THOMASIAN director Alberto “Treb” Monteras II’s “Respeto” opened in cinemas today, Sept. 20, with the movie initially meant as a tribute to Pinoy hip-hop culture bearing a serious message: the need to stop the cycle of violence.
Monteras, an advertising arts alumnus of UST, shared his thoughts on the film during its UST premiere last Sept. 17 at the Thomas Aquinas Research Center auditorium.
“`Yung kinatatakutan natin na ay `yung cycle of violence ay paulit-ulit at nagpapatuloy. To include that in the film is a reminder to us na dapat `wag na natin tularan `yung mga nangyari sa nakaraan,” Monteras said in an open forum after the premiere.
Monteras said his journey to film began when he learned to animate poetry during his stint as the Varsitarian’s art director from 2000 to 2001.
“It all started with the Varsitarian, with me animating poetry through art. So I thought of doing just the same through film,” Monteras said.
While he can relate to every character in the movie, Monteras said it was Hendrix, the young rapper in search of fame, who best mirrored a “piece of himself.”
“He was searching for his voice as a rapper in the same way that I’m searching mine as a filmmaker,” Monteras said.
Despite the recognitions and awards the film has received, “Respeto” continues to draw criticisms online, particularly from “trolls,” for its politically charged theme.
Producer Monster Jimenez said people should see it first before throwing in their opinions.
“I don’t want to play their game. What we would like is to show our passion for this movie,” Jimenez said.
“Respeto” bagged seven awards, including Best Film, during the 13th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival in August.
The film also took home the Audience Choice Award, the Netpac Jury Price Award, Best Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Sound and the Best Supporting Actor Award for Dido de la Paz.
Joselito Zulueta, the Varsitarian’s publications adviser who was part of the jury in the Cinemalaya Film Festival, said “Respeto” addresses the need for a film that tackles Martial Law and relates to young people.
“We needed a modern movie that’s musical—hip-hop or rap—one that would address the young audiences who seem to have forgotten about Martial Law,” he said.
“Respeto” tells of a young rapper’s quest to gain respect —with Martial Law and the bloody “war on drugs” as a backdrop.
Set in Manila, the film revolves around Hendrix, played by Filipino hip-hop artist “Abra” (Raymond Abracosa).
Hendrix wants to become a famous rapper and finds inspiration in a Martial Law victim’s diary. In the diary, Hendrix finds the right verses and incorporates its text into different beats, creating new rhythmic hip-hop verses for rap battles.
The film’s UST premiere concluded with a kick-off dinner for the Varsitarian’s 90th anniversary celebration next year.