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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.

Jul 4, 2015

Fil-Italian Actor-Director Energized By His Best Actor Win For 'Of Sinners & Saints' And Will Make More Films In Manila

FIL-ITALIAN actor-director Ruben Maria Soriquez got a very pleasant surprise when his name was called as best actor in the World Premieres Filipino New Cinema Filmfest. "I was frozen when I heard my name," he says. "It's my first acting award."

This is for his role as Fr. Leonardo Rosellini, a priest from Rome assigned in Payatas, in "Of Saints and Sinners", now still showing in SM Cinemas. Complications arise when he meets a former girlfriend, Merlinda (played by Chanel Latorre), who's now the battered wife of the abusive Franco (Polo Ravales). Soriquez admits that although he's a baptized Catholic, he's not really a practicing one.

His dad is Filipino and his mom is Italian. "They met when they were still students at Heidelberg University, where Jose Rizal studied. I'm the second of three children, born and raised in Bologna, Italy. I was three years old when they broke up. My father went back to the Philippines. I didn't see him for many years, no communication at all. I was 14 when I saw him again. By that time, both he and my mom have remarried and I have half siblings in both sides. My dad is a womanizer and has many children. He's now 75 years old. I was 19 when I first visited Manila. Now, I'm based here. I have a Filipina wife, Lanie Gumarang, who I met while she was working in the toys department of SM. We have one child."

He studied filmmaking in both Italy and New York. He loves the works of Italian masters like Fellini, De Sica, Visconti and the Taviani Brothers. He has directed two other films before, "Sexocracy" and "The Broken Crown", both released in Italy. How did he come up with his script for "Of Saints and Sinners"?
"I co-wrote the script with Bong Ramos. There are really Italian missionaries in Payatas founded by an Italian priest. I had long talks with them and that became the basis of the movie, which was shot there on location. My line producer, Monch Bravante, helped me in setting up my production company and in casting the movie. Aside from Chanel and Polo, we also have Raymond Bagatsing and Richard Quan as other priests serving in the community, and Althea Vega as another battered wife. They're all very good and don't need much direction, especially Raymond who makes his own improvisations. My wife also plays a small role. Franco Eco, an Italian friend, wrote the original musical score and he used a full orchestra. We're now negotiating for the movie to be distributed abroad and I want them to be shown in schools here as the story is about a valid social issue, violence against women and children."

Soriquez is energized by his best actor win and he's now preparing for his second movie in Manila, the story of a man looking for his father, which is obviously based on his own personal experience with his own dad.