Seymour Barros Sanchez, Contributor
March 6, 2003

Since acclaimed writer Ricky Lee started holding free scriptwriting workshops to selected individuals more than 20 years ago, he has successfully helped several aspiring writers enter the competitive world of cinema and television with the scripts they had subsequently completed.

Last February 22, Lee’s 14th batch of workshop attendees received their certificates of graduation from their mentor at the Lean Alejandro Hall in UP Diliman.  Coordinators Jerry Siapoc and Ben Cho assisted him in handing out the certificates as guest writers from previous batches and other institutions witnessed the affair.

“I hope you would continue writing more scripts and storylines even after the end of our workshop,” said the head writer of ABS-CBN’s “Maalaala Mo Kaya” and “Bituin.”  Lee, who also wrote Filipino film classics such as “Moral,” “Salome,” and “Himala” and contemporary films like “Mila,” “Anak,” and “Rizal,” vowed to support those who are immediately interested in starting their scriptwriting career as he did for some past workshop attendees who are now working regularly as writers for film and TV.

This early, the latest batch of workshop graduates has already produced a winning scriptwriter in the person of Agustin Sugatan, Jr. who bagged third place in the Carlos Palanca Awards for Literature screenplay category last year.  An independent filmmaker by profession, he gained more confidence in his writing after his work “Fish Crackers” was recognized by the said award-giving body.

Sugatan attributes his victory to his batch’s weekly evaluation of their written works even after the workshop has ended.  “We would usually meet after office hours to critique each other’s script,” he said.  Fellow Batch 14 member Leilanie Villanueva, who also serves as the deputy executive director of the Policy Review and Editorial Services, Inc. (PRESS), would often volunteer her office as venue for their meetings.

Aside from Sugatan, others have also made significant contributions to their batch’s list of achievements.  Nestor De Guzman, a UP Press staff member, and Lovely Barba, now working in a Makati-based advertising agency, were part of the successful Cinemanila film festival held last year.  Pamela Ann Miras, winner of the 13th Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video short film feature category and the Gawad URIAN best short film award three years ago for her entry “Reyna ng Kadiliman,” also had another short, “Bongga: Best in Wedding Gown” screened at the said filmfest along with Sugatan’s “Supot.”

Other members are also slowly carving their niche in the industry in one way or another.  At present, Jake Bacud is pitching his ideas as a co-writer for an upcoming film remake.  Rod Divinagracia is now strutting his wares as a writer at ABS-CBN after being a part of the “Eat Bulaga” creative group last year.  Seymour Sanchez regularly contributes film reviews and related articles to online and print media.  Carol Solis-Da Silva is a translator and dubber for Tagalized series and cartoons.

Poet Jose Jason Chancoco had his recent works published in literary sections of several magazines.  Alvin Campos and Yugel Losorata works for the Manila Bulletin.  Mario Banzon is currently employed at the Manila Standard.  Adin Abillar works in the news department of PTV-4.  Christian Lacuesta, the batch’s recognized film authority, is currently in Zambales finishing his short stories.

Actress Princess Punzalan, who is seen regularly on GMA-7’s soap opera “Kung Mawawala Ka,” is also a part of the same batch.  After writing her own storyline, sequence treatment, and script like the others, she admitted that the workshop helped her understand the motives of a scriptwriter in doing a film.  “I’ve developed a good appreciation of films with a tightly written script and how it results into a relatively better movie,” she revealed.

Anna Isabelle Matutina, an AVID editor for ABS-CBN soap operas, and John Anthony Wong, a former 102.7 STAR FM DJ and newscaster, are more inclined on video/film editing but they also make it a point to write their own scripts when the need arises.  Wong, who has decided to put up his own company Elemental Revolution, is currently working on a 3D-animation about a legendary Pinoy action hero.

Understandably, the artistically inclined have also managed to squeeze out their creative juices in order to finish their scripts.  Krispin Ontong is a web design and computer programming instructor at the AMA Computer University.  Bernadette Reyes is expected to finish her fine arts course at the College of Holy Spirit after a recent group exhibit at SM Megamall.  Richard Legaspi is a computer graphic artist for a packaging company.  Elbert Or, still an undergraduate student at Ateneo, works part-time as a storyboard artist and comics illustrator.

Or, the youngest in the batch, said that the workshop has influenced him to write more visually.  “I have learned to follow the conventions of a film, the beats and rhythms of writing, thus making my dialogues more concise now,” he explained.

