78 A DAY WITH MANET DAYRIT
THE PRESIDENT AND CEO OF CENTRAL DIGITAL LAB TALKS TO MANICA C. TIGLAO ABOUT FILM RESTORATION, WHAT COULD BE THE NEXT GOLDEN AGE OF PHILIPPINE CINEMA, AND BRAD PITT.
The president and CEO of Central Digital Lab talks to Manica C. tiglao about film restoration, unforgettable moments at the Cannes Film Festival, and the state of Philippine cinema.
WhAT TIME DID YOU WAkE Up TODAY? 5:30 a.m.
WhAT’S ThE FIRST ThINg YOU USUALLY DO WhEN YOU WAkE Up? I drink a glass of water, wake my son up, and help him get ready for school.
WhAT ARE YOU Up TO ThIS MORNINg?
I’m about to drop off my son at school, get coffee at Toby’s Estate, do yoga at Manila Polo Club with my girlfriends, then I’m off to work.
WhAT TIME DO YOU hEAD OUT TO WORk?
10:30 a.m. WhAT WAS FOR BREAkFAST? A cappuccino, yogurt, and a croissant.
FAShION STApLES? Dresses that can go from day to night.
NEWEST pIECE OF CLOThINg YOU’vE BOUghT? A dress from Dorothy Perkins.
FAvORITE ShOES? My wedges from Sapato Manila. I can run around in them all day in comfort.
JEWELRY OR WATChES? I’m loving my new iWatch! It tracks my workouts, allows me to check my messages in the middle of meetings without others noticing, and it looks cool.
ANY SIgNATURE ACCESSORIES?
Jewelmer South Sea pearl stud earrings. I wear them every day.
WhAT FRAgRANCE ARE YOU WEARINg?
I’ve been using Royale Ambrée cologne since I was a teenager.
FAvORITE DESIgNERS? For formal dresses, I love Vic Barba and Rajo Laurel.
FAvORITE CITY IN ThE WORLD? London. I went to film school there a long time ago. I don’t get to go back very often but when I do, it always feels like my second home. There is just so much to do and see. I watch plays and films, visit museums and art galleries, picnic in the beautiful parks, visit heritage sites,
and have afternoon tea while catching up with old friends.
STYLE ICON? Audrey Hepburn. I love her classic look that is simple yet feminine and elegant.
ANY WORkOUTS OR FITNESS ROUTINES YOU’RE COMMITTED TO? I try to do yoga thrice a week and jog or walk twice a week.
ANY SpECIFIC DIET YOU FOLLOW? I’m just trying to eat healthier by cutting down on red meat and sugar. I have a major sweet tooth!
OThER CONSUMINg pASSIONS? I love to watch films and read books. I still love the whole moviegoing experience. Watching films while eating popcorn is our favorite family pastime on weekends. I also have a book club with my friends, although we haven’t been meeting as regularly as we used to. It’s fun to read the same books, meet about it over dinner, and come up with our ideal cast in case the book gets made into a movie.
hOW OFTEN DO YOU ENTERTAIN? WhAT SORT OF ENTERTAININg? FORMAL? CASUAL? Entertaining at our house usually consists of happy hour followed by a casual dinner with the family.
YOUR TIpS TO A MEMORABLE CELEBRATION? Keep things simple and spend more time connecting with your guests than fussing in the kitchen.
WhAT’S YOUR FAvORITE ThINg TO SERvE YOUR gUESTS? A well-made charcuterie platter and a good selection of cheese is always a winning combination.
FAvORITE DRINkS OR OThER MEAL ACCOMpANIMENTS? A good red wine. Great desserts are a must!
WhAT ARE YOU READINg RIghT NOW?
Love and Gravity, by Samantha Sotto, and a lot of scripts! I’m currently part of the selection committee of QCinema. I have to read 34 full-length feature film scripts!
WhAT MUSIC IS ON YOUR pLAYLIST NOW? Bruno Mars. LUNCh TODAY: BUSINESS OR pLEASURE?
Lunch at the office, which is a mix of both business and pleasure.
LUNCh COMpANIONS? I usually have lunch with my guys at the office. We casually discuss our ongoing projects but mostly we just laugh and talk about the latest film we’ve seen or the latest antics of our kids or pets at home. I’m glad that we treat each other more like family in the office. WhERE? WhAT’S ON ThE MENU? A nice
hearty salad for me.
