Stephanie Dychiu GMANews.TV - The Revenge of Carlo J. Caparas

By Stephanie Dychiu

Carlo J. Caparas wears sunglasses at night.

It is eight o’clock in the evening, and the Komiks King is holding court inside a house in Ayala Alabang. A Mercedes ML 350 with “CJC" license plates stands guard outside. Behind the murky lenses that never leave his eyes, the man of the hour is basking before a TV crew with son Carlo Jr. and daughter Isabel Peach. Wife Donna flits about with pooches Bruno and Duchess. In the last five hours alone, two media groups have swooped into the house to interview Malacañang’s Chosen One for National Artist-Visual Arts and Film.

All manner of insult has been hurled Caparas’s way since he, along with NCCA Executive Director Cecile Guidote-Alvarez and two others, were named National Artists by President Gloria Arroyo without going through the selection process of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

(Caparas and Alvarez have an association that precedes this controversy. The two worked together on the Komiks Karavan in 2007 to revive the komiks industry. Alvarez’s husband, former senator Heherson Alvarez, proclaimed Caparas a “plebeian philosopher" when the Massacre King received the Gusi Peace Prize in 2006. Former Senator Alvarez himself received the award in 2007. The award, named after a World War II guerilla and human rights advocate, is given by the Gusi Foundation, whose president is Manoling Morato, no stranger himself to controversy and one of Caparas’s most vocal defenders in the National Artist fracas. The Morato family crest hangs by the door of the Caparas house.)

Amid the brickbats, Caparas has maintained a childlike “finders, keepers" certitude, which keeps him in high spirits. He bids the TV crew goodbye, then plops onto a couch for his next audience.

“Drawing ang nagligtas ng buhay ko"

Since he made the leap from komiks novelist to film director in the early 1980s, Caparas has not been seen in public without his sunglasses, no matter what time of day. “Parang brand yan," he says. “Kumbaga sa San Miguel, ‘pag nilagay mo yung beer sa puting baso, wala na. Baka ako, ‘pag wala na itong image ko, baka isang driver o kanto boy na lang ang kamukha ko."

(“It’s like being a brand. When you pour San Miguel beer into a white mug, you don’t recognize it anymore as San Miguel. Without my image, I might just look like a driver or a street thug.")

That wouldn’t do for the self-made Caparas, who dropped out in first year high school but managed to claw his way to komiks, movie, and TV fame (some would say infamy). The fear of being shamed has clung to him like an allergy since age eight or nine, when he says he developed an inferiority complex after his father was sent to jail for a crime he did not commit.

The story is straight out of one of his komiks novels: “May Aglipayan na pari. Meron siyang kerida na niregaluhan niya ng alahas. Inutang niya sa father ko, palihim lang, kasi pari. Naghiwalay sila ng kerida niya. Itinakas ng babae ang alahas. Dine-deny ng pari na bumili siya sa father ko. So, father ko ang nanagot. Nabasa ko sa diary niya yung pagka-api niya. Kaya ang hatred [nabuo] sa sarili ko."

(“There was an Aglipayan priest who had a mistress. He gifted her with jewelry that he bought from my father on a loan. It was a secret, because he was a priest. The priest and his mistress split up. The woman ran away with the jewelry. The priest denied he bought jewelry from my father. My father had to answer for it. I read about the injustice done to him in his diary. That’s how hatred took hold of me.")

Hunger was his other source of mortification. “Six or seven years old, foraging for food na ako. Nagigising ako sa umaga, mahina ang tuhod ko sa gutom." (“I would wake up in the morning weak from hunger.") To distract himself, Caparas began to draw. The vengeance he could not exact in real life, he concocted on pen and paper. He took pleasure in mutilating the faces of those who taunted him, and sketched alternate realities for himself.

He says he owes everything in his life to drawing, which is why the slur that has wounded him the most since the National Artist ruckus erupted is the accusation that he does not know how to draw. “Mula sa galit, hanggang sa kahirapan, drawing ang nagligtas ng buhay ko. Tapos biglang sasabihin nila hindi ako marunong?" (“From anger to poverty, it was drawing that saved my life. And now they say I do not know how to draw?")

