Thursday, November 29, 2012

An Open Letter About my Father, Celso Ad Castillo by Christopher Ad Castillo

A touching letter by the son of Celso Ad Castillo, one of the Philippine's greatest filmmakers known as the "Messiah of Philippine movies" who died recently. Taken from Facebook:




"AN OPEN LETTER ABOUT MY FATHER, CELSO AD. CASTILLO

As soon as I received the news that my father had passed, I sat there not knowing what to do. I didn't cry. I couldn't. So I did the only thing my father loved doing the most - I went to the movies. I watched Lincoln. The little kid in him had always admired Spielberg. They had met before and he was going to direct a movie for him at one point.

And inside the dark theater, I cried.

As the images flickered on the screen, as Lincoln fought for the future of humanity, I saw my father fighting all his life for his vision, his morals, his values. He was going to make the films he wanted to make. No matter the personal cost. He was The Kid, The Messiah, the Philippine's first truly independent and renegade filmmaker. The man who was larger than life. Fitting.

I am the first born son of Celso Ad Castillo. Growing up on film sets, I was destined to follow in his footsteps. Never to eclipse him but to be the best that I can be in using the gifts he gave me. My path had always been set. As my mother always said, I am my father's son.

We had spoken recently about some exciting things that the future was going to bring. My project with producer Alemberg Ang was short listed in the upcoming Cinemalaya 2013 and after I finished my interview with the selection committee, it dawned on me the excitement that I might have a chance to work with my father once again. But this time with with me in the director's chair and he as an actor. Our last talk was about the long awaited and much anticipated "Ang Lalaking Nangarap Na Maging Nora Aunor" which was going to be his FDC film. It would be his swan song, a tribute to his love for Philippine Cinema. He would be Salvatore in Cinema Paradiso. I was going to write it for him.

As I sit here and pen this missive, not just for me but for everyone that admired and was influenced by him, I always think back to a night in San Francisco over two decades ago that truly defined who he was. When for the first time, he explained to me the reason why our family broke apart. We were living in Las Vegas at that time when he came to join us for good but decided to leave after a couple of months back to the Philippines. He told me that he made the hardest decision of his life. He had to choose between his art and his family and he chose his art. And from that decision came some of the greatest films cinema has ever seen. I have never begrudged my father for what he did. I have never questioned his love for us. I have always understood him and felt sadness that he was put in that situation. No one should ever have to make those kinds of decisions. But all of us in his life have always competed with the characters in his head and stories in his mind.

Film was his family. Film was his life. And we are all the better for it.

We will celebrate the man and his films. We will honor him with words and tributes. But let us not forget the greatest gift my father gave us. The strength and courage to be an original, to be rebellious without fear, to dig deeper into ourselves and embrace the madness within us, to question art and mold it to our own perception, to test people's comfort zones, to force the audience to watch what is uncomfortable in their own lives.

So to those filmmakers influenced by him, continue the fight to make the films you truly want to make and extend the path that he paved and pass along the gift that he gave to you to the next generation of filmmakers. It would be the only thing he would ask any of you. I wish all of you would have met hm. Then you would see the true man behind the legend. A man of wit, wisdom, and a huge sense of humor.

To some people, he was the greatest filmmaker of his generation. To me, he was simply a wonderful father. I will truly miss him until I see him again.

- Christopher Ad. Castillo

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