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Roll Credits: Mel Chionglo’s Story Ends

Critically praised director, screenwriter, and production designer passes away



Mel ChiongloPhoto courtesy of Cinemalaya

Veterans in the local movie and TV industry mourned the passing away of prolific filmmaker Carmelo Chionglo, better known as Mel Chionglo, on Saturday last weekend, Sept. 21. Famous for his dramatic films, the Director’s Guild of the Philippines co-founder breathed his last at the age of 73.

Chionglo began his illustrious career in the film industry as a production designer back in the mid-’70s, working on movies such as Mike de Leon’s The Rites of May or Itim (1977), Ishmael Bernal’s Walang Katapusang Tag-araw (1977), Lino Brocka’s Mother, Sister, Daughter (1979), Joey Gosiengfiao’s Temptation Island (1980), Eddie Romero’s Aguila (1980), to name a few.

He soon became a director himself, debuting with Regal’s Playgirls (1981). Some of the other works he directed include a trilogy of award-winning films that deal with male prostitution Burlesk King (1990), Midnight Dancers (1994), and Twilight Dancers (2006); and his last directorial assignment Deliver us or Iadya Mo Kami (2016).

Chionglo was a toast in the international film festival circuit, of which he had been religiously doing the rounds since 1987. His Burlesk King brought home the Best Feature award from the 1999 Chicago Film Festival while Iadya Mo Kami won the Silver Remi in 2016 from the WorldFest Houston International Film and Video Festival in Texas.

An industry leader and a mentor, Chionglo also helped propel the careers of notable actors like Alice Dixson with Dyesebel (1990) and Piolo Pascual with Lagarista (2000). He served as the competition director and head of the monitoring committee of the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival. He was also once a member of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.

We will remember Chionglo, a man with over 40 films to his name, as one of the greats of Philippine cinema, a quiet yet formidable force in the Filipino film industry.

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