Meet the man behind BBM’s ads: Direk Paul Soriano


By Thea Nadine

When we come across the words “trendsetters” and “game changers,” we usually distinguish one from the other by its impact and longevity, as in one is fancy and fleeting while the other is longer lasting and has given a whole new dimension to its subject.

Direk Paul at work

But in the case of distinguished director Paul Soriano, one guy can prove that he can be both—a trendsetter and a gamechanger.

A talented and multi-awarded director, writer and producer, Paul Soriano took the movie scene by storm and has forever changed the landscape of Philippine cinema.

In a career that started in his youthful prime and has now spanned more than a decade, Direk Paul is renowned and a byword in the concert, music videos and TV commercial scenes, prior to taking his wares in creating short films, independent films and full length feature movies.

Paul made a name for himself in the film industry as an acclaimed director after he bagged the Best Director and Best Screenplay awards at the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) Awards in 2012 for the movie “Thelma.” He also captured the Best Director distinction for the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) for the movie “Siargao” in 2017. On top of these accolades, Paul has been nominated at the FAP Awards, Gawad Urian, Golden Screen Awards, MMFF, and the Tokyo International Film Festival.

With this award-laden resumé, Paul is now strutting his expertise in an altogether different field by exclusively and creatively handling the campaign visuals of presidential candidate and former senator Bongbong Marcos.

On the set of their new ad

It has become quite a controversial move, especially with the toxicity of the election season, but for Direk Paul, directing all of Bongbong's commercials is a badge of honor.

Recognizing that TV Political Advertising is a centerpiece battleground for aspiring presidential candidates, Paul and his creative team have created heart-wrenching and touching ads featuring Candidate Bongbong expressively conveying hope and unity, while breathing life and evoking emotion that resonates, sans the character assassination of opponents, and their ethics and moral codes.

There were many people, chiefly from one political side, who were incensed after they found out that Paul and his wife Toni Gonzaga are supporting Bongbong Marcos.

In the case of the couple, there are reasons which motivate people like them in their chosen brand of politics or politicians, with intangible factors like principles, values, and personal relationships that make them see things from a different perspective.

Unknown to many, Paul has a close relationship with Bongbong, and has been behind his advertisements--way back from campaigns since the latter started out as vice-governor and governor of Ilocos Norte; his stint as senator and his campaign for the Vice-Presidency, and until now, the Presidency.

Direk Paul with Bongbong Marcos

It was a no brainer decision for Paul to support Bongbong for he is the blood nephew of the latter's wife, Liza Cacho Araneta-Marcos. His father, Jeric Soriano and Liza are first cousins, while his paternal grandmother and Liza’s mother are sisters, making Paul second cousins with Bongbong's children Sandro, Simon, and Vincent. BBM and Liza also stood as principal sponsors during Paul and Toni’s wedding.

This relationship enables Paul and Toni to see Bongbong not one dimensionally and a superficial way, but rather as a person of great depth and multi-faceted character. Their perception of Bongbong is so far different from how he is perceived or judged by others or how he is often casting him in a negative light by the media, particularly by the network where Toni used to work.

It was even Paul's idea to feature Bongbong in the debut launch of ToniTalks. A much-awaited TV ad is also coming soon for the BBM-Sara UniTeam, with Paul leading the way, which will be released very soon.

In this current wave of heated politics, the positive disposition and energy of Direk Paul has given me pause and reminder that life, people, and issues are very rarely black or white. They are nuanced. There are gradients to our existence. Even when someone says that facts are facts, there isn’t just one fact of life—life is made up of countless facts that make this “good versus evil” narrative rather overly simplistic.

For Direk Paul Soriano, his choice of Bongbong Marcos as his President is no coincidence nor is it motivated by personal gain. It is true faith.