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Pop fiction author writes new page

David John Cubangbang




What? Marcelo Santos III is taking a break from writing?

Known for his hugot lines and heart-breaking reality talks, the young Filipino author first claimed the spotlight by writing stories that have really touched the hearts of the youth today. His most popular works include Para sa Broken Hearted and Para sa Hopeless Romantic, which have been made into films.

He tells the Daily Tribune in an exclusive interview that his most popular work thus far reflects his own personality the most. “Yung Para sa Broken Hearted kasi lahat ng characters sa book ay may bahagi ng pagkatao ko and yung libro na yun ang kauna-unahang librong nag-number one sa bestsellers list (All characters in that book bear a part of my personality and that book was the first one to make it to the top of the bestsellers list),” he said.

The author revealed that he was inspired by local and foreign book writers whose works were pop fiction hits as well. “Fan na talaga ako ng mga foreign and local books noong high school ako hanggang sa nadala ko ng college. Bob Ong and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight Saga), sila yung naging inspirasyon ko sa pagsusulat (I’m really a fan of foreign and local books when I was in high school until college. I was inspired by Bob Ong and Stephenie Meyer when I was writing my books).”

When the movie For the Broken Hearted, based on his book, topped Netflix on its first week of release, Santos was over the moon. “Sobrang happy ako sa kinalabasan ng movie adaptation ng pangalawa kong nobela. Actually, yung nasa pelikula, ganon na ganon yung pagka-imagine ko sa character habang sinusulat. Sobrang sumaya ako noong na-release siya sa Netflix kasi parang mas maraming naka-appreciate sa pelikula. Siya lang yung Pinoy movie na nakapasok sa Top 10 ng Netflix (I was so happy with the movie adaptation of my second novel. The film showed exactly what I had in mind about the characters when I was writing them. I was so happy when it was released on Netflix because more people were able to appreciate the film. It was the first Filipino movie that made it to the Top 10 on Netflix).”

Here’s more from Marcelo, translated from Taglish:

Daily Tribune: What has kept you busy during this lockdown?

MS: For now, I am still focused on planning my YouTube channel in terms of content and changes that need to be made. I also watch TV series on Netflix and documentaries on YouTube. I also enrolled in online classes so that, somehow, my time would not have been wasted.

DT: Did you have postponed or canceled projects or were you working on anything when the ECQ was imposed?

Marcelo Santos III (MSIII): Right now, none. Most of my projects are online so the work has continued. During ECQ (enhanced community quarantine), I used the time to make plans for my YouTube channel. I have decided to take a break from writing and get into vlogging.

DT: Has the book industry suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic?

MSIII: I can’t really say because somehow my books are available online through my publisher’s website. But I feel that consumption of paid books has lowered because people want free content that they can find on the Internet.

I think a transition from physical books into e-books may start soon.

DT: Any plans of making a book that is related to ECQ? If ever, what would the concept focus on?

MSIII: Actually, I have had lots of ideas and concepts during this lockdown. I write more about love stories so I am thinking of a story on what could possibly develop or be lost as an effect of the lockdown on two people who love each other.

DT: What are your thoughts on the fast growth of digital book platforms and how do they affect or help the traditional book industry?

MSIII: Actually, my publisher asked if it is okay to make an e-book version of my book and I did not agree because I think it’s different when you read an actual physical book – there is no need for a phone to read or an ebook reader. Also, physical books have a wider reach because not everyone in the Philippines own a cellphone or ebook reader. A physical book also favors us, writers, because it is not prone to piracy.

DT: If not a writer, what would Marcelo be? How did you become a book author?

I am really a graphic artist (Graduate of Advertising at PUP). I started publishing books in 2012 but in 2009, I was already writing online. In three years, I was able to build a community of readers so I decided to come up with a book for publication. I did it first on my own then VIVA Films noticed my work and offered me a publishing contract.

DT: What is your message to our kababayans during this time?

MSIII: Kailangan nating maging mas matatag. May iisang kalaban tayong nilalabanan sa panahon na ito kaya mas mabuting magtulungan tayo. Panahon ngayon ng pagkakaisa. Marami na tayong pinagdaanan. Marami na rin tayong nalampasan. At alam ko, matatapos din ito. Magtatagumpay ulit tayo (We have to be strong. We have to be brave. We have one enemy in these times so we need to help each other. It is a time for unity. We have gone through so much before, and we have overcome them. I know someday this will end. We will triumph once more).

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