December 1 ------ At actor and senator Lito Lapid's Thanksgiving party with showbiz media this week, Philippine Cinema's iconic Leon Guerrero revealed he almost made a movie with global martial arts superstar Jackie Chan at the peak of his acting career.
The exciting prospect unfolded decades ago when veteran movie producer Jessie Chua, who incidentally joined Lapid at the luncheon, took him to Hong Kong to train with the same stunt instructor who taught Hollywood's favorite comedic martial artist. Over the years, producers, directors and fans of Lapid would marvel at his distinct stunts and moves, and apparently, the Jackie Chan connection is the reason behind it all. "I owe it all to Jesse, who sent me to Hong Kong to train for action stunts before he gave me my first starring role," the ever-fit and agile 68-year-old actor and lawmaker acknowledged. "And he made sure I trained under Jackie Chan's fight instructor, which is why he and I move the same." Rounding up the story about the movie that almost was, Lapid continued, "We were able to work out doing a movie with Jackie Chan. He was still shooting 'Drunken Master' though, so we were scheduled for his next project."
Apparently, all the details had been ironed out, including a set talent fee for Chan. "It was just the dates we were working on, but after 'Drunken Master' became a box office hit around the world and Jessie got back to them, they raised his talent fee so high we couldn't afford to get Jackie Chan anymore." Until now, Lapid admits he still feels a tinge of regret the whole project fell through. "It's a shame it didn't happen because it would have worked were because we're even the same age. We met at a restaurant, and it was really a memorable time." But of course, at the end of the day, the veteran actor can't complain about how his own career turned out. The name Lito Lapid is forever etched as one of Philippine entertainment's action greats, just like Fernando Poe Jr., Ramon Revilla Sr. and Joseph Estrada.
What's more, the last couple of years have seen a resurgence in Lapid's acting career, earning him a whole new generation of fans through his compelling roles in Coco Martin's record-breaking "FPJ's Ang Probinsyano" series and now, in the top-rated "Batang Quiapo," both on ABS-CBN. "There's so much to be thankful for," the actor-senator enthused. And as Lapid nears the end of his term in the Senate, Leon Guerrero is looking forward to doing more for the camera. "Of course, my priority has always been the Senate all this time, but we'll see next year. I have no plans to run again, so I should have more time for showbiz."