For an icon known for his written words spoken by famous actors or plot lines that turn Filipino movies into classics, it’s interesting to note that screenwriter Ricky Lee’s ultimate passion is music.
I was fortunate enough to land a slot in the 14th batch of his famed free scriptwriting workshop years ago. For a number of Sundays, I got to witness the soft-spoken master impart his thoughts, share his experiences, and simply just appear in front of us to serve as an inspirational figure. The workshop boosted my psyche as a writer-musician.
“Music ang ultimate passion ko. It energizes me, connects me, keeps me grounded, and elevates me,” Sir Ricky, as workshoppers call him, shared in an email interview. “Pag nalulungkot ako, pag masaya, pag di makasulat, pag nagsusulat. Basta, sa akin music ang magic sa lahat.”
If not for this ongoing pandemic, I would have revisited his home library where his workshops are usually held or spend time with him sound-trippin’ in his living room.
When I asked what type of music he often listens to, I was a bit surprised as I was kind of expecting some slow-tempo genre to calm his mind. His response: “I usually play rock, or at least any bouncy tune. The beat pushes me kasi. Like when I was writing ‘Para Kay B,’ (novel) I was playing Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida’ CD the whole time. It really energizes me in a deeper way.”
Yeah, that’s music from a 21st-century stadium act, not by a folk singer in the ‘70s.
As he himself admits, his playlist is eclectic. He listens to Broadway, rap, hard rock, OPM, and, yes, BTS.
Lately, he’s been listening to Ed Sheeran’s cover of “Make It Rain,” and Cheyenne Jackson’s take of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.”
The seasoned scriptwriter’s grasp for such a diverse list of preferences is tight and telling. It has helped him face with a rejuvenated mindset the ever-changing people who want to learn from him. He noted, “Bago ako magsimula ng bawat araw sa workshop, I would turn on my playlist to prepare me. My usual playlist consists of some of my favorites — Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, The Decemberists, Green Day, and Joni Mitchell.”
He elaborated on the value of rhythm and cited his work for the classic Moral to demonstrate it. He explained, “Yung rhythm ng music ay nakakatulong nang malaki sa rhythm ng script na sinusulat ko. Like when I was writing ‘Moral,’ I followed its structure on the rhythm of Van Morrison’s ‘Madame George.’ Very loose, free-flowing lang, paulit-ulit na dumadaloy lang.”
If there’s any doubt how music matters to one incomparable artist whose medium makes its own sound minus any music, here’s a climactic take from him who made us all believe that miracle happens through us: “Music talks of infinity, mga di maikulong sa salita o sa screen. I don’t think I can write, nor survive, pag namatay ang music sa mundo.”
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