UMPIL awardee Jose Javier Reyes

UMPIL awardee Jose Javier Reyes

If there is one visible personality in this recent quarantine “season,” it is none other than Jose Javier Reyes or Direk Joey.  

His blogs and tweets about Korean dramas caused a nationwide discussion on the addictive qualities of K-dramas and the reasons they enamored the Filipino audiences.

He spearheaded the creation of safety protocols for film and audiovisual production with the Philippine Motion Picture Producers Association (PMPPA) and the Inter-Guild Alliance (IGA) during this Covid-19 pandemic.

He adapted blended learning as chairperson of the Digital Filmmaking (DFilm) Program of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) School of Design and Arts (SDA) in this new normal education.

Former students James Fuentes and Alex Supnet with Direk Joey

Former students James Fuentes and Alex Supnet with Direk Joey

Out of his quarantined life, good news came when the Writers Union of the Philippines (UMPIL), the biggest organization of Filipino writers, announced that it was bestowing the 2020 Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas Award in Screenplay, a lifetime achievement award for a Filipino writer, on Direk Joey. 

“This is a most endearing award,” he tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. There is still no definite date for when the awarding will be, however. 

Before Direk Joey pursued his master’s degree in the US, he only had written one screenplay, Problem Child (1979), a film directed by Elwood Perez. After his studies, he wrote Caught in the Act (1981) for Lino Brocka and Boys Town (1981) with Marilou Diaz Abaya. He met Peque Gallaga through his best friend, Don Escudero, who wanted to make a coming-of-age film about the brutal loss of innocence during the Second World War and thus, the classic film, Oro Plata Mata, was born.

Reyes' family trip in Japan

Reyes’ family trip in Japan

In television, he wrote for 27 years for ABS-CBN, pioneering signature shows Let’s Get Crazy (starring Maricel Soriano and Joey de Leon), Tonight with Dick and Carmi (Roderick Paulate and Carmi Martin), Palibhasa Lalake (Richard Gomez, Joey Marquez, Miguel Rodriguez, Gloria Romero), Abangan ang Susunod na Kabanata (Noel Trinidad, Tessie Tomas, Anjo Yllana), among others.  

He wrote the story and libretto of Katy! The Musical, based on the life of Philippine Vaudeville Queen Katy dela Cruz. Every Christmas, we hear the easy beat of Kumukutikutitap, which he penned with music from National Artist Ryan Cayabyab.  

From his many achievements, not a lot of people know that he is a doting Tito to his nephews Marci Reyes, an advertising executive, and Mark Reyes, also a director. They have a yearly Japan bonding, but due to the pandemic, their trip for 2020 has been postponed.

Alex Supnet besides Joey Reyes (3rd row, 3rd from right)

Alex Supnet besides Joey Reyes (3rd row, 3rd from right)

“When my dad passed away, I had just started college. It was my Tito Joey who took care of my education,” says Mark, adding that his tito remains his greatest influence. “Together with my lolo, he became our surrogate father growing up. He took on the role of the Spartan uncle who had no qualms of setting me and my brother straight if we goofed up.”

The GMA 7 director adds: “He is really just this big wide-eyed, cool kid with the intelligence of a computer, and his spectrum of creativity is that of a kaleidoscope! I honestly believe that we have the coolest, funniest, wittiest, and most over-achieving tito on the planet. We are grateful for the love he gives, the lessons he shares, and the laughter he never fails to elicit from everyone around him.”

Unknown to many, Direk Joey has a generous heart for his students. Secretly, he would shoulder tuition fees of underprivileged students when tuition deadlines were not met.

Marci, Joey and Mark Reyes

Marci, Joey and Mark Reyes

“It doesn’t feel like you’re ‘working’ if you’re with him as it is always a happy set (cliché as it may seem), he is such a joy!” says Alex Supnet, a former student of his who now works as production coordinator in his film outfit, Largavista Entertainment. “As a mentor, he gives you that ‘extra push’ when needed. He knows how to believe in your capabilities and even beyond of what you can do.”

As Direk Joey’s mantra imparts, you “accept, adapt, and advance” in any situation.

But whatever other awards he will receive in the future,” Mark says, “his best title will always be: my Tito Joey.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (