behn cervantes

i never met him, i mean, we were never introduced, not even in the 80s when i was “running around town” (more like flitting around) with mitch valdes and i had really close encounters with showbiz peeps.  but i did have a rather unforgettable brush with him that he may not even have  been aware of, haha.

it happened in some studio set where peque gallaga was directing the pilot of a satiric sitcom that would have starred, if memory serves, mitch,  behn, and elvira manahan (this was at the height of her talk show, two for the road), and joey reyes was writing the script.  i was there because the sitcom was not the entire show.  half would be a talk show of sorts on current issues, and i was writing that.  and it was a good idea to be around because peque might have something to tell me bigla about writing my half — it was quite a radical format, i wasn’t sure, i didn’t see yet how, it would work (and never found out because the producer backed out).

so anyway.  i was behind the cameramen of course, along with other crew, staff, mirons.   there were no seats, standing room only.  except for one lounge chair, yung you’re half-reclining na, that was empty; i gathered that it was for the director, and while he was busy, one or another would take it briefly, pahinga ng paa, but it was mostly unoccupied, until one of the guys offered it to me (i must have been ready to sit on the floor or something).  so i took it.

not long after, ms. manahan and behn arrived.  they had to wait, though, stand around, until direk was ready for them, and siyempre, medyo imbiyerna ang mga lola na there were no seats around.  they had noted the one lounge chair, of course, and little me in it, on it, and i swear, when i stole a look at them, behn caught my eye, looked down his nose at me, and made irap, lol.  not that it was a laughing matter at the time.  i could have vacated the seat at once, left it free for them to take it over, if behn hadn’t been so isnooty.  had he given me even just the faintest smallest smile, i’d have smiled back, sabay get up and offer ms. manahan the seat myself.  instead, i sat on, went back to whispering nonsense with one of the guys for another minute or so, and got up in my own good time.

and then, again, i may have imagined it all.  right now, hearing that behn is in asian hospital with a septic infection, no visitors allowed, it doesn’t matter.  what matters is that he has a heart for nation, and he was one of the true machos, along with lino brocka, in the war against marcos all the way to EDSA.  stories of behn cervantes are writ large in the pages of martial law history, and i salute him.

Awards and Behn Cervantes
By Pablo A. Tariman

ONE wonders how actor-director Behn Cervantes feels about the sudden deluge of recognition coming his way.

Read on


  1. sad day. behn has passed away. he is also in my edsa uno book. he was writing a column for Business Day during those days, and wrote about the “little war zone” around channel 4 on edsa monday and tuesday, and the circus inside the liberated tv station, where some johnny was trying to censor his org’s official statement. i was hoping to get a copy to him. alas, di na umabot.