“Mahirap, inapi, umasenso, gumanti"

As a teenager, Caparas was an avid komiks reader, and he liked to copy their style of illustration. At 19, he became a security guard at the Carmelo and Bauerman publishing house. He was assigned to the night shift, and from there came what he calls his “1,000 nights of reading". For three years, he did nothing but read the books coming out of the printing press. He also kept drawing to pass the time. Someone saw the notebook where he had written and illustrated a complete komiks story called Ako’y Nagmamahal Sayo. The notebook was brought to komiks writer and publisher Pablo Gomez, and became Caparas’s first published work.

The story of Ako’y Nagmamahal Sayo was inspired by the book Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham, one of Caparas’s favorite writers. “Tungkol siya sa pagmamahal ng isang lalaki sa babae. Maski ano ang gawin ng babae, umaalis, nawawala, pagbalik, tinatanggap pa rin niya." (“It is about the love of a man for a woman. No matter what the woman does—she leaves, disappears, returns—he still takes her back.") Forgiveness was fascinating to Caparas because it was something he could not do in real life. “Nagagawa ko lang magpatawad sa mga karakter ng istorya ko." (“I could only forgive through the characters in my story.")

Another big komiks publisher, Don Ramon Roces, gave him his next big break. The old man asked him to come up with four komiks novels: one action, one comedy, one adventure, and something for women. Caparas gave him Totoy Bato (action), Andres de Saya (comedy), Ang Panday (adventure), and Bakekang (something for women), three of the four now household names on television.

As demand for his work grew, Caparas gave up illustrating to concentrate on writing because it was more lucrative. “Ang isang isyu [ng komiks], three days mong ido-drawing. Pero twenty-two issues, kaya kong sulatin in one sitting. Nabibili pa sa pelikula. So ang disparity ng income napakalaki." (“One issue takes three days to draw. But I could write twenty-two issues in one sitting. The stories I write are also acquired for the movies. So the disparity in income is very large.")

Fear of poverty kept him productive. “Yung ibang artist, nakakasulat through inspiration. Ako, ang motivation ko reason. Dinadamihan ko ang ginagawa ko para kumita. Kabado ako na baka mabawasan ang nobela ko, baka lumaos ako. Baka mabalik ako sa hirap." (“Other artists write through inspiration. My motivation was reason. I wrote a lot to earn a lot. I was worried they might cut down the number of novels that I was writing, or I might become a has-been. Or slip back into poverty.")

So he gave his readers exactly what they wanted. For Caparas, fantasy and escapism are what people want, and he stuck to standard formulas such as “mahirap, inapi, umasenso, nakaganti" and “pangit, tapos gumanda sa bandang huli". He made sure ganti, or revenge, was always part of the story, because he knew from experience that was what people needed to see. “Yun ang formula ni Fernando Poe, e. Gugulpihin muna siya sa una, tapos gaganti siya sa huli." (“That was the formula of Fernando Poe. First he gets beat up, then he fights back.")

Aside from revenge, people also love being scared, he says. Of all the komiks novels he has written, the one that sold the most was Matatalim na Pangil sa Gubat, about an unknown monster that was killing people and animals in a village. He teased and tantalized his readers with the mysterious menace, until they could no longer take it and he decided to reveal that the monster was in fact a giant crocodile. “Gusto ng tao, binibitin sila. Gusto nila, merong pangyayari na susundan nila." (“People want to be kept in suspense. They want to have something happen, then follow what happens next.")

Caparas says trying to keep the audience of a serialized story loyal and satisfied is harder than creating work that comes out only once. “Kasi nag-e-entertain ka ng mga tao, e. Unlike sa mga literature na gumagawa ng book, nasa kanila lahat ang time. Nasa kanila lahat ng chance para pagandahin, kasi walang pressure, e. Dahil hindi sila nag-e-entertain ng tao, more of educational matters ang ginagawa nila." (“Because you are entertaining people. Unlike those who write literature or books. They have the luxury of time. They have all the chances to make it nice, because there is no pressure. Because they are not entertaining people. What they are doing has more to do with educational matters.")

“Hindi ko tinalikuran si FPJ"

Of all the characters he created, Caparas considers Panday the most legendary because it was picked up by the late Fernando Poe, Jr. “Bawat komiks novelist, ang wildest dream noong araw, maipelikula ni Fernando Poe ang nobela nila. So, gumawa ako ng tailor-made sa kanya, yung Panday. Na-attract kaagad si FPJ, pati si Susan (Roces, wife of FPJ). Kasi ang image ng Panday, champion of the oppressed, katulad ng image ni FPJ."

