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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 19, 2015

After 'Sekyu' & 'Felix Manalo', Director Joel Lamangan Now Shoots Another Significant Film, 'Tomodachi', About An Interracial Love Affair

DIRECTOR JOEL LAMANGAN turns 63 on September 21 (same birthday as our editor Eugene Asis, happy birthday to both of you) and he is truly back in action after being indisposed for sometime last year. After completing two important films, “Sekyu” and “Felix Manalo”, he has started shooting another significant movie, “Tomodachi (Friend)”, a touching story of love and friendship that spans more than 50 years in the lives of its characters.

“This is based on a true story about the love affair of a Filipina woman and a Japanese officer,” he says. “It happened to a relative of my grandmother. The Japanese guy, Toshiro, played by Jackie Woo, has his own store in a small town before the war. He falls in love with Rosalinda, played by Bela Padilla, the sister of his best friend, Edilberto, played by Pancho Magno. When World War II erupts, it turns out that Toshiro is an officer in the Japanese Army and he is compelled by his superiors to fight for the Japanese even if he didn’t want to do so, as Filipinos have become his good friends and Rosalinda is already his sweetheart. Edilberto, who has become a guerilla fighter, orders Rosalinda to forget about Toshiro. But the two interracial lovers fight for their love and they are ostracized by society for their love affair. Their story ultimately ends in tragedy.”

The movie starts 50 years after the Second World War. Toshiro, now an old man played by a Japanese actor they imported from Tokyo, Shin Nakamura, returns to Manila. He is welcomed at the airport by Edilberto, now played Eddie Garcia, and they go to the cemetery to visit someone’s grave, with Toshiro full of guilt and regret about what happened in the past. From there, the whole story is told in flashbacks. Will Toshiro’s return bring closure to his ill fated love affair with Rosalinda who he has never stopped loving?
Direk Joel told his concept to screenwriter Eric Ramos, who wrote the full script. Then he offered it to Jackie Woo, who is in the cast of “Felix Manalo”, playing the role of a Japanese officer in wartime Manila. Jackie immediately liked the project and even agreed to produce it himself. “Tomodachi” will be entered in various international film festivals and will have gala premieres in both the Philippines and Japan.