Three decades in show business, Vina Morales perks up when offered roles that flex her muscles—such as playing Sisa in the upcoming movie “Damaso.”
In an interview, she shared that director Joven Tan reached out and offered to her the role of a mother who went insane after her sons went missing. Sisa is a character from Dr. Jose Rizal’s classic novel, “Noli Me Tangere.”
“Sabi ko kay Direk, ‘I would love to do it!'” she recalled. “Isa pa sabi niya (Joven), ‘Ito pa, kakanta ka.’ Tanong ko ‘Ano po musical na movie? I’ve never done that, sige Direk I’ll do it!’ even walang napag-usapang TF (talent fee), nothing, I wanna do it.”
Vina added: “Any actor ay dream magkaroon ng ganitong klaseng pelikula kasi karamihan na istorya, paulit-ulit ang takbo.
” This is going to be a classic movie. Alam mona maski paulit-ulitin, mapapanuod ng next generation, maraming matututunan.”
The Regis Films and Reality Entertainment’s musical historical movie is about film producer Ms. Lulu (played by Aiko Melendez) who is doubtful about making a project inspired by the story of “Noli Me Tangere,” which aims to show the parallels between past and present societal issues. With that, the project will be able to tackle one of the longstanding debates in the entertainment industry: artistic merit vs dictates of commerce.
A memorable scene Vina did was spit on her co-actor as instructed by Joven.
“Nagulat nga ‘yung guwardiya sibil kasi dinuran ko. Siyempre umiiyak ako, punong-puno bibig ko, on the spot sa mukha niya. Nagulat siya, buti na lang nakatalikod siya, sa akin nakatapat ‘yung camera. But then it turned out maganda naman,” she said.
“So ganu’n si direk, pabigla-bigla. Sabi ko ‘Sige direk bahala ka huh!’ Pero nag-sorry naman ako sa kanya (guard) after.”
In terms of preparation, though Vina is familiar with Sisa, she did extra research.
“Everyone knows that she’s a loving mom ‘yun nga lang hindi siya maswerte sa pag-ibig dahil she’s a battered wife. At the same time, nu’ng nawala ‘yung dalawang anak, niya du’n na gumuho ‘yung mundo niya. So naging mabigat para sa kanya, parang naging baliw.”
Vina noted this is her first musical film. She praised Joven’s original compositions, particularly the track sung by her character.
“When I heard the song, recorded the song, napaiyak ako,” she shared. “Napakaganda ng awiting ginawa, tamang-tama sa eksena.”
Though the project has both seasoned and budding actors, each is given the chance to shine.
“Talagang kanya-kanya kami ng mabibigat na eksena,” Vina said.
In the cast are Jin Macapagal as Ibarra, Riva Quenery as Maria Clara, Arlene Muhlach as Tiya Isabel, Carmina Martin as Consolacion, Irma Adlawan as Mrs. San Andres, Pinky Amador as Donya Victorina, Richard Quan as Tinyente, Luke Conde as Linares, Michael Flores as Kapitan Heneral, Ariel Rivera as Kapitan Pablo, Mon Confiado as Padre Salvi, Lou Veloso as Pilosopong Tasyo, Ian de Leon as Maestro, Arnell Ignacio as Padre Damaso, and Ejay Falcon as Elias.
The actors that play characters in present times are Aiko, Nyoy Volante, Ketchup Eusebio, and Marlo Mortel.
Vina shared they shot mostly in Region IV, Calabarzon, particularly in Taal Batangas and Pila, Laguna where there are houses designed like in eras gone by.
What is the message of the film from Sisa’s point of view?
“Just to be strong and to survive sa lahat ng pagdadaanan sa buhay,” Vina said. “Kasi mabibigat ‘yung pinagdadaanan niya, kailangan natin maging matatag sa lahat ng problema na dumadating sa buhay natin.”
Asked how she feels “Damaso” did not make the cut in this year’ s Metro Manila Film Festival, Vina simply smiled.
“I think any movie gusto makapasok sa filmfest, we were hoping pero ganu’n talaga. Kung ‘di para sayo, hindi talaga mabibigay,” she said.
“Damaso” opens in theaters on Nov. 20, then in different schools and universities.