Ricky Lee recounts how writing saved him during pandemic

Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 26 2020 12:09 PM | Updated as of Nov 27 2020 12:10 PM

MANILA - Veteran writer Ricky Lee wanted to write his memoirs during the pandemic but he ended up doing just the ‘prologue’ of his colorful life. 

That prologue, which encapsulates the highs and lows, as well as the wealth and poverty of being a writer, is now a book billed as “Kulang na Silya at Iba Pang Kuwentong Buhay.”

“P200lang. May kasama pang dedication at autograph. At kapag bumili ka ng 10 ay may libreng isang kopya,” quipped Lee about his 15th book. “Ang dami nang nag-advanced order, around a thousand, so hopefully that will pay for the printing of the book.”

The book title recalls Lee’s hungry years and his dream to succeed in Manila. 

“Nang lumayas ako noon sa Bicol around 1967, kasama ang apat ko pang classmates at tumira kami dito sa Maynila, trying to survive, aapat lang ang silya sa maliit naming tirahan kaya kapag kumakain kaming lima, laging may isang nakatayo,” he told ABS-CBN News Thursday. “I promised myself then, balang araw makokompleto ang silya.” 

Lee has included eight essays in the book, which highlight not only his struggles but also funny anecdotes about his storied career. 

“Nandiyan 'yung napagkamalan ako ni Madam Auring as Ricky Lo,” he laughed. “Recollection ng masasaya at malungkot na karanasan pati na nung naging Martial Law detainee ako.” 

The best part is how the book saved him during the isolation of the pandemic. 

“The spirit of writing saved me at this time. Kasi nagpa-panic attacks ako, hindi ako sanay na hindi gumagala. Ginawa ko, sumulat ako ng sumulat. Na-empower ako!” 

Lee has also included an essay in the book entitled “Sulat Para sa Gustong Sumulat” to encourage fellow writers to keep on practicing their craft. 

One excerpt from the essay about writers’ struggle for perfection goes: “When the doubts and insecurities come, accept that they will always be part of what you do. Never silang mawawala. Lagi kang nasa gitna ng tama ba o hindi, maganda na ba o hindi pa?” 

The book can be ordered here

On the mainstream side, Lee is glad that his screenplay “Tagpuan” directed by Mac Alejandre is finally showing at the Metro Manila Film Festival 2020. 

“It’s a story of being loved and unloved in different world locations,” said Lee of the movie starring Iza Calzado, Alfred Vargas and Shaina Magdayao. 

Lee is also awaiting the showing of Lav Diaz’s “Servando Magdamag” starring John Lloyd Cruz based on his 1970 short story about agrarian issues in southern Philippines. 

Lee’s book is due for release on December 3. 

The “kulang ang silya” analogy is not lost in his advocacy for fellow writers, particularly the seniors and many writers displaced by the current situation. Proceeds of the book sale will go to writers’ welfare and holding of free writing workshops. 

Lee said: “Kailangan magkaisa at kumilos mga writers kasi kadalasan mahiyain sila at nasa tabi lang. Tulungan lang.”