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By: Loy M. Palapos

A film director at twenty-four on two opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean , RD Alba is an epitome of the responsible youth, accomplished for his age, and full of promises. In a country where many artists gain recognition posthumously, and achievement is always associated with age, and the young is only expected to earn his laurels after roughing it up in the tumble of misses and frustrations, Director Alba has proven himself belonging to an elite breed of creative denizens imbued with a deep sense of dexterity in a field where the Darwinian survival of the fittest is the rule.

RD is derived from the first letters of parents Rey Alba and Disi Yap, both successful medical doctors by profession. Christened Jose Simplicio, his grandfather's name. RD was born in Cebu City on September 4,1978 . He is a product of the Bohol Wisdom School , where he was a constant participant in the school's extra-curricular and co-curricular activities. It was during this phase in his life that he decided to be involved in film as a lifetime career. When he was barely three years of age, he wanted to be a pilot, being deeply influenced by his granduncle, Captain Ruperto Luzon, the first Filipino test-pilot. At age seven he was gifted a Betamax movie camera, and this changed his world. During class breaks and weekends he would film a world of make-believe (Oscar awards night, lachrymal episodes, etc.) with members of the family as the cast. The camera became his closest friend as he recorded significant events in the life of their family. While everybody else was enjoying a birthday party, he was filming the event.

Today, even his siblings have grown up, but the Beta tapes are still there, reminders of a young lad and his characters now preparing their lives for the future. Lucy finished her Arts study at the University of the Philippines , had her internship at the Smithsonian Museum in Maryland , and is now an art connoisseur in the Museum of Portland, Oregon. Disi Rae finished the four-year pre-medicine at the University of Santo Tomas , and will soon graduate as a Doctor of Medicine at Southwestern University . Carlo Niño finished a computer course and will graduate with a Master's degree at Informatics-Cebu. Julia May is on her last year in BS-Biology at Velez College and plans to have her regular Medicine at UST.

His mother sees in him “a very good son...honest, responsible, diligent...liwat sa papa.” Even when the entire family established residence for more than a year in the States, RD continued to make home movies with his American neighbors. It does not anymore come as a surprise that he has selected the movie realm as his world. Right after graduation from his secondary course he went abroad and enrolled at the Jacksonville State University , in Alabama , USA where he earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree, major in Drama, and minor in English. Aware that his knowledge still left many things to be desired, he decided to widen his horizons and took up a Master's Degree in Fine Arts, major in Film Directing, in Los Angeles Film School , in Hollywood , California , USA .

It was in Hollywood where he came under the tutelage of brilliant and prominent mentors who have proven themselves the best in the field. Steven Spielberg, director of E. T., Schindler's List, Jaws, Close Encounter of the Third Kind, and many other cinematic masterpieces gave him the rudiments of film direction. He learned from Wes Craven the nuances of horror films, exemplified by the box office success of Scream, Parts 1,2,3 and Nightmare on Elmo Street . He imbibed knowledge of cinematography from Januz Kaminski, the cinematographer of Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List. He learned much from the suspense-thrillers of Jon Amiel, director of Entrapment and Copycat. From Philip Noyce, who directed Clean and Present Danger, he developed further his adroitness in action scences. In comedy he derived his knowledge from Donald Petrie, responsible for megging Miss Congeniality, Grumpy Old Men, and Mystic Pizza. There were many more Hollywood film personalities from whom he absorbed nuggets of ideas which come in handy when he makes his own films.

In the year 2000 RD Alba became a legitimate part of American films. It was during this time when he conceptualized, wrote the script, and directed “Mourning Eve,” which became an official entry to the Los Angeles Film Festival. In the same year he directed “Lust,” a CineManila Entry, which won the Los Angeles Short Film Award. His giftedness behind the camera impressed his most astute film mentors. Then came “Sabangga” in the year 2001, which garnered the Audience Award in the Vancouver Asian Festival 2001. The same film was also given the Swiss Asian Film Festival Award. It was a victory that proved further his great talent in film making. Another international recognition followed. For his “Top Model,” made also in 2001, Director Alba won the Swiss Film Festival Award. That same year he was given the American Film Institute Recognition Award for “Nina.” The same body gave him another recognition later for his other directorial achievement, “Drive.”

RD Alba now resides in West Hollywood , California , but oftentimes fly home to nurture his roots. He produced “A World Without End,” which starred G Toengi and Joel Torre. A true Boholano blood, RD has been back and forth to Bohol and Los Angeles at least three times a year. Filming has always been his passion since his younger years. RD Alba feels lucky to have been where he is at present, experiencing the best in Hollywood and giving back what he has learned to his homeland in terms of entertaining his fellow Filipinos. Director RD Alba is the Assistant Director of “ Reunion ,” a comedy flick starring Cesar Montano and Giselle Sanchez which is now on its post-production stage after months of filming in Bohol . In this movie, Cesar Montano, recently awarded one of the Ten Outstanding Boholanos Around the World, plays the role of a tourist guide. RD is presently directing “Milyonaryong Mini” of ABS-CBN, which he also edits, and which will be shown this coming October.

For the first time in TV history, a Boholano was accorded recognition via the much acclaimed “Kapalaran,” aired over ABS-CBN National TV. It utilized local, national, and foreign talents. The best shots of the TV series showcased the incomparable scenes in Bohol , thereby enhancing the potentials of the province as the number one tourist destination. When the drama series reached the United States , it was viewed by the thousands of Filipinos from California to New York , making the Boholano extremely proud. This could not have happened if not for a boy who dreamed big, not for his own sake, but for his nation. Youth has played a role to his advantage. He has still a long way to go and develop his skills. This young Boholano is a film maker on the rise. He is a son of the East, brought up in the West. RD Alba will soon prove that he has the best of both worlds in order to live up to his passion.



The Bohol Sunday Post, copyright 2006, All Rights Reserved
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September 3, 2006 issue