FILL IN ThE BLANk: IF YOU WERE NOT A FILM EDITOR, YOU WOULD BE… I’ve always wanted to own and run a bed and breakfast. Maybe when I retire, I’ll finally do it.
WhAT DO YOU FIND pARTICULARLY MEANINgFUL IN YOUR LINE OF WORk? Filmmaking has always been very fulfilling for me. Being able to entertain an audience, make them think, feel, or even change their point of view on something is very gratifying. But my latest passion and advocacy is film restoration. A hundred years of filmmaking in the Philippines has produced thousands of films. Unfortunately, due to the dismal state of film handling and archiving in the country, many of these films have deteriorated or even disintegrated. There is an imminent need for the surviving titles to be restored before they literally disappear. It is my advocacy right now to save as much of our film heritage as we can. For the past five years, my company, Central Digital Lab, in partnership with ABS-CBN, has been digitally restoring the film collection of the ABS-CBN Film Archives. So far, we have restored more than 120 films. These include Filipino classic films like Himala, Oro, Plata,
Mata, Karnal, and other important titles by our great film masters. Being able to bring back these titles for a whole new generation to see and learn from has really brought purpose and meaning in what my team is doing.
WERE ThERE ExpERIENCES, MEMORIES FROM YOUR ChILDhOOD AND FORMATIvE YEARS ThAT INFLUENCED YOUR ChOICE OF CAREER? WhAT COMpELLED YOU TO
ENTER ThE FILM INDUSTRY? When I was 8 years old, I saw Star
Wars for the first time. I was in awe! How did they do that? Then I saw the making of the movie on TV. Ever since then, I knew that I wanted to be a filmmaker. That was the first year I stayed up to watch the Academy Awards. I remember going to bed formulating my own acceptance speech in case I ever won an award.
WhAT hAS BEEN YOUR pROUDEST MOMENT ThUS FAR? Seeing the guys I’ve mentored through the years winning their own awards.
YOU’vE BEEN hONORED WITh NUMEROUS AWARDS FOR SEvERAL FILMS. WhAT MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER ARE YOU MOST
pROUD OF? I think I had good timing. We were pioneers in digital post-production in the Philippines when I started editing. So I was fortunate that I got to edit for a lot of great directors so early in my career. I edited for the likes of Peque Gallaga, Marilou Diaz-Abaya, and Carlitos Siguion-Reyna. I learned so much from all of them. Learning on the job from the masters of Philippine Cinema has been a privilege.
gREATEST ChALLENgE OF YOUR CAREER?
Breaking into the then very much male-dominated Film Editors Guild of the Philippines. When I started editing in the 1990s, the local film industry was dominated by male editors. I had to acquiesce to the condition of not being properly credited for editing work that I did on 10 films before being accepted into the Guild.
WhAT qUALITY OR TRAIT IS MOST ESSENTIAL IN YOUR LINE OF WORk? Creativity and attention to detail.
WhAT’S YOUR FAvORITE FILM? Cinema
Paradiso is still my all-time favorite. All the elements of the film are perfect! The script, acting, the romantic location, the beautiful cinematography, the lovely music of Ennio Morricone, and, of course, the editing. All these wonderful elements were masterfully directed by Giuseppe Tornatore into a very poignant film that warms my heart every time I see it.
NAME YOUR TOp ThREE FILIpINO MOvIES.
Himala, directed by Ishmael Bernal, Oro, Plata, Mata, directed by Peque Gallaga, and
Kisapmata, directed by Mike
de Leon. BEST FILM YOU SAW IN ThE LAST YEAR?
There were a lot of good films. But off the top of my head, Hacksaw Ridge was one of the best.
ANY FILMMAkERS AND ACTORS
ThAT ExCITE YOU? The local independent film scene is very exciting right now. The young filmmakers are coming out with unique points of view and the international scene is taking notice. I have always been a staunch supporter of the filmmakers and the different local independent film festivals in various capacities. I sponsor some of the festivals, or I’m part of the selection committees or jury, and sometimes I even co-produce some of these films. It’s exciting to be a part of what could be the next golden age of Philippine Cinema.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAMILY. I come from a very big family and we are all very close. It’s great because all generations hangout together. Regular happy hour is bonding time for all the grandparents, titas, titos, and cousins.
