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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.

Jan 23, 2017

Elizabeth Oropesa & Sophie Albert Play The Same Character In Two Separate Time Frames In 'Moonlight Over Baler', With Vin Abrenica As Lone Leading Man

ELIZABETH OROPESA and Sophie Albert play the same character in Director Gil Portes’ touching and timeless love story, “Moonlight Over Baler”. They both play the schoolteacher, Fidela. Sophie portrays Fidela in the early 40s, when the Second World War breaks out. Beth O plays Fidela in the mid-1980s right after the EDSA Revolution.

Fidela is engaged to be married to Vin Abrenica as Nestor, a soldier. When the Japanese invades our country, Nestor is called to serve in the war front and their wedding is postponed. He promises to Fidela that he will come back and she waits and waits, but he never returned.

In the 80s, Fidela has become an old maid who has devoted her entire life to teaching. Then, one day, while she was in the public market, she is stunned when she sees someone who is the spitting image of Nestor. This is Kenji, a Japanese photographer who has gone to visit their hometown, Baler, and Fidela is understandably attracted to him. They become friends, with Fidela teaching Kenji how to speak Tagalog more fluently, making gossip mongers conclude that they’re into an illicit relationship.

Sophie says it’s an honor for a young actress like her to be portraying the younger Beth O in “Moonlight Over Baler”. “I’ve seen her films before and I know she has won many acting awards,” she says. “Kaya nga kabado ako nung una, sabi ko, baka hindi ko magampanan nang tama ang role ng younger Fidela. But Tita Beth herself is so supportive, kahit wala kaming eksena together, nagkasama kami sa location shoot sa Baler and she gave me nothing but encouraging words. My dream is to be a respected actress like her, na years later, active pa rin sa pag-arte sa film industry and still getting good roles like that of Fidela. According to Direk Gil Portes, convincing naman daw ang pagkakaganap ko sa role ko.”

She’s very good in her dramatic scenes in the film as the young lady pining for a lost love. Someone asked her where she made “hugot” the emotions she showed in her moving scenes. “My dad had a stroke when I was only 10 years old and he’s been comatose since then, for 16 years na. Our mom continues to take good care of him now that he’s totally bedridden. So isipin ko lang yun na I grew up longing for the love of my dad, madali na sa’kin ang magdrama.”

Sophie belongs to the prominent Cojuangco clan of Tarlac and Kris Aquino is a relative but they’re not close to each other. The name Sophie Albert is just a screen name given to her by Director Mac Alejandre when she joined TV5’s Artista Academy, where she’s the female winner and her boyfriend of four years, Vin Abrenica, is the male winner. Did she feel awkward working with Vin in “Moonlight Over Baler”, considering that they’ve already broken up?

“Hindi naman, kasi very amicable naman ang split namin. It’s a mutual decision na we concentrate muna on our respective careