Yahoo Philippines OMG! sits down with the men behind the movie adaptation of this Filipino literary classic—Viva executive VP Vincent Del Rosario, creative manager Eric Cabahug and director Mark Meily—to fish for information Bob Ong fans ought to know about the mysterious author and the movie.
1.) A high school student (pretty much the demographic of ABNKKBSNPLAko readers) inspired its filming. The fan happens to be Del Rosario’s son, who insisted that his dad read the book a few years back.
2.) ABNKKBSNPLAko is Viva Films’ latest bid to reclaim its golden years when it used to adapt komiks into movies like Bituing Walang Ningning and Captain Barbell.
3.) After several failed attempts to find Ong, Viva was finally able to link with his agent—VisPrint publisher Nida Ramirez—the only person who probably knows the real man behind the pseudonym. The negotiation to acquire ABNKKBSNPLAko and his other book (Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin) went smoothly until they made a deal in March 2012.
4.) Ong was never present during the negotiation period and only exchanged emails with Viva bosses and Ramirez. Del Rosario tried to bait the author-at-large (“Sabi namin, ‘Uy hindi namin pwede i-release ang tseke kung hindi ikaw mismo ang magre-receive.’”) but he was unsuccessful.
5.) A film buff himself (this is quite noticeable in some of his books), Ong thought his books aren’t filmable. But film executives assured him it can be done. As one fan puts it: “In Mark Meily we trust.”
6.) Before saying yes, Ong showed what readers meant to him and gave Viva management a few “bilins”—among them to keep readers’ expectations in mind. “Don’t antagonize the readers,” he said.
7.) Viva initially considered Daniel Padilla and Enrique Gil for the lead part. But after considering that he’s transforming from high school kid to grown-up teacher, Jericho Rosales became the logical choice.
8.) Expect to see lesser-known literary characters highlighted in the movie. And expect them to belong to Ong’s regular circle.
9.) The movie is an updated version of the book as it includes a few passages the author inserted in the book’s 12th anniversary edition.
10.) Viva execs chose Palanca-winning writer Ned Trespeces to write the screenplay, with hopes that his experience in writing another youth-oriented movie (Star Cinema’s “Jologs,” 2002) could do justice to the well-loved book.
11.) Meily admitted he inserted scenes that are not in the book to fill in the gap and smoothen the transition to cinema.
12.) Overall, the bosses expect mixed reactions (especially from hardcore readers), but they assure the audience the movie tries to be true to the book.
13.) One last tip: Find time to read the book before watching the movie on February 19.
This is not related to the movie, but something Bob Ong fan boys surely would love to know: Meily shared that one young filmmaker submitted a script to a local film festival about Ong’s kidnapping. The selection committee members liked it, but the project never pushed through because the author’s camp didn’t approve of it. The movie that never was pretty much summarizes how “obsessed” this generation is on the author we’ve come to know as Bob Ong.