The country’s leading author of screenplays that were destined to become movie hits, an indefatigable teacher of scriptwriting, and a bestselling novelist using popular Filipino language, was honored on Balagtas Day, the 230th birth anniversary, in Oryon, Bataan, and the start of the National Literature month.
Ricardo “Ricky” Lee received the Gawad Dangal ni Balagtas, the highest recognition for a writer, from the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) for lifetime achievement. He joins a prestigious roster of Dangal ni Balagtas awardees that includes Lamberto Antonio (2013), Teodoro "Teo" Antonio (2014), Rogelio Mangahas (2015), Jose "Pete" Lacaba (2016), Ruth Elynia Mabanglo (2017), at Lualhati Bautista (2017).
KWF Chairman and National Artist for Literature Virgilio S. Almario, and Mayor Antonio Raymundo Jr. of Orion, Bataan handed out the Balagtas Trophy and a cash gift of P_______ to the honoree.
Ricky Lee has been a much awarded author of screenplays for such blockbusters as well as critical successes as Salome, Moral, Brutal, Karnal, Jaguar, Muro Ami, Patayin sa Sindak si Barbara, Jose Rizal, Flor Contemplacion, Himala, and many others out of some 150 screenplays written since 1973. He has worked with two National Artists for Film, Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal, and the Marilou Diaz-Abaya.
He has also written screenplays for television as creative manager at ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation. Since 1982, Lee has been generously conducting scriptwriting workshops for free at his home, where he challenges the writers to explore the limits of their skills or imagination by giving them assignments on the streets of Manila and elsewhere.
Ricky Lee has published Trip to Quiapo, a screenplay manual, and Brutal/Salome, the first book of screenplays in the Philippines. He launched his first novel, Para Kay B, in 2008, which was followed by Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata, both of which received much public acclaim.
Apart for writing for the screen, Lee has been a practicing journalist and has been a staff writer of Filipino Free Press in the 70s. Throughout that turbulent decade until the 90s, he wrote features and interviews for the Asia-Philippines Leader, Metro Magazine, Expressweek, Malaya, The National Midweek, Veritas, and Sunday Inquirer Magazine.