Apart from Barba, Pia Roxas and Peegy Yparraguirre are also involved in advertising.  Roxas, who has just completed her film as a requirement for another workshop at CCP, is a copywriter for Ogilvy & Mather while Yparraguirre is currently with the New Zealand Milk company after working for Leo Burnett.

Meanwhile, four have marketing-related jobs for various companies.  Mary Grace Gayoso, a former writer for a morning TV show, is now handling group sales and marketing for Philamlife corporate accounts.  Imee Lumbab does marketing for the Philippine Airlines head office and can usually be found hanging out at Greenbelt when a filmfest is being held there.  Annie Maureen Tamayo-Uy is a marketing assistant for Banco de Oro and Jessie James Abastillas worked for Wyeth Philippines and Globe before he joined the workshop.

Mary Angelica Reginaldo, a newspaper distributor, is hoping that she will gain her much-awaited break in the TV industry this year.  Christopher Belmonte is a research specialist at the DOST-Philippine Textile Research Institute.  Young businesswoman Richarest Velasco still keeps in touch with the group through email, as her job often requires her to travel to different places.  Lenin De Guzman, a talent manager for Star Records, has worked with Bacud before on a music-related endeavor.  Xedric Luna-Pison is a law student who has offered her services in several film-related projects before.

Grace Orbon, a former writer and director for campus stage plays, is in charge of coordinating the group’s activities through the help of egroup moderator Sanchez, Legaspi, Barba and Reyes.  During their graduation, the batch also deemed it fit to form the writers group Katorse and vowed to pool their resources as they intend to join more writing contests this year.

“We really believe that each member of the group can maximize his or her full potential with the help of our other batchmates.  Despite our differences, we can still achieve our goals if we’ll continue to support one another even after the workshop,” Orbon stressed.

“This is just a fitting tribute to Sir Ricky who believes that competition should not get in the way of a writer’s success.  Siguro magandang birthday gift na rin namin ito sa kanya,” said Legaspi.  Lee will turn 55 on March 19.

In an industry characterized by endless bickering and senseless intrigues, bonding together in the attainment of a common objective can become their greatest weapon in the near future.



  1. Good Day po,

    I would like to inquire when po ulit ang scriptwriting workshop ni sir Ricky Lee?Gusto ko pong sumali thanks!!

  2. katorseshorts Says:

    hi mercy,

    unfortunately, ricky lee hasn’t been holding scriptwriting workshops for quite some time now. i guess his schedule couldn’t accommodate this anymore. however, there are always other scriptwriting workshops you can attend. most of these are held during the summer. UP and mowelfund are the more popular ones, but there are also other alternative workshops held by indie companies.

    good luck!

  3. aldy quinquileria Says:

    tanong ko lang po kung meron pa sript writing workshop.thank you po.gusto ko sumali.libre po ba?kung hindi,magkano?

  4. Lenin de Guzman Says:

    Sayang naman po kung hindi na muli makakapag-hold ng workshop si Ricky Lee gaya ng dati. Maganda po ang kanyang nagagawa sa mga aspiring writers in our country. Kahit sana sa mga maliliit na provinces sya mag-hold ay tunay na ikatutuwa ng mga kababayan natin. His workshop enabled me to write much better songs and good correspondences and more so with my public speeches that I make. It’s like writing stories in news forms and other related matters. My skills in writing has paved way for me to become the Phililppine Ambassadress of Qatargas. Really, I gained confidence in my writing from Mr. Ricky Lee’s workshop. I am so glad I was a part of it!

  5. how can I be a part of the workshop? thanks!

  6. Hello po! I am from Davao City I work as a Guidance Counselor in one of the school here in the City.I am looking forward to visit you one of these days.. I am referred by Direk Al Eugenio. I was asking him if there is such a school to learn how to write stories.. I mean becoming a writer… Since I met many worth to share a stories that can also benefit other people. I guess that is always been part of the objective of the many writers.. Hope you can help me to reach your place and become one of your student.. God bless:)

    • katorseshorts Says:

      Hi, Edelyn! We’re currently holding school and provincial screenings of our films “Paano Ko Sasabihin?” (How Do I Tell You?), “Handumanan” (Remembrance), and our short films listed here in cooperation with the Writers Studio Foundation established by our mentor Ricky Lee. Hope we can visit Davao one of these days. Are you from the University of Immaculate Conception? Thanks!

  7. hi! Since Ricky Lee isn’t holding workshops anymore, would you know any credible writer still conducting workshops that I could join?


  8. cristina minoura Says:

    dear sir,
    am in japan right now and tend to come home soon. i really want to see you in person coz i want to share my experiences here and share the lesson and moral values to all filipinos. i met you when i was in college at ceu, i took mass comm there. have a nice day and hope to see you

  9. odette dune bachoco Says:

    hi sir ricky lee… im very much interested to join in your writing workshop…how can i join?