(“The wildest dream of every comics novelist in those days was to have Fernando Poe make a movie out of their novel. So I made a story tailor-made for him. That was Panday. He was attracted to it right away, including Susan, because the image of Panday is ‘champion of the oppressed’, just like the image of FPJ.")

Had someone else played the role in the movie, Caparas doesn’t think Panday would have become the legend that it is today. “Si FPJ ang legend kasi, e. Kaya automatically, nung kunin niya yung Panday, naging legendary na rin yung creation ko." (“FPJ was the one who was a legend. That’s why, automatically, when he got Panday, my creation also became legendary.")

So legendary that it has sparked its own narrative in the National Artist controversy. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is rumored to have given Caparas the National Artist award in exchange for him giving her the rights to Ang Panday in 2004, so FPJ could not use the popular character in his campaign against Arroyo in the presidential elections.

Caparas snorts at the notion. “Paano nila masasabi yun? E, hanggang ngayon nga ang Panday ginagawa ni Senator Bong Revilla, e. At ang Panday Kids ko, nasa GMA7." (“How can they say that? Up to now Panday is being done by Senator Bong Revilla. And Panday Kids is with GMA7.") So who owns the rights to Panday? “Yung intellectual rights, akin yan. Walang may-ari niyan. Ang nabibili lang nila sa akin, halimbawa, yung rights to film, yung rights to [TV]." (“I own the intellectual rights. No one owns that. What they buy from me are rights to film, rights to TV.")

He says his friendship with FPJ endured even when he threw his support behind President Arroyo in the 2004 elections. “Nung palapit na ang eleksyon, [nagkita kami] sa kasal ni Ruffa Gutierrez (to Yilmaz Bektas, March 2003). Tinanong ko si FPJ, ‘Tatakbo ka ba?’ Sabi niya, ‘Kahit meyor, wala akong balak.’ Nagtawanan kami."

(“When the elections were nearing, we saw each other at the wedding of Ruffa Gutierrez. I asked FPJ, ‘Are you running?’ He said, ‘Even for mayor, I have no intention.’ We laughed.")

Later on, when FPJ announced his candidacy, Caparas says he was caught by surprise, but he had to make a choice. “Sa isang istorya, ang kailangan bida. Hero. Sa eleksyon, hindi bida ang kailangan. Lider. Hindi ko tinalikuran si FPJ bilang bida ng mga creation ko. Pero ang kailangan natin nung time na yun, lider." (“In a story, what you need is a protagonist. A hero. In an election, you don’t need a protagonist. What you need is a leader. I did not turn my back on FPJ as the hero of my creations. But what we needed at that time was a leader.")

After the elections, Caparas says he and FPJ remained on good terms, and would even joke about Caparas’s wife Donna (a staunch Arroyo supporter) being the reason why they landed on opposite sides of the political fence. “Sabi niya, ‘Si Swannie (wife Susan Roces) nanununtok, e. Si Donna, namumugot, ‘no?’ Tapos, tawanan kami." (“He said, ‘Swannie throws punches. Donna cuts off heads, right? Then we laughed.") He says they even discussed a new movie project called Anino ng Kampeon, in which FPJ would be the main star and Caparas’s wife Donna would handle production.

It didn’t happen. FPJ suffered a stroke and died in December 2004.

“Original yung Joaquin Bordado bago Elektra"

Panday may have been written specifically with the King of Philippine movies in mind, but Caparas cobbled most of his other characters from ordinary people he saw around him.

“Yung Pieta, ginawa ko yun nung marinig ko na yung classmate ko biglang sinuntok ang ina niyang naglalaba. Sabi ng mother ko, yung bata gumaganti sa ina. Kasi maliit pa, inilalaglag na niya. Yung Bakekang, [base yun sa isang] maid sa lugar namin na gustong-gusto magka-anak na maganda. Sobrang lupit na nung amo niya, hindi siya umaalis. Gusto niya may mangyari sa kanila, para magka-anak siya ng maganda."

(“I did Pieta after I heard that a classmate of mine hit his mother while she was washing clothes. My mother said he was getting back at her, because when he was still a baby, she tried to get rid of him. Bakekang is based on a maid in our place who really, really wanted to have a good-looking child. Her employer was already very cruel to her, but she would not leave. She wanted something to happen between the two of them, so she could have a good-looking child.")

