Manila, Feb. 1, 2003 (Malaya) - Director Maryo de los Reyes is the current toast of the town. He is getting praises left and right for his movie, "Magnifico," starring nine-year-old Jiro Manio in the title role.

I have seen the movie in one of its special screenings at the Little Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and I'd say it is really one for the books. It is one of those quiet movies that moves moviegoers to tears not out of sorrow but of joy. After viewing the movie, one realizes that in this too-turbulent world we live in, there is still a young creature pure both in heart and mind.

Magnifico (or Icuy, as his parents, played by Lorna Tolentino and Albert Martinez, call him) is one boy who will stop at nothing just to be able to do a good deed for his parents, grandma, siblings, neighbor or friend. And he does not do it because it is expected of him; he does it because he just wants to do it. Basta, everything is spontaneous in him. His love for his parents, his lola and his sister (who is afflicted with cerebral palsy), in particular, is overwhelming. Because his Lola (played with aplomb by Gloria Romero) is dying of cancer and he knows his family cannot afford a decent burial for her, he secretly makes a coffin (only his best friend knows about it) for her out of some scraps of wood which a lumber firm owner gives him.

One scene, which specially moves me, shows Magnifico carrying his sister (Isabella de Leon) on his back as they go to a carnival. It simply delighted him to see his sister happy.

"I am truly happy that I chose Jiro for the role of Magnifico," Direk Maryo remarks, smiling. "Do you know that the script of 'Magnifico' has been with me for the last two years? But until I saw Jiro in 'La Vida Rosa' (where he played Rosanna Roces' bastard son), wala akong makitang batang artista na aakma sa role ni Magnifico."

Direk Maryo was in Bohol planting fruit bearing trees in a piece of land he owns when he received a call from Celia Rodriguez (who has an important role in the movie) advising him to return to Manila pronto. "A producer, she said, wants me to do a movie for her for the 2002 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF)," Maryo relates.

"I had another script in mind when I met with Madam Violet (producer of Violett Films). But just the same, I had her read the script of 'Magnifico' (a first prize winner in the Scriptwriting Contest conducted by the Film Development Board). Nagustuhan niya ito and she suggested that we submit it to the Screening Committee of the MMFF," he reveals.

Neither Direk Maryo nor Madam Violett feels regretful that "Magnifico" did not make it to the Top 10 scripts intended for the MMFF. What happened turned out to be a blessing is disguise. Now everyone who has seen "Magnifico" believes the people behind the project have a box-office winner.

"Ako, malaki ang tiwala ko na kikita ang pelikula," says Madam Violet, who spent a cool P25M to produce "Magnifico." "Ang ganda rin ng feeling na malaman mong ina-a-appreciate ang isang pelikulang ikaw ang nag-produce."

Direk Maryo said he would always feel grateful to Madam Violet for producing "Magnifico." Not every (new) producer has the guts of Madam Violet." That is the reason, says Direk Maryo, he is keeping his fingers crossed that "Magnifico" will really make good at the tills so Madam Violet will do more films like it.

Also starring in the movie are Mark Gil, Amy Austria, Cherrie Pie Picache and Tonton Gutierrez. Girlie Sevilla, who plays the romantic interest of teenage actor Danilo Barrios, is being introduced in the movie.

Girlie, in real life, is the youngest and only daughter of Madam Violet.

"Magnifico" will be shown starting Feb. 12.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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