  10. donalyn opiniano Says:

    can i have the summary of your work mila???
    please.. I really really need this….
    please..the deadline of it is on thursday

  11. Lla M. Cagungun Says:

    hi. i would just like to inquire on the date of your writing workshop for 2011.
    may i know when the application will start and how to apply.i am very much interested to try to make it i the workshop.

  12. Lla M. Cagungun Says:

    good day. i would just like to inquire on the date of the writing workshop for 2011. when and how can i apply for this workshop?

  13. Good morning Sir Rickly Lee.

    I would like to inquire about your free screenplay workshop.

    I would appreciate it very much if you could advise us the next schedule of your workshop.

  14. Hi everyone,

    I met Sir Ricky Lee yesterday at ELJ Bldg. near ABS-CBN and he mentioned that he just had his workshop there and about to go home. I didn’t know that he hadn’t made any workshops in a while back. I got a little starstruck since I wasn’t expecting to meet him there and wasn’t able to inquire about the workshop but good thing he handed me his calling card.

    Anyway, sana may workshop pa uli siya after the one he’sdoing right now.
    Hopefully maka-join ako.

  15. Erika de Belen Says:

    Hi All!:)

    Please do inform me if Sir Lee will hold another workshop. This is my dream and passion, and would really appreciate an opportunity to explore it more. I’m sure a lot of you would like to go to his workshop as well. Hopefully, see you there!:)

  16. haist, isa akong aspiring scriptwriter at gusto ko talaga maging scriptwriter katulad ni sir Ricky Lee, tumatanggap din pa ba ng bagong scriptwriter ang abs-cbn today 2011 to year beyond? nag start na ako mag sulat ng script, isang action/comedy/love story. naks. tungkol ito sa crush ko at sa akin. xD

  17. Camille Nepomuceno Says:

    Wow.. Batch 14? I was a part of Batch 2.. Kudos to Sir Ricky for being so generous in sharing his cup of tea..

  18. funny pics…


  19. hai panu po magjoin? kc po gxto ko mgjoin.

  20. i hope n mksali po ako at mtanggap kc po mhilig ako gumawa ng kwento.pero nwlan po ako ng pag asa kc po prang d ko maabot pngarap ko . i lose hope po kc.. help me po how to mold my talent.

  21. Enrique Nebrida Says:

    just want to ask, where to get the registration form on free script writing workshop with abs -cbn

  22. I love arts..want to be part of scriptwritercaravan..=)

  23. Do we need to have our manuscripts copyrighted before sending it in?

  24. How about writers living in the US? How can they avail of the workshop? Will there be an online writing workshop if possible?

  25. vow ako sa grupo na nagawang panatilihing buo despite the different path each member takes

  26. What do you think of my stories? google E.L. Minell Maikling Kwento

  27. mahilig po akong magsulat ng mga kwento, gusto ko po sana ma-enhance pa o mlaman if my talent po b talaga ako sa pagsusulat. sana po matulungan niyo po ako. thanks po!

  28. susan brollier Says:

    Matagal ko na po pangarap ang matuto kung paano mag sulat .Nais ko pong malaman kung may online scriptwriting siminar. Sana po malaman ko kung may schedule po next year para makapagbakasyon po ako.Meron po ako mga nagawa na nasubmit pang novel.At meron po ako ngayon na gusto ko ho matutunan kung paano ang kaibahan sa sa scriptwriting .Sana po malaman ko ang seminar schedule.

  29. hello po, libre pa po ba yung workshop ni sir ricky lee?

  30. irene fabella Says:

    gusto ko po sana humingi ng tulong ano po ang dapat kong gawin my ngawa akong kuwento talaga po magugustuhan ninyo.

  31. tulungan nyo po ako my ngawa po akong kuwento. isang kuwento na puwede isapelikula. isang lovestory po. kakapulutan po ng aral. tulungan nyo po ako kung ano ang dapat kung gawin. minsan ko na po ipinadala sa abs-cbn. wala pang kasagutan.iniisip ko po baka po hindi po nataggap. tototng maganda ang kuwento ko puwede po isapelikula. nabasa na po ng pamangkin ko sabi nya maganda po. nabasa rin po ng kaklase maganda po daw. sana matulungan nyo po ako.

  32. sir gudday po tulungan nyo po ako my ngawa po akong kuwento pwede nyo po isapelikula maganda po ang kuwento ko

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