Film Notes
by Pablo A. Tariman

Into his early 60s, erstwhile action star Roi Vinzon has managed to keep a lean body and with it — his unpredictable sense of humor.

Roi Vinzon:  actors who direct have a distinct advantage over non-actors.

Roi Vinzon: actors who direct have a distinct advantage over non-actors.

Asked how he would have turned out if he didn’t go into showbiz, he bluntly said probably an “ex-convict” which threw the media crowd into uproar.

Then he would go into monologue about the early days and pay tribute to the media persons that he now considers legend (i.e. Eugene Asis, Aster Amoyo and Eddie Littlefield).

He reflects: “That was quite a life. I have no contact with showbiz insiders and I can say that I made it on my own.”

In his high school years, he was a member of the folk-rock band, he worked with Lino Brocka in “Jaguar,” he was into action movies both hero and villain until he resurfaced in the popular teleseryes of the new millennium.

For a while, he quit showbiz to become a gentleman farmer and a full-time father. He lived a life of a recluse in Baguio and lived a simple life with just one or two movies a year.

Indeed, Direk Roi isn’t the kind who will relish his early days in showbiz and gloat about it. One of his early film appearances was in Lino Brocka’s Jaguarwhere he starred with Philip Salvador.

Roi Vinzon with cast of 'Maria Labo.' He learned the basics of directing from Lino Brocka

Roi Vinzon with cast of ‘Maria Labo.’ He learned the basics of directing from Lino Brocka

He has since then appeared in tough hombre roles with film titles like Jesus Salonga Alyas boy Indian, Antonio Cuervo – Police: Walang Pinipili Ang Batas, SIG. 357 Baril Mo Ang Papatay Sa Yo, Kapitan Tumba: The Capt. Jose Huevos Story and Sunugin si Antero Castro, among others.

The millennials will probably connect with him as Ret. Gen. Armando Soriano, the father of Tom Rodriguez in “My Husband’s Lover” where he plays the highly disturbed military man aghast by the discovery that he has a married, gay son.

But after appearing in “Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicle,” offers came one after another.

Then he came across the story of Maria Labo whose very name elicited terror and repulsion among the Visayans notably Iloilo, Capiz and other adjoining provinces.

Maria Labo was an OFW working in Dubai and came home a strange woman who became predator of the human flesh.

Direk Roi admits the story of the woman is indeed ghastly and since nothing about the woman’s background was explored in any movie (except perhaps Resureksyon?), he considers it a challenge to accept the project.

“When you direct an unusual story, “he points out, “you must believe in it and admit the possibility that it can happen in real life. A director can only pursue the story with the help of his actors.”

Actors Jestoni Alarcon and Dennis Padilla can only agree.

“You cannot give everything you have as an actor if you don’t believe in the story,” adds Alarcon. “You can only act and react only if you believe such a human being can actually exist.”

Direk Roi says actors who turn to directing later have a good advantage over non-actors. “It pays to have a dual occupation,” says he. “If you started as an actor and ended up a director, you will have a good feel of the best of two worlds. When good roles don’t come, directing is a good fallback position. But it was as an actor that I learned what a good director should be like. When the late Lino Brocka was directing, I observed how he

Poster of "Maria Labo." Another strange tale of  an OFW who came home a human predator.

Poster of “Maria Labo.” Another strange tale of an OFW who came home a human predator.

treated his actors, how he inspired them, how he guided them when the going was rough. I suppose I imbibed that attitude because I give my actors time to learn their roles and how to make the most of it. Being an actor gives you an upper hand when you turn to directing because once upon a time, you also started as an aspiring actor before you got your first big breaks.”

The character of Maria Labo has a grim background fit for cinema and for this reason, Vinzon said he easily said yes to the project.” The story of the villain has an unusual twist not yet explored in horror films,” he adds.

Maria Labo stars Jestoni Alarcon, Dennis Padilla, Baron Geisler, Mon Confiado, Sam Pinto, Rez Cortez and with a new face named Kate Brios in the title role.

It opens in all theaters on November 11.

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