Wednesday, July 1, 2015

*384. A Story Interrupted: AGNES DE GUZMAN, Writer

IN HER OWN WRITE. Agnes De Guzman of Mabalacat, as a Commerce graduate of UST. She pursued a creative a career and became a successful TV ans film screen and story writer, actress, champion of Kapampangan films.

 There was never a quiet moment when you were with Agnes De Guzman—my sister Susan’s best friend since high school. It was easy to be taken by this vivacious girl, who always had a ready story to tell—the latest town gossip, school anecdotes, her opinionated movie reviews and political commentaries. We lived in the same barangay, shared rides as students in Angeles, and our mothers were acquaintances, so Agnes was always a welcome presence in our house.

 I didn’t know Agnes had ambitions of becoming a writer, until I got a call from her one day. It started as a usual “kumustahan”call—she was already working at PLDT in Manila, fresh from earning a College degree from the U.S.T. I, in the meanwhile, had been working for years in Makati and had become an advertising creative director writing advertising copy and dabbling in comedy writing on the side. She wanted me to know that she was planning a career shift; she had been taking writing classes under Nestor Torre and Ricky Lo, and she felt she was ready to take a plunge into the world of show business as a writer.

I remember telling her to follow her heart, while cautioning her on how fickle the industry can be for creative people---unlike a corporate job that guarantees a steady flow of income. Agnes, however, told me she had saved enough from her PLDT years, enough to allow her to make this “experimental detour” in her career. So, pushing 40, Agnes gave up her telecom job to pursue her other dream of becoming a writer for films.

 And did she chase that dream with a passion! Next time I heard from her, she told me to watch out for the film thriller “Ika-13 Kapitulo” starring Christopher De Leon and Zsa-Zsa Padilla, where she was credited for the screenplay. The comedy “Mana-Mana, Tiba-Tiba” (2000) was next, and this time, it was she who wrote the story. Agnes was definitely on her way,gaining writing experience and at the same time making important connections with showbiz stalwarts as Marichu Vera-Perez, director Adolf Alix Jr., Gina Tagasa, among others.

 Channel 2 took her in and her storytelling skills were honed by the many TV shows, movies and screenplays she wrote: “Baliktaran: Si Ace at Si Daisy”, “Mga Kwento Ni Lola Basyang”, “Angels”(2007). She also earned credits as an actress, making appearances in films like “”Imoral”, “Saan Nagtatago Ang Happiness”(2006) and “Nars” (2007). In 2008, she joined Cinemalaya film competition and her original story with a Kapampangan theme, √Ątin Cu Pung Parul”, made it to the semi-finals.

The next year, she wrote the movie, “A Journey Home”. In 2010, her output included the movie “Presa” (for which she won a 34th Gawad Urian nomination) and the TV series “Inday Wanda” that ran through 2011. Her most successful assignment as head writer was for the intriguing, “Nasaan Ka, Elisa?”, which was slated to have 90 episodes to run from 2011 and 2010.

She had also started work on another series, “Hiyas”, also on Channel 2 when fate intervened: she was stricken with an illness that turned out to be cancer. The feisty Agnes carried on with her work even with her condition; she shunned traditional medicine in favor of alternative healing.

In August 2011, she decided to tick off an item on her bucket list—to go on a Parisian adventure. Her friends, ignorant of her condition—including me, followed her journey through her regular postings on facebook---today she’s at the Eiffel Tower, the next she’s at the Louvre. Her photos showed her zest and animated spirit—smiling, enjoying, relishing every minute of her amazing journey, highlighted by a visit to the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.

 Less than three months after her return to the Philippines, Agnes took leave of this mortal world. She lies in a private cemetery in her beloved Mabalacat, with simple slab of stone to mark her grave. The gravestone bears both her name and her title that she was so proud to wear: Agnes P. De Guzman, Writer. (January 6, 1962- November 6, 2011).

 Cinekabalen, Pampanga’s leading film festival organization, honored her along with film critic Alexis Tioseco (+) in 2015, for her legacy of writing that found full expression on TV and the Silver Screen, assuring Agnes De Guzman, Kapampangan storyteller, of immortality.

 (4 June 2015)


Anonymous said...

She was lovely and God loving gal. I never seen someone so devoted and peaceful with Christ like she does. I took Writing course with N U Torre a year after her and I almost made it in show buisness. Agnes took me with Adolf Alix to see Marichu Maseda sick in the hospital. I was an aspiring whatever at that time? Agnes introduced me, I passed her a basket of flowers and fruits which Agnes paid for and I came prepared with 5 synopsis handed to Ms Maseda and she instructed me to prepare a script. I wasn't a writer but businessman I think? One time Agnes became my date on some FAMAS Award ceremony. She made me wait for an hour while she prepared herself powdering her nose upstairs in her room or something. I was fumming mad! then Lo and Behold the sight of her coming down the stairs wearing a green gown made my anger disapear! I said " Sulit naman pala ang pag antay ko sa iyo. Ang ganda mo! Then there was a time I kept on checking up on her there was a powerful storm and the flood was up to her waist! She was ann angel. She was my mentor, she was my spiritual adviser. We had fun and SHE WAS MY DATE! Olie

alex r. castro said...

Thanks for the fond memories you have of Agnes. She touched us in more ways than one.