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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Sep 23, 2016

Charo Santos On Working With Director Lav Diaz, Playing The Role Of An Ex-Convict In 'Babaeng Humayo', & Winning Best Picture In The Venice International Filmfesty

CHARO SANTOS plays the role of Horacia, a teacher who is imprisoned for a crime she did not commit through the machinations of her boyfriend, Rodrigo (Michael de Mesa.) After 30 years in jail, a key witness, Shamaine Buencamino, recants her testimony, saying she lied to frame up Charo, and Charo is freed. She returns to her hometown to discover that her husband has died and their two children are nowhere to be found. She then plots her revenge against Michael, now a very rich man, befriending several people to help her in her goal, including a transvestite streetwalker, Hollanda (John Lloyd Cruz), but this only leads to another miscarriage of justice.

How did Charo prepare for her role, her comeback vehicle after not acting for 17 years and focusing on being an ABS-CBN executive? “I went to an acting workshop by Malou de Guzman kasi matagal na nga akong di umaarte,” she says. “Then I went to the Correctional Institution for Women to get to know the place and interview some inmates to get the essence of what it’s like to live in prison for years. I also had a lot of discussions with our director Lav Diaz about the motivations of my character and my co-actors gave their own contributions, like Mae Paner who said I act too classy for someone who’s a convict. It’s a very collaborative experience. I just want to thank everyone involved for their energy and support. It’s very much appreciated.”

How is it working with Lav? “Lav is a brilliant man, but he’s very well grounded and humble. His passion for cinema is the reason he comes out with excellent movies, kasama na yung pagmamahal niya sa bayan. And as a director, he’s alway cool, calm and collected. Walang tension sa set. Chill lang.”

Did they expect to win in Venice? “No, we went there without any expectations. You just go with the flow, take things as they come. I’m just grateful that we made it as one of the 19 official entries in the main competition. Kasi hindi naman kami kilala roon. Hindi nila sasabihing si Charo yan, former president ng ABS-CBN. They just saw the film for its own merits and we’re so fortunate to get very good reviews. Noong awards night, they gave us special treatment, pinasakay kami sa limousine going to the red carpet. Kami ang huling tinawag and the people there said, kapag ganun, we’re sure to win something. But they called na the best director, Silver Lion, pero wala pa rin kami at nag-iyakan na kami kasi, yun pala, we will win the best picture, the Golden Lion. Masayang-masaya ako for Lav, para sa aming lahat, para sa Philippine cinema because the Golden Lion is a celebration of the Philippine cinema. I’m so proud of Lav because I saw his evolution in his works. Of all his films, this one has a very solid storytelling. Critics say it’s his most accessible film and the shortest at only 3 hours and 45 minutes, so sana maraming manood when we show it in theaters on September 28. It deserves a bigger audience at sana, magustuhan ng mga kababayan natin.”