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From one veteran to another: Raquel Villavicencio recalls working with the great Ishmael Bernal

Raquel shares what it was like working with National Artist and acclaimed filmmaker Ishmael Bernal

Patricia Matalog
Patricia Matalog

9/5/2022 in News
From one veteran to another: Raquel Villavicencio recalls working with the great Ishmael Bernal

Anyone who has worked with the late legendary director and National Artist Ishmael Bernal would consider themselves lucky. That includes writer-turned-actress Raquel Villavicencio, who had the chance to work with him in one of the greatest Filipino movies of all time, the 1982 tragic drama "Himala". 

In the livestream event for the digitally restored version of "Kakabakaba Ka Ba?", Raquel recalled her working experience with the filmmaker whom she had a "love-hate relationship" with, when she served as the production designer for the iconic Nora Aunor-starrer. 

"I have a love-hate relationship with Ishmael Bernal. He was so much fun when he was fun, and he wasn't fun when he wasn't fun," Raquel began. 

According to her, Ishmael's works speak for what kind of a director he is on set.  

"Si Ishmael, napakadramatic na tao talaga," she said of the filmmaker. "As you can see from his films, he's the type of director who would demonstrate to the actor what he wants you to do on the set. Kung kinakailangan mong tumambling, he will show you how it's done," she added. 

Not only is he very hands-on with the actors, he is also the type to make sure his staff and crew remain high-spirited on set. 

"Kapag nakikita ni Ishmael na mababa na 'yung energy ng staff, he will start to sing broadway songs already. Alam niya lahat ng broadway songs sa mga Hollywood musicals. Parang kahit anong sabihin mo, alam niya lahat. So he would start to sing and lahat kami kumakanta. That's how he would wake us up," Raquel shared. "Or, he will start a conversation about guys. About love life, about sex, kwento-kwento. And before you know it, buhay na ang lahat ng staff." 

However, one would not want to get close with Ishmael once he's enraged, according to Raquel. 

"'Pag mainit na ang ulo ni Ishma, 'pag meron siyang hindi gusto sa set, nambabato. He would grab the chair or the nearest thing that's there," she revealed. 

As much as her experiences with the acclaimed filmmaker are memorable to her, Raquel, who thrived in the industry from being a production designer to a writer to, now, an actress, shared that t will always be her own bodies of work that she would take pride in. 

And if there's any of her work that she would want to be attached to her name in her decades-long career, it would be none other than the 1983 romance film "Init Sa Magdamag", which starred Lorna Tolentino and Dindo Fernando. 

In the Laurice Guillen film, Raquel had her very first solo screenplay, after years of collaborating with different writers for a movie's script. 

"I would always say 'Init sa Magdamag'. Not only because it was my first solo, and therefore when it was your first, talagang wow, ilalagay mo talaga lahat ng exciting d'yan," she gushed. 

The writer-actress also believes her first solo work was where she poured her heart out, one that she didn't know existed in the first place. 

"I would say now that all of the scripts that a writer writes has some basis in reality from his own life. Otherwise it's not in his soul, eh. Kailangan siguro kahit isang master seed na galing sa looban niya na gusto niyang palawakin, na gusto niyang i-expand, na gusto niyang i-share. So because that was my first experience in writing, as to how I pour all of that out, I didn't realize it was inside me and here's a channel where I can really put it out there and share it with people, it holds a special place in my heart for me," she enthused. 

As an actress, Raquel last appeared in the 2019 iWantTFC and Big Reveal series "Uncoupling" and the 2020 iWantTFC Original "Loving Emily". 

You can also see more of the restored version of Raquel Villavicencio's works on KTX.ph! 

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