During his acceptance speech as Best Actor in the recently concluded 4th Singkuwento International Film Festival awards night held at the Leandro Locsin Theater inside the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) building in Intramuros, actor Richard Quan was narrating his lucky charm in his mom.
“Naniniwala ako na ang mga lucky charm natin ay ang ating mga ina (I believe that our lucky charms are our mothers). When I won an award some years back, my mom was also with me. Now, in this occasion, I am also with my mother and here I am winning Best Actor. Mom, this is for you,” Richard beamed with pride as he accepted his award for his role as a Japanese civilian officer and a clergyman of the Inglesia ni Cristo (INC) during the Second World War.
The Japanese is named Yoshiaki Muto, a real person who went to the Philippines in 1939 when he and his brother were stranded in the country supposedly en route by boat to the United States of America. Pending their travel and totally abandoning his US sojourn, Yoshiaki settled in Indang, Cavite and eventually built businesses in the town. He met his first wife and bore her a daughter. During her delivery, she died but their child lived.
Muto remarried and this time a Filipina named Felicidad de Borja Obo from San Pedro, Laguna. They were blessed with children.
Until the war broke out and in the course of its savagery and mayhem, Muto saved a lot of Filipinos especially his fellow INC ministers from beheading and musketry in the hands of unscrupulous Japanese.
During the Liberation, Muto went back to Japan but eventually returned to the Philippines in the 50s where he continued his religious role in INC. He was also reunited with his family but he died in 1962.
Quan was indeed very compelling as Muto not only in his mien as a Japanese officer but his internalization of the role.
Director Nestor Malgapo, Jr., eponym of the son of the popular komiks writer and illustrator, was already a pro film artist in the way he motivated and put together his mise-en-scene. He was a master of ensemble acting considering the many characters the film has to assemble and to landscape in his black and white or sepia screen.
No matter who the director is Richard was an excellent actor.
In totality, the film “Kapayapaan sa Gitna ng Digmaan” was a haunting piece of historical drama, very touching and emotional it digs deeper into one’s heart although the didactic religious tone was prevalent all throughout the screening especially the use of the phrase “Panginoong Diyos” being mouthed by many of its characters.
Quan should be given more challenging and meaty roles in movies and television as he appealed to the audience and the filmmakers to continue its struggles to save the industry from its total wreck if not oblivion.
Richard has been in the entertainment industry for a long time he is able to contextualize all the elements tensioning herein. “Let rise above the decadence of the local film industry,” he said in one of our interviews with him.
He thanked the late writer Eddie Pacheco who Quan said initially believed in his talent. He also paid tribute to the late Armida Siguion-Reyna who gave him the break to act on films. “May Tita Midz inspire us in what she was fighting for in the industry!”