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Remembering Pablo S. Gomez: Writer, Director, Master Story Teller

If you got the chance to ask the much awarded veteran director Pablo S. Gomez to discuss his stories, novels and scripts since he began his writing career way back in the 1950s, he will surely lose track of time talking about them. At the peak of his career, he was producing and churning out 10-odd weekly comics serializations for a number of publications. He also had several movie and television assignments that kept him busy almost every day of the week.

Gomez studied at the Legarda Elementary School, Jose Abad Santos High School and the National Teacher’s College. He also took up a secretarial course at the Underwood Business Institute, a course in beauty culture at the Beautician’s Academy and Little Business Bureau at the Ateneo de Manila Small Business Institute.

He made it a point to never turn his back on his humble beginnings. When he was just a child, Gomez was earning a few centavos for himself by washing the dishes at his uncle’s restaurant in the afternoon, selling puto bumbong in the evening, a puto-bibingka-kutsinta hawker early in the morning and a newspaper boy on Sundays.

During his teens, he earned a living working as a laborer at the Pandacan Oil Company. After World War II, when the Japanese and American forces destroyed most of the buildings in Manila, he helped in the repair of the old Legislative Building and the Quirino Grandstand at the Luneta Park. He also worked as a laundryman and a cook.

Pablo Salonga Gomez was born in Sampaloc, Manila on January 25, 1930 to Pacita Salonga and Olimpio Gomez, seventh sibling in a brood of 12. Olimpio’s sudden and early death left Pablo on his own. During the late 1940s, Gomez’s English teacher Miss Andrade noticed that he had a natural talent in writing and introduced him to Angel Santos, editor of Tagalog Classics comics. Santos handed the young Gomez a comic script for him to study at home.

The first short story that he wrote, titled “Ang Baliw sa Libingang Luma,” was immediately published when he submitted it to the editor. His first comic script was titled Putol na Kamay. He was then offered to work as a proofreader, earning P1.80 a week.

Gomez’s first movie was Lagrimas, a short story he wrote which was bought by Tor Villano for P500 (a huge sum back then) and first serialized on AM radio. Lagrimas starred Lita Rio, Jaime Castelvi and introducing an unknown, new actor named Edgardo Llanes—the late Nemesio Yabut who became the mayor of Makati for many years.

Gomez then became assistant editor and after a few years, chief editor of the following publications: Pilipino Komiks, Tagalog Klasiks, Hiwaga Komiks and Espesyal Komiks.

His first movie for Sampaguita Pictures was Apat na Taga which he wrote under the pseudonym Carlos Gonda. When the studio liked and bought the other stories that he submitted tom them, he decided to use his real name. At one time or another, during his peak output as a screenwriter, all the other movie/film production companies like FPJ, Larry Santiago, LVN, Premier, Regal, Viva and Seiko were using his creations. Gomez estimated that around 300 of the stories that he wrote since he began way back have been filmed and made into movies.

In 1962, when the employees of Ace Publications decided to go on strike, Gomez worked for a while for Gold Star Publication, which was headed by Rudy Ner Siongco. In 1963, he decided to put up his own publishing company called the PSG Publishing House, which eventually published best-selling comics like Continental, Planet, Kidlat, United and Universal. The high cost of financing such a company forced PSG Publishing House to close in 1974. Gomez had no choice but to sell the property and the business that he had set up.

After his stint as publisher, Gomez then became a regular contributor of Graphic Arts and it was during this time that Fernando Poe Jr. noticed the work that he was doing. Susan Roces then asked him to give her several samples and materials of his work. He immediately sent Roces five stories, which FPJ liked when he read them all.

That Gomez’s success wasn’t a fluke is evident by the box office hits which followed after that crucial meeting with Susan Roces and FPJ, like Alupihang Dagat, Anino ng Araw, Anak ng Tondo, Tatak ng Alipin, Little Christmas Tree, Mahal, Saan Ka Nanggaling Kagabi, Mahal, Ginabi Ka Na Naman, Yari Na ang Balang Papatay sa Iyo and Hindi pa Tapos ang Laban, to name a few. He then followed his winning streak by becoming a movie director under Emperor Films and directed the movies Babaing Makasalanan, Lalaking Salawahan and Lalaki, Ikaw ang Dahilan. Gomez also co-directed with Rudy Meyer and wrote Triponia for Gem Productions. He then produced, wrote and co-directed with Meyer the film Bubot na Bayabas under Gomez-Meyer Films.

He was also a radio announcer in the Binay Bulilit program that was aired over DZRH and he also had a daily show, Si Eva at si Edan with Matimtiman Cruz over ABS-CBN. He was also commissioned to write soap operas most of which were filmed by SPI. He also wrote the Hilda TV series for over a year with Romy Suzara as the director. He also contributed to the TV show Makulay Na Daigdig Ni Nora.

Gomez finally became a TV director and writer in Mga Kuwentong Ginto Ni Pablo S. Gomez, which was produced by June and Randy Rufino. Unfortunately, the project did not last for long.

Gomez discovered many local showbiz celebrities and helped launch their careers, like George Canseco, Toto, Victor Wood, Dindo Fernando, Loreta Marquez, Raul Aragon, German Moreno, Matimtiman Cruz, Dante Rivero, Philip Salvador, Lito Lapid, Eddie Miller, Ricky Valencia, Anthony Jay Consunji and Alex David.

He became the late Pablo Santiago’s favorite writer for his son Raymart who starred in the movies Anak ng Pasig, Sakristan Mayor, Haring Daga and Ikaw Lamang Wala Nang Iba. He also worked on the FPJ-Sharon Cuneta starrer Kahit Konting Pagtingin.

“To be a good writer, you have to be inquisitive, tsismoso, you have to be a rolling stone, very observant and a wide reader. The stories that you write must be based on what you see, what you hear, what you read and what you experience. I read anything that interests me but I seldom read the classics. You can read the real stories in the daily tabloids and newspapers. The only hobby I have is watching movies and watching the TV. The secret of my success is that the stories I write have heart. May puso. The most important aspects are those that happen in everyday life. People can easily associate themselves with the stories that I write,” said Gomez.

“I love to travel a lot and I keep on writing. I have written several novels for different publications. I base a lot of my stories on my life experiences because I can easily capture the imagination of the reader through real-life drama. I have been through a lot and have weathered the ups and downs of life and I don’t think anyone or anything can faze me anymore. I have many acquaintances but I only have several true friends but I am very grateful for these few but sincere ones. Best of all, I am grateful to the good Lord above whose unwavering and eternal friendship I would not exchange for anything else in the world,” Gomez revealed.

By Jose K. Lirios