To greater heights: Budding filmmaker gets posthumous degree from AdU

Date Posted: December 4, 2020 at 09:07 AM

As parents beamed with pride, and their children celebrate their graduation day during Adamson University’s first Virtual Commencement Exercises, this budding filmmaker’s mother could just wish to have seen her son attend the rites, or simply watch it with their family. 

Just like how he never ceased to anything, and spread his wings during his stay in the University, AdU did not let his demise stop him from receiving the degree he has worked so hard for, and has brought him closer to his craft.

Last November 5, the University awarded Julius Melbourne Custodio his Bachelor of Arts in Communication degree posthumously – a testament of his passion for film, and his commitment to his education despite having an already-established career path waiting for him.

Julius, or Myka or Direk to his peers, has just become one of the bright stars of the Philippine filmmaking landscape after The Lost Sitty – a five-minute film he directed with his friends in Malaya Productions– landed on the top 8 of the Student Short Film category of the most recent Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF). His film was even partnered with Write About Love of TBA Studios -- producers of the renowned Philippine Hero film series Heneral Luna, and Goyo: Batang Heneral.

The young director from Adamson U had the potential to be one of the next names to appear in Philippine cinema’s ever-illustrious silver screens, yet, all those dreams came crashing on the afternoon of July 29, just a few months after getting his feet wet in the industry, and nine days before his birthday.

While others struggle with their battles against Covid-19, Julius fought his own but unlike the others, his was quick and sudden. Julius has been complaining of an aching stomach, prompting his mother, a health worker and frontliner, to bring her second-born to a non-Covid hospital.

His blood pressure was 60/30 when they arrived, and was sent straight to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), yet, he mustered strength to tell his mother the list of candidates for graduation will soon be released, he still has things to do, and that his thesis is already finished.

According to his doctor, Julius suffered from sepsis aggravated by depression and stress. His mother bared the closure of ABS-CBN contributed to her son’s woes, as he was supposedly a part of the network’s Darna: The Movie project. Julius was also involved in the 2019 horror film Tia Madre.

“N’ung nag-lockdown, dahil nasa loob lang ng bahay – sanay kasi s’yang nasa labas – alam mo naman ang lifestyle ng mga direktor – so, nakulong sila sa bahay kasi wala s’yang quarantine pass. N’ung nagkasakit s’ya, wala nang ibang outlet, wala s’yang ibang nakakausap,” she shared to the Adamson News.

“Meron s’yang mga nachachat – nasasabihan n’ya ng mga nararamdaman n’ya pero hanggang doon lang ‘yung pagkakaalam ko – simpleng sakit lang ng tiyan – [‘yun pala] nawala na yung good and bad bacteria n’ya.”

Julius had medical consultations, and complete medications, and was even confined in a hospital for his aching stomach but something once thought to be indigestion led to something worse.

As his passing left a gap to everyone who loved him, especially his family – his father is an OFW -- it was also a loss to his craft, and to everyone he has shared his passion with in the industry. As his mother shared, his laptop had nothing but script after script, also revealing her son had planned to join the Cinemalaya Film Festival with his peers.

She also mentioned her son, through his work titled Daluyong, continued participating in a Digital Scriptwriting Workshop under award-winning writer, and director Jose Javier Reyes.

But Julius was not just a budding filmmaker and scriptwriter, he was also a graduating BA Communication student – a part of what was called the ‘pandemic batch’ that graduated via the first Virtual Commencement Exercises in the history of Adamson University.

The University also acknowldged Julius’ achievements during the rites of awarding his degree:

Julius Melbourne S. Julius Custodio was nominated for posthumous degree in Bachelor Arts in Communication for the following reasons:

a. He was able to complete 187 units out of 190 units required for the program;

b. He applied for an overload during his last semester in the University, and has passed all his courses for the term;

c. He represented the school in the Student Short Film category of the Metro Manila Film Festival 2019 as the Director of the film The Lost Sitty which was declared as one of the Top 8 short films;

d. He was invited to speak about his experience in theater and film making at the University of Makati and Bicutan Parochial School, respectively;

e. His school entry, Pangyapak, won three major awards in the film contest sponsored by one of the recognized student organization of Adamson Univ

f. He was given recognition by his City of Imus & Barangay Carsadang Bago 2 for his participation in the Metro Manila Film Festival and few weeks before his demise; and

g. He was still attending a digital scriptwriting workshop with Jose Javier Reyes.

Julius Custodio has been an inspiration to his fellow Communication students for all his accomplishments. The activities he was able to do in just one year and the conferment of this posthumous Bachelor Arts in Communication degree is truly well- deserved.


Ms. Ailene Ayson, Communication Department Chairperson, read the said recognition as Fr. Marcelo V. Manimtim, CM, AdU President, personally awarded Julius’ degree to his mother and sisters.

It was the first posthumous degree the University awarded under the said program.

Thanks for the gift of your talent, your craft, and your life, Julius Melbourne Custodio, Adamson University – BA Communication, Class of 2020. Soar high, always, klasmeyt!