The shocking gang rape of the actress Maggie de la Riva gave him the idea for Angela Markado. “Dinagdagan ko lang, [kasi] komiks. Ang ginawa ko, yung mga rapist, itinattoo nila ang pangalan nila sa likod ng babae, na hindi na mabubura. So yung babae, tuwing titignan niya sa salamin ang likod niya, nakikita niya ang mga perpetrator. Yung mga pangalan na yun, isa-isa, ginagantihan niya hanggang mapatay niya lahat."

(“I just added to it, because this was for comics. I made the rapists tattoo their names on the woman’s back. Everytime she saw her back in the mirror, she could see the perpetrators’ names. One by one, she killed them, until they were all dead.")

Angela Markado was translated to film by the late director Lino Brocka and screenwriter Jose Lacaba. In 1983, it won Best Film at the Festival of Three Continents (Asia, Africa, Latin America) in Nantes, France. Caparas counts this as one of his proudest achievements, notwithstanding talk that Angela Markado bears suspicious similarities to the 1967 French film The Bride Wore Black by Francois Truffaut. Quentin Tarantino was also accused of knocking off The Bride Wore Black in 2003’s Kill Bill, where The Bride (Uma Thurman) avenges herself by butchering her would-be murderers one by one from a list.

Copycats are a ticklish issue for Caparas. He compares his Joaquin Bordado starring Ramon Revilla to the movie Elektra starring Jennifer Garner. “Yung Joaquin Bordado, [nagsimula yan dahil] nakikita ko, bawat lumaya sa Muntinlupa, including my father, may tattoo. May ahas, may scorpion, may eagle. Siempre, wild ang imagination ng writer. Sabi ko, kung may agimat siguro, kayang buhayin ang mga tattoo sa katawan. Ang nakakalungkot nito, pagkatapos kong gawin yung Joaquin Bordado nung 1988, nitong [2005], nakita ko may Elektra, na buhay yung mga tattoo."

(“I thought of Joaquin Bordado when I saw how everyone who got out of Muntinlupa, including my father, had a tattoo. Snake, scorpion, eagle. Of course, a writer has a wild imagination. I said, if there was a magic charm, it would be possible to bring the tattoos to life. The sad thing is, after I did Joaquin Bordado in 1988, in 2005, I saw Elektra, where they also had tattoos coming to life.")

Caparas is referring to one of the villains in the film, Tattoo, who could bring to life the animals painted on his skin. “Nung alamin ko," he continues, “may Pinoy dun sa creative na taga-komiks." (‘I found out there was a Filipino in the creative team, who came from the local comics scene.") Could this simply be a coincidence? No, he insists, because he personally knows the guy. “Idol ako ng magulang niya. Ayokong mapahiya siya. Ayokong masira ang hanap-buhay niya. Gusto ko lang sabihin na original yung Joaquin Bordado bago Elektra." (“I’m the idol of his parents. I don’t want him to be humiliated. I don’t want to ruin his livelihood. I just want to say that Joaquin Bordado was first before Elektra.")

Joaquin Bordado, Pieta, and Bakekang have all been turned into major teleseryes in the last few years, along with Caparas’s other works Totoy Bato, Ang Panday, Gagambino, Kamandag, and Ang Babaeng Hinugot sa Aking Tadyang. Angela Markado’s TV adaptation is also in the works. Say what you will about Caparas, but the man knows something about self-promotion and the popular pulse.

My wife Donna Villa gave my films their long titles

Caparas’s film career started by accident, when he came home one day and found the director Artemio Marquez in his house. Marquez was having money problems, and wanted to come out with a movie to make a fast buck. He asked Caparas if he could use the story of Mong, one of his komiks characters. (Mong, in Caparas's imagination, was a simple-minded but extremely tall boy who became the first Filipino to join the NBA.) To attract Caparas’s komiks readers, Marquez asked him to share the billing as co-director, even though Caparas knew nothing about directing.

“Sa unang pelikula ko, never ako nakapunta ng shooting," says Caparas. “Never akong sumigaw ng Action! o Cut! Nag-hit ngayon yung pelikula. Sabi ni Temyong Marquez, ‘Alam mo, Carlo, binibili ng tao yang pangalan mo, pinapasok talaga. Mag-direk ka na lang.’"

(“With my first movie, I never went to the shooting. I never shouted Action! or Cut! Then the movie became a hit. Temyong Marquez said, ‘You know, Carlo, people pay for your name. You should become a movie director.")

