Talent manager Ferdy Lapuz was in a quandary as he received FB comments his talent, actor Soliman Cruz, was not wearing appropriate attire during the red carpet walk at the recently concluded 79th Venice International Film Festival.
It turned out the actor’s luggage (with the tuxedo, brand new barong and shoes) did not arrive in Venice in time for the actor’s red-carpet walk. He was forced to buy a simple white long sleeve at nearby department store.
“Nawala po ang luggage ni Soliman kaya hindi siya nakapag barong,” Lapuz posted on FB to placate FB critics.
Cruz was one of the lead actors in the Romanian film, To the North, competing in the Orizzonti section of the Venice film fest. He just won the best supporting actor trophy in the recently concluded Cinemalaya film fest for the film Blue Room.
He is just one in the many actors in the stable of talents of Ferdy Lapuz.
Lapuz’ showbiz career started way back in the late 80s with his stint as trainee for Viva Television. “I was a part of Let’s Have Dina show on IBC 13 starring Dina Bonnevie directed by Al Quinn. Then I became associate producer for Regal TV.”
He handled several projects among them Regal Shockers, Mother Studio Presents and Maricel Regal Drama Special. “It was just for a few months because I went back to school. Eventually I migrated to Canada.”
At the time, he was directly involved in some film projects in the conceptualization, casting and then worked on the international film festival participation of the films.
All told, he has logged 15 years as a producer and 11 years as talent manager. Early on, he also helped Filipino films in the festival circuit among them Sibak (1994) at the Toronto International Festival. “I found my own way to find connections in the business and I became friends with directors Mel Chionglo, Joel Lamangan, Chito Rono and the Siguion Reynas (Tita Midz, Carlitos and Bibeth).”
Some of the films he helped find film fest connections were Mario O’Hara’s Babae Sa Breakwater which made it in the 1994 Director’s Fortnight in Cannes and Maryo delos Reyes’ Magnifico which was the first film to compete in the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. It won the Crystal Bear and Golden Prix Award in Berlinale’s Kinderfest.
Another film he helped find film fest exposure was Auraeus Solito’s Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros which won in Montreal and again in Berlin.
The high moment of his life as producer was in 2008 when the Brillante Mendoza film Serbis competed in the Cannes film fest. “It was the first Filipino film to compete since Lino Brocka’s Kapit sa Patalim in 1984. In 1989, Mendoza won Best Director in Cannes for Kinatay and our other film, Lola, competed again in Venice.”
Another talent under his wing is actress Dolly de Leon who won critical notices in Cannes for her appearance in the Ruben Ostlund film, Triangle of Sadness. Other talents include Carlos Dala, Topper Fabregas, Bombi Plata. teen actors Ynigo Delen and CX Navarro and upcoming actors Jericho Arceo, Yian Gabriel, Dincent Lucero, Luri Naluz. “I co-manage Therese Malvar with GMA Sparkle,” he said.
From his experience, one who contemplates of managing talents should love Filipino movies and television and should be updated on the coming and goings of showbiz personalities. “Sometimes I discover talents by just watching movies and television. That’s how I discovered actor Sue Prado now managed by IdeaFirst Company where I worked as producer for their movies.”
At some point in his showbiz life, he was commuting between Manila and Canada where he stayed from 1990 until 2015. In 1997, he worked in the talent center of ABC5 under June Torrejon-Rufino. “I handled the late Caloy Ogag Alde and Mickey Ferriols at the time.”
While working in the purchasing department of an import company in Canada, he found time to entertain Filipino delegates participating in the Toronto International Film Festival. “In September, I would take my vacation and entertain the Filipino delegates from directors, actors to key staff of the films. I would arrange their pick up and drop off at the airport, schedule dinners in Filipino restaurants and sometimes, even a trip to Niagara Falls. I had a friend who called me Bona (from the Lino Brocka film of the same title) because of what I did. I was never ashamed to be called Bona (the alalay) because I love what I was doing.”
He has experienced milestones in showbiz but these didn’t change his life.
Unlike some high-profile managers, he lives a simple life in Angeles City surrounded by plants and taking care of his mother. “I am pretty much grounded. I live in Angeles City and have the same circle of friends for more than 30 years. The only big difference is that I have easy access to film celebrities. among them actors, directors, writers, editors, production designers, among others. I remember lining up at the Metropolitan Theater lining up to watch Vilma (Santos).”
By serendipity, he had the chance to work with Santos (Vilma) in the Jeffrey Jeturian film, Ekstra. I was starstruck when I saw Ricky Lee, Charlie Arceo, Rody Lacap, Manet Dayrit, the late Tatus Aldana, Edgar Martin Littaua and Malou Santos in Toronto.”
He became a plantito during the pandemic and spent a fortune propagating them. “What I learned during the long lockdown is to learn how to save money and staying healthy. Money can’t buy you good health.”
Fulfillment is watching his talents get recognition like the latest shower of praises for his talents Soliman Cruz and Dolly de Leon, among others.
“I am a movie fan. I enjoy every bit of my work in showbiz. I love being surrounded by actors and staff and crew because we share the same passion. I also get to travel during shooting. I also get the opportunity to travel outside of the country when we attend international film festivals.”
Thus far, he has been to some 90 international film festivals in his showbiz career.
It is a fairly good life for one who worked as a working student at Dunkin Donuts to finish his business administration course at the Holy Angel University in Angeles City.
He cannot single out a favorite film he has helped produce over the others. “I am proud of all the films that I produced. It is not a perfect filmography but each film has connection in my life. I would like to mention Cris Pablo’s 2005 film, Bathouse. That was the first time I saw my name acknowledged as producer on the big screen.”