Fliptop battles are the heart and core of “Respeto,” a beat-drop anthem to the art of rap competitions in the country. It was Thomasian director Alberto “Treb” Monteras II’s official entry to this year’s Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival.

Monteras fused music, time and literature in “Respeto,” which tells the story of a destitute teenager from Pandacan, Manila.

Filipino hip hop artist Raymond Abracosa—better known as Abra—plays Hendrix, a mainstay in Bersos, the regular fliptop battle in their area.

As a rapper, music is his soul and rhythm is his prowess. But Hendrix often ends up losing to his opponent.

He becomes determined to redeem himself when he comes across the diary of Martial Law victim Fortunato “Doc” Reyes (Dido de la Paz) when he breaks into the latter’s house.

Hendrix finds inspiration in Reyes’s words and uses them as his own. The old man, unfortunately, learns of the misdeed and discredits Hendrix straight in his face.

Fate, however, unites the two as they learn about each other’s stories. Reyes’s past is mirrored in Hendrix’s present. Their lives become intertwined and the story ends in the most unexpected way.

Monteras discusses respect in all of its aspects. Aside from respect for one’s work, respect for women and life are also tackled.

Monteras goes deep into the ills of society by referencing problems that continue to hound the country in Hendrix’s verses.

A laudable work, “Respeto” also boasts of stellar actors and a meticulously written script that caters to millennials.

A Varsitarian art director from 2000 to 2001, Monteras obtained his bachelor’s degree in advertising arts from the old College of Architecture and Fine Arts.

His prime contribution to the Varsitarian was running its iconic comic strip, Tomas U. Santos, the brainchild of the paper’s art section in the mid-1980s. He introduced his own version of Tom-Tom, the paper’s talking tiger mascot.

The director was guest artist in two Teatro Tomasino productions during his stay in the University namely, “Aning, Anino” and “Pitik Bulag sa Buwan ng Pebrero.”

Monteras has directed several top-rating TV shows, commercials, live concerts and music videos.

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