WhAT ACTIvITIES DO YOU DO WITh YOUR
FAMILY IN ORDER TO BOND? We have a lot of family lunches and dinners. We watch movies together and we love to spend long weekends at the beach.
FAvORITE RESTAURANT? The Last Chukker of my cousin, Vanna Severino. It’s like our family’s second home.
FAvORITE ChEAp ThRILL? Does a really good massage count?
CONvERSELY, WhAT IS YOUR FAvORITE
SpLURgE? Definitely traveling. Whether traveling locally or abroad, I love discovering new places with great food, art, culture, and scenery. It’s the way to recharge and get inspired.
SIgNATURE DRINk/COCkTAIL? Red wine. I was also recently introduced to calamansi rum. It’s the perfect cocktail to have while lounging on the beach.
WhAT WOULD YOUR LAST MEAL ON EARTh
BE? My Tito Conrad Calalang’s cochinillo, my mom’s paella, my ninang Marilou Senn’s mushroom cannelloni from La Tasca, and my sister Maricel’s orange chocolate cake.
WhAT ELSE ARE YOU Up TO ThIS AFTERNOON? Happy hour with my girlfriends.
WhAT DO YOU DO AS SOON AS YOU gET hOME? Have dinner with my son.
WhAT WAS ThE pRETTIEST ThINg YOU SAW TODAY? The iconic last shot of Hihintayin Kita Sa Langit.
gUILTY pLEASURES? Chocolate, a good massage, and binge watching a good series on Netflix. Over the weekend, I watched the whole first season of Anne with an E with my sister. SECRET FANTASIES? Well, I have been working on my Oscar acceptance speech since I was eight years old!
BEST DECISION OF YOUR LIFE? Going to film school and following my passion.
BIggEST MISTAkE OF YOUR LIFE? I have no regrets. I think I’ve learned from all my experiences, both good and bad.
WERE YOU gIvEN ANY gREAT ADvICE
TODAY? Yes. A friend’s Facebook post today said, “Do whatever you can, with what you have, where you are.”
hAvE YOU DISpENSED ANY ADvICE OF
YOUR OWN? I told my son that from now on his magic word should be “yet.” Every time he feels frustrated when he finds something difficult, instead of just saying “I can’t do it,” he should say, “I can’t do it yet.” Perseverance is everything.
LOvE OF YOUR LIFE? My son,
WhERE ARE YOU hAvINg DINNER TONIghT? WITh WhOM? WhAT’S FOR DINNER? At home, with Joaquin. We’re having sinigang, our favorite comfort food.
MOST MEMORABLE MEAL. Last Holy Week, we went island hopping with the whole family in Coron. My most memorable meal was totally cooked by our bangkeros on the bangka while we were snorkeling. We ate our lunch on a deserted island. Our freshly grilled seafood, ensaladang talong, and rice were served on banana leaves and we ate with our hands. It was the best meal ever with sand on our toes, the cool sea breeze, the picturesque limestone cliffs in the background, and the wonderful company.
WhAT DO YOU DO AND WhERE DO YOU gO TO UNWIND? Cocktails with my girlfriends at the Last Chukker or just sitting around discussing a good book or film with friends.
WhAT ARE YOU MOST gRATEFUL FOR TODAY? That my family is healthy and happy.
WhAT TIME ARE YOU gOINg TO SLEEp? I may fall asleep when I put my son to bed at 8, but if not, then maybe at around 10:30.
WhAT DO YOU hOpE TO DREAM ABOUT?
Eight years ago, I was fortunate enough to be in the exclusive party after the premiere of
Inglourious Basterds in Cannes. I was standing face to face with my ultimate film crush, Brad Pitt! He was right in front of me looking gorgeous as ever while we were having cocktails. He was animatedly telling a story to one of the other actors. I’m not sure exactly what he was saying because I was so awestruck that I was just standing there completely dumbfounded. I just stared at him, probably with my mouth open. How embarrassing. So tonight, I would like to dream that I’m finally receiving my Oscar and Brad Pitt comes up to me and congratulates me. I impress him so much with my fabulous ideas that he decides to produce my next film in the Philippines. Of course, we fall in love and grow old together while we run my quaint bed and breakfast.