Filmmaker's dad a no-nonsense senatoriable

April 04, 2019

YOUNG director Pepe Diokno made waves when he was only 21 years old in 2009 when his debut feature film, “Enkwentro”, about two teenage brothers running away from a death squad, won the Luigi de Laurentiis Lion of the Future Award for best debut film in the Venice Filmfest. He later made other acclaimed indie films like “Above the Clouds” starring the late Pepe Smith and a very young Ruru Madrid, and “Kapatiran”, a film about fraternities, an entry in the QCinema Filmfest.

After this he focused on directing “Single/Single” on Cinema One starring Matteo Guidicelli, and did narrative TV commercials that run from 3 to 4 minutes long. “It’s more fulfilling to do the ads in that it gets millions of views in just a matter of minutes. I’m also producing, directing and hosting ‘The Flip Trip’, an international travel show on CNN Philippines.”

Pepe’s full name is Jose Lorenzo Diokno. Jose is from his grandpa, the late freedom fighter and senator, Jose W. Diokno, who he never met as he was born six months after his grandpa passed away. His dream now is to make a filmbio about his late Lolo. Pepe’s dad is Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno, also a topnotch lawyer like his grandpa. Pepe is the eldest of six children of Chel and Divina Aromin. His dad is now running as senator under Otso Diretso and he’s making videos for his dad to help in the campaign. “A video I made about him already has a million views,” says Pepe.

Chel is the 8th of 10 children. Born on February 23, 1961, he got his bachelor’s degree from UP then took up law at the Northern Illinois University where he graduated magna cum laude in 1986. When De La Salle U opened its own college of law in 2010, he was its founding dean and La Salle became the first local law school to highlight human rights and legal aid as part of its program. Chel has now been practicing law for 30 years and has gained prominence as a human rights defender and trial lawyer, He is the chair of FLAG (Free Legal Assistance Group) for the poor which his dad founded. His impressive credentials really speak for him.

His appearance in the ABS-CBN senatorial debate, “Harapan”, proved to be beneficial for Chel. It trended on social media here and abroad. Chel’s replies to varied questions were delivered with a touch of humor, especially in the Fast Talk questions. He quickly gained a lot of fans, especially among the youth voters who think he’s smart, witty, really knows what he’s talking about, straightforward, doesn't just play safe and sounds seriously concerned about the future of our country and the welfare of its people.

Pres. Duterte chided him recently for having a name “na ni hindi malaman kung babae o lalaki”, then said it’s better for voters to choose Freddie Aguilar who he endorses as “the face of Filipino music.” Aguilar helped Duterte in his campaign in 2016.

“I admit that Freddie Aguilar is a better singer than me,” says Chel. “Pero hindi naman kantahan lang ang ginagawa sa Senado. We make laws. Kaya nga, sabi ko, daanin na lang natin sa debate. Ever since, senatorial candidates face each other for debates kasi sa Senado, talagang pinagdedebatehan ang mga panukalang batas. So, para malaman kung sino ang mas may kakayahan na maging senador, mag-debate kami, and let the voters be the judge on who is the better candidate.”

He says candidates who just bank on their popularity refuse to do debates and just rely more on their TV ads, which can be very expensive. “The rich candidates, araw-araw makikita mo ang ads nila sa TV, and people think they are capable dahil nakikita lang ang mukha nila araw-araw. E, kami sa oposisyon, wala kaming budget for TV ads. Even local officials are not receptive kasi they’re afraid na baka maisama sila sa listahan ng narco politicians.”