The Heart of the Matter

Words by: Rosario “Chats” Santiago

Joey Reyes, a multi-awarded screenwriter and director

From the days of LVN, Sampaguita, and other film studios of that time, romance has been the go-to genre of choice for both moviegoers and producers. Love teams like those of Rogelio Dela Rosa and Carmen Rosales, Luis Gonzales and Gloria Romero, Nestor De Villa and Nida Blanca had such onscreen chemistry that fans swooned over their make-believe courtships and couplings, and made their films regular ‘tabo sa takilya.’ As we were to learn during our one-on-one with multi-awarded director, Jose Javier “Joey” Reyes, that intangible pull which successful pairings can command is one of the most reliable measures for crafting and delivering a romantic flick that kills (at the box office, and in popularity). But with romance not simply a Valentine industry for filmmakers, we ask, what will it take to keep the love alive?

It’s a little past 11am as direk Joey Reyes saunters into his office in the heart of Quezon City, dressed casually in a predominantly black sporty ensemble, wearing his most attractive accessory – a wide, warm, and welcoming smile that instantly puts one at ease. He makes a beeline for his inner office at the end of the larger one, and after a few seconds, comes right back and directs us to a pair of seats in front of a long work table. After explaining that our tête-à-tête was for the Love Month issue of Talk Talk Tilaok, we dive straight into the heart of the matter.

TTT: Why do you think Filipinos are so fond of romance movies and love stories in movies?

JJR: It’s not something which is uniquely Filipino. I think it is something which is very, very universal. I think what makes the Filipino unique is the kind of love stories that they go for. I think this predilection for romance is something which cuts across all cultures. I think all cultures have love stories, and all cultures treasure love stories – specifically popular culture, but Filipinos love a specific kind of love story, and this is usually involving an underdog. It always has to involve an underdog. I think this can be best personified by all the Sarah Geronimo movies that we have right now. I think Star Cinema has made its mint, has made its branding precisely because of romantic comedies, because these are the ones that really sell. Lately during the Metro Manila Film Festival, they made a killing with One More Try, which is again a love story, which again involves an underdog. But on the usual fare, every year, usually naman ang drama nila is on comedies. The ratio of romantic comedies over dramatic romances would be let’s say, three or four is to one. We love an underdog, specifically a female underdog.

TTT: You mentioned that the ratio seems to be that there are three to four romantic comedies as opposed to tearjerkers. Is there any other kind of romantic story or love story that maybe hasn’t been tapped too much that you would like to see more on the big screen?

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