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Joanna Ampil open to do more projects in PH this year

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After bagging the Best Actress award at the recent Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), “Ang Larawan” star Joanna Ampil is willing to stay for longer periods in the country if it means taking on offers that challenge her acting skills.

Joanna Ampil (mb.com.ph)

Joanna Ampil

“’Pag may offer naman, nandito talaga ako. I keep telling people that if you want me to do whatever you want me to do then I’ll be here. Philippines is priority,” said she, who has been working abroad for many years now.

Joanna added the offers need not be musicals as “Ang Larawan.”

Until then, the 42-year-old singer-actress will continue to tour the world for the musical “Cats” in which she plays Grizabella. She is off to Hong Kong this month.

Asked how it felt receiving the Best Actress plum, she said, “Masayang-masaya. Katabi ko ’yung mommy ko, ’yung daddy ko, ’yung boyfriend ko. So lahat ng mga importanteng tao, ’yung cast ng ‘Larawan…’ we were surrounded to share that moment with them,” she said.

“And alam kong malaking parangal ’yung MMFF kaya ako umiyak. I was planning not to but I couldn’t help it, it was overwhelming. It was the last award as well so I knew it was quite important. I’m happy because lahat ng hardwork namin paid off. Lahat ng sama ng loob, lahat ng suffering nawala lahat nu’ng na-receive ko ’yung award.”

Joanna explained the award means a lot to her as being recognized in her own country is something to be proud of.

“(Having an award) abroad is nice too but here (in the Philippines), I know how critical Filipinos can be. And I know how talented people are here and so to be recognized in your own country with a lot of talented people is really something else.”

Student, teacher

Joanna recalled having to pass through the eye of a needle in perfecting her performance in “Ang Larawan.” And despite that she even turned down some other projects to concentrate on doing the movie, there were times she wanted to quit.

“I thought the role is beyond me. I cannot express myself when I feel discouraged,” she said. “Hindi ko malabas ’yung gusto ng director. That’s why Jake (Macapagal, co-actor) was a major factor because Jake was nurturing and his word of encouragement helped me to push myself again.”

“He has done numerous movies as well so he gave me a lot of tips and advice as to what I am suppose to be doing when I am facing the camera or when the camera is on front of me, how to play with it.”

Among the things she learned from Jake are “have a lot of thoughts behind your eyes,” “know your story well,” “do your homework,” and “make sure the story is always alive.”

“Ang Larawan” took five years to finish.

The other angel

Joanna is also thankful to director Loy Arcenas who challenged her in so many ways that resulted to her pushing the envelope as far as it would go.

Joanna in a scene from 'Ang Larawan' (mb.com.ph)

Joanna in a scene from ‘Ang Larawan’

Though Loy is “a man of few words,” as Joanna put it, they still got through each other in the end.

“You kinda have to read what he wants you to do and execute it because he’s not really gonna tell you but he wants you to feel what he is trying to say,” she said.

Loy was also keen on details. He would even demonstrate every movement of the characters or how the women in that era would have acted.
What did she learn in playing the character Candida?

Love your own traditions, she replied.

“’Cause prior to that I had a hard time understating her (Candida) because I’m a very practical person. So when I was trying to lay up her character, I put no judgment in learning the character,” she shared. “So na-realize ko na she’s very much into her traditions and holding on to what she could hold onto and very much into her family and love ones. It’s hard because she doesn’t want to look very much insular outside so nagkaroon ako ng konting balance na you have to love what you have and own and be more sentimental.”

Revisiting the past

If you’ve not watched “Ang Larawan,” there’s still a chance to do so as the MMFF runs till tomorrow, Jan. 7.

Set in Intramuros just before World War II, the movie brings you back to the past in more ways than one.

The baro’t-saya, the vintage cars, the kitchen crockeries – everything in the flick is faithful to that era.

Sisters Candida and Paula Marasigan (Rachel Alejandro), daughters of high-profile painter Don Lorenzo Marasigan (Leo Rialp), who are struggling in a financial trouble after their father has not produced a single painting for a long time. The unmarried sisters rely on their more successful siblings Manolo (Nonie Buencamino) and Pepang (Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo) who urge them to sell their ancestral house. The situation prompts Candida and Paula to take in a border, Tony Javier (Paulo Avelino), will offer them to sell the last painting of their dad which was given to them as gift.

“Ang Larawan” is based on “A Portrait Of The Artist As Filipino” by National Artist Nick Joaquin.

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