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On the crest of impending MMFF success

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Don’t look now but a movie about romance and environmental awareness could be the dark horse in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival.

Jericho Rosales and Erich Gonzales in 'Siargao' (mb.com.ph)

Jericho Rosales and Erich Gonzales in ‘Siargao’

Like others before it that have used scenic spots in the Philippines as backdrop for their stories, “Siargao” is travel-themed flick focusing on the story of a woman who is finding, recreating and rebuilding herself in the picturesque island of Surfing Capital of the Philippines.

Directed by the acclaimed Paul Soriano, “Siargao” stars Jericho Rosales, Erich Gonzales and Jasmine Curtis-Smith.
It’s a sort of milestone for Paul who dips into rom-com for the first time.

“It was very light. It was very peaceful. I really had the most fun shooting this film out of all my films,” he was quoted to have said in a release.

More than showcasing the majestic tourist spots of the island, Paul aims to create environmental awareness.

“Let’s take care of the beauty of Siargao, the beauty of the beaches. Let’s respect the locals and let’s not saturate it,” he said.

Joining him in this cause are Jericho, who plays the role of Diego, the island-lover love interest of the brokenhearted video blogger Laura, played by Erich and the environmental activist and Siargao native, Abby, played by Jasmine.

Although Paul’s Ten17P Productions produced Jasmine’s indie film Transit (2013), “Siargao” is the first time that he gets to direct her, Erich and Jericho.

“I’ve always thought ‘This girl has it!’ She takes her craft seriously and I’ve always wanted to work with her as a director,” he said of Jasmine. “What was nice about Jasmine was even when we were shooting, she was really immersed to the experience.”

Although he’s long been wanting to work with him, Paul shared that he wasn’t able to get Jericho’s approval right away.

“When I was starting to think of my actors, of course Jericho was top of mind. Jericho has been a good friend of mine for how many years. I pitched it to Echo, it wasn’t a yes agad it was more of ‘Let’s meet usap muna tayo, kape muna tayo,’” he recalled.

Erich caught Paul’s attention as early as her promising “Katorse” days. True enough, he was able to discover Erich’s passion for acting while filming “Siargao.”

”When we went to Siargao, she had a crash course on surfing. It’s not easy to get up on your surf board but she did it. I remember pa when we had our dinner she had cuts and bruises all over her legs and her arms pero go pa rin siya,” Paul said.

Erich, for her part, couldn’t be any happier that she’s returning into the big screen after four years and with her first-ever title MMFF entry at that.

“Well it’s nice to be back and to do a movie na… nakaka-excite ito ’yung story mismo. And then siyempre ’yung setting niya, one of the beautiful destinations in the country and swerte tayo na napasali rin siya sa Metro Manila Film Festival,” she said.

The film also saw a lot of first for Erich including surfing, cliff jumping, going to Siargao, riding the motorbike and working with her co-stars and her director.

“Nandoon kami for a like a month, I mean balikan naman. Sobrang ganda ng experience namin du’n kasi parang you’re working pero at the same time parang nagbabakasyon ka rin doon,” she said.

Paul looks forward to having a film seen by, potentially, the biggest number of viewers he’s ever had.

“It would be nice to see the cinema more than 50% full. Sanay ako sa 10 people lang watching my film, 20 people watching my film, 30 people watching my film.”

“Siargao” rides the waves in cinemas starting Dec. 25.

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