin ko sa kanila ay extra special kaya naman, extra-special ang regalo ko…”
  • T-Bird at Ako (1982) – Aside from several guest appearances in all star cast films like Dugo at Pag-ibig sa Kapirason Lupa, Happy Days Are Here Again and other forgetable films, this is the fourth films that Vi and Guy did together. Zialcita masterfully directed the two and despite the unequal weight in terms of roles, Vi gamely faced Nora in several memorable confrontation scenes that include witty/crisp dialouges, slapping and a kissing scene (well, almost lips to lips, a kiss in a cheek). Art immitating life? We all know that Guy had a rumour gay wedding in the U.S. that she herself briefly discussed in an article years back. And she also candidly admitted several times, she’s also a Vilmanian. Zialcita was way ahead of his time, creating one of few Filipino films about a career minded and succesful lawyer who happens to be a lesbian. Seldom we see such characters in Filipino local films and he has done this several times in films like Mahinhin vs Mahinhn. Despite the dissappointing ending where lesbian Nora agreed to be with her patient suitor, played by Tommy Abuel, instead of Vi, the film has answeared what both Vi and Guy’s fans has been expecting since Bernal’s Ikaw Ay Akin, the typical battle confrontations. It may come probably too late as the film was not as successfull commercially.
  • Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan? (1982) – Zialcita and Vi’s last film together. Hilda was originally cast in Langis at Tubig in 1980 but he took out Hilda and cast Amy Austria instead. He then make-up for this decision by giving Hilda one of the lead in this drama that reminds local film buff of the Lolita-Eddie-Marlene troika in 60s. In an interview by Jerome Gomez, for Metro in 2008, “…From 1979 to 1986, Zialcita was on a roll, doing one film after another, pulling off nine hits in a row beginning with Gaano Kadalas in 1981 up to his sex comedies that include May Lamok Sa Loob ng Kulambo. He could demand anything from a producer and his wish would be granted. When Viva Films asked him to do Gaano Kadalas, he told Vic and Mina del Rosario that he will only do it if they get George Canseco to write the theme song (most of his popular films had songs by Canseco), and that Hilda Koronel would be one of the leads. Viva granted him both, even if it had to pay more for Hilda than for Vilma. “May utang ako kay Hilda eh, I took her out of Langis at Tubig…” Gaano Kadalas broke box office records set by another Vilma starrer, Sinasamba Kita released few months eartlier, it grossed 7.3 Million in its few days run in Metro Manila in 1982, equivalent to 17.4 millions to today’s money.

Danny Zialcita (November 24, 1939 – March 10, 2013) is a fun-loving gifted and colorful filmmaker who left his mark as one of the best in the stimulating era of the ’60s and ’70s. Then without any warning he left the industry. Stories of drug addiction, withdrawal from the world, and worse, loss of sanity dogged his absence until even his colleagues lost touch with him and didn’t know what to believe. Zialcita is a master of improvisation on the set, he also had the knack for casting the right actors, choosing the right material, and pleasing his producers. One of his favorite actors was Dindo Fernando whom he termed “the complete actor” and cast him in such movies as Langis at Tubig, Karma, Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan, Mahinhin at Mahinhin, its sequel Malakas, si Maganda at si Mahinhin and Ikaw at ang Gabi which gave Dindo his first Urian Best Actor trophy. Other favorites were Vilma Santos cast in Karma, T-Bird at Ako, Langis at Tubig; Pinky de Leon; Laurice Guillen; Ronaldo Valdes; and Beth Bautista who won Best Actress award in Hindi sa Iyo ang Mundo Baby Porcuna. – Bibsy M. Carballo (READ MORE)

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