Caparas hesitated briefly, then asked Marquez to assign him an assistant director. He took the assistant director, Angel Labra, to the New Frontier theater in Cubao. As the movie played, he asked Labra to explain how every scene was shot, and what lenses were used. By the third movie, Caparas decided he was ready. The first film he made was Kung Tawagin Siya’y Bathala in 1980. “Doon, sumigaw na ako ng Action!" (“On that one, I shouted Action!") He also met Donna Villa, one of the lead stars of the film. She became his wife.

Caparas says his background in komiks gave him an edge as a filmmaker, and not just because his name already had a following. Comic book panels, after all, are like the storyboards filmmakers use to outline how they want scenes to be shot. “Alam ko na kung ano ang mga magandang angle, ang [visual] storytelling. Ang komiks ko kasi cinematographic, e. Maski konting salita lang, aandar na ang istorya." (“I already knew what the good angles were. I knew about visual storytelling. My comics are cinematographic. Even with just a few words, the story moves along.")

Of all the films he has made, Caparas says the ones he is proudest of are Pieta, Kahit Ako’y Lupa, Bubbles, and Zamboanga Massacre: Arrest Patrol Man Rizal Alih. He likes each one for different reasons. Pieta won several awards from the Film Academy of the Philippines in 1983, including Best Director for him. Kahit Ako’y Lupa is his most autobiographical work. Bubbles won him the 1988 Best Screenplay award (along with Tony Mortel) from the Film Academy of the Philippines, for its depiction of the notorious Ativan Gang (a gang that drugs its victims using the Ativan sedative before robbing them).

Zamboanga Massacre was one big testosterone rush. “Hino-hostage pa lang si General Batalla, nagsu-shooting na ako, kasi gusto ko fresh talaga." (“General Batalla was still being hostaged, I was already shooting because I wanted the footage to be really fresh.")

(Rizal Alih was a rogue cop who fought with his superior Brig. Gen. Eduardo Batalla in January 1989, then held him and several others hostage in Camp Cawa-Cawa, Zamboanga City. By the time the hostage-taking ended, 19 people were dead, including Batalla.)

One of Caparas’s all-time favorite directors is Sam Peckinpah, the man who set new standards for onscreen violence in Hollywood with the 1969 flick The Wild Bunch. The knock-off it inspired, The Hunting Party, is one of Caparas’s favorite movies. It is riddled with the slow-motion action sequences, spurting blood, and general hysteria that accompany many of his own films. When Caparas revealed recently that he was in talks to do a movie on the People Power phenomenon (“EDSA, The Untold Story",), testy Tweets sniped that the bloodless revolution might turn blood-soaked instead.

Which brings up the essential question—are there films he made that he would rather forget? Caparas admits there are quite a few, such as “yung mga ginawa kong commercial films para kay Donna (his wife is the boss of Golden Lions, their production outfit), sa gusto niyang may ma-i-book kaagad na pelikula." (“The commercial films I made for Donna, in her haste to book movies right away.") He smiles indulgently, as he always does when he talks about his wife. “Naging box office hit din naman, so hindi ko masisisi." (“They turned out to be box office hits, so I don’t blame her.") He stops short of naming what those forgettable films are. “Kasi baka sabihin ng mga artista kumita ka naman, bakit mo . . . merong compromise talaga." (“The actors might say the films earned money, so why . . . there really is a compromise.")

The dizzying, drawn-out movie titles, he says, are also his wife’s idea. Some of the longest are: The Untold Story: Vizconde Massacre 2 (God Have Mercy on Us), The Annabelle Huggins Story – Ruben Ablaza Tragedy (Mea Culpa), and The Cecilia Masagca Story: Antipolo Massacre (Jesus Save Us!). “Si Donna ang nagbibigay ng mga sub-titles. Kasi mula nang gawin namin yun, nakakapag-set kami ng box office record." (“Donna is the one who gives the sub-titles. Ever since we did that, we were able to set box office records.")

As for the obligatory entreaties (Lord, Have Mercy!, Jesus, Pray for Us!, God . . . Why Me?), there is an actual explanation: “Dinagdag ni Donna yun ‘pag victims ang ginawa namin, para daw kakampi ang Diyos sa title pa lang. Parang nabe-bendisyunan itong trabaho. Okey lang sa akin na may sub-title. Tutal, nare-retain din naman yung title ko." (“Donna added those whenever the film was about victims, so that God would be on our side based on the title alone. It is like the work is being blessed. I’m okay with the sub-titles, since the main titles I give are retained anyway.") In Caparas’s world, this makes perfect sense.

“Nakuha ko na ang ultimate achievement ko"

Just like fighting for the National Artist award makes perfect sense. In Caparas’s world, the award stands for something bigger than nomination procedures and selection committees. He seems to see it in the context not just of his body of work, but his entire life. A life where he actually had to live through the battles that Panday, Totoy Bato, and Joaquin Bordado fought only in his imagination. He survived resoundingly, tucked away now in a posh suburban neighborhood with a vivacious wife and children who adore him. For this, the unseen eyes behind the sunglasses seem to ask, does he not deserve whatever reward the universe sends his way?

“Kaya lang ako minsan nagiging harsh sa mga salita ko, kasi masyadong harsh ang pakitungo nila sa akin," he says of his critics. “Nakita naman nila na napakaraming dekada na pinaghirapan ko, ninu-nurture ko ang kakayahan ko, lahat ng magagawa ko ibinubuhos ko, ang ibinuhay ko sa pamilya ko, galing diyan sa sa mga trabaho kong yan."

(“The only reason why I have been harsh with my words is because they have also treated me harshly. They have seen me work hard for many decades, nurturing my capability, pouring everything I have into what I do. It was because of all those works I have done that I was able to support my family.")

Whatever shortcuts he may have had to take seem overshadowed in Caparas’s mind by his fundamental belief that in life there are two kinds of survivors—the ones who wait for manna to drop from heaven, and the ones who take matters into their own hands. Definitely, he is the latter.

If the tables were turned and he was in the position of composer Ramon Santos, who was removed by Malacañang from the list of National Artists submitted by the official nominations committee, Caparas says he would accept his fate. “Kasi recommended pa lang, e. Hindi pa proclaimed. Pero kung proclaimed ka na, at tsaka ka aalisin, ibang usapan na yun. Hindi ka na papayag." (“Because then I would have only been recommended, not yet proclaimed. But once you have been proclaimed, and then you are removed, that’s a different story. You can’t just accept that.")

And what if the petition to block his proclamation is granted by the Supreme Court, bringing his tangled reign as National Artist to a sudden end? “Mahirap i-preempt ang judicial [process]. Hindi puwedeng magbibigay ako ng opinyon, in fairness to the Supreme Court, in fairness to the petitioners." (“I can’t give an opinion, in fairness to the Supreme Court, in fairness to the petitioners.") Then, “Wala sanang hindi nadadaan sa usapan. Nangyari lang, nagpunta sila kaagad sa kalsada." (“There’s nothing we could not have settled by talking. The thing was, they went to the streets right away.")

Whatever the outcome, Caparas says he has already chosen to take the higher ground. He lays the worst and best parts of his life side by side to prove his point. “Nung security guard ako, nabaril ang paa ko. Six months ako hindi makalakad. Wala akong pambili ng dextrose, dugo, at gamot. Nasa hallway lang ako ng PGH (Philippine General Hospital), plywood lang ang higaan ko. Masakit na masakit yun. Nangako ako na kung magkaroon lang ako ng chance magka-pera, never ko na matikman ulit yon. Pati mga kasama ko sa buhay, never makarating ulit sa hirap na pinanggalingan ko. Kasi hindi nila kakayanin. Ngayon, ang ultimate achievement ko sa buhay, nakuha ko na—itong family ko. Si Donna tsaka ang mga bata. ‘Yan ang achievement na totoo."

(“When I was a security guard, I was shot on the foot. I couldn’t walk for six months. I didn’t have money to buy dextrose, blood, and medicine. I was on the hallway of the Philippine General Hospital. Plyood was the only thing I had to lie on. That was very, very painful. I promised myself that if ever I had the chance to have money, I would never go through that again. Even the people in my life will never go through the wretchedness I came from. Because they won’t be able to bear it. Now, I already have my ultimate achievement in life—my family. Donna and the kids. That is what true achievement is.")

If success is the best revenge, Caparas appears to have already won his.

(This story was originally published on GMANews.TV on August 26, 2009.

Image credits:
Photos of Carlo J. Caparas: Joe Galvez
Caparas family photos: Caparas family
Komiks covers from: Komiklopedia
Sunday Times screenshot from: Executed Today
"Tattoo" photo: Ace Showbiz
Layout design: Jayme Brucal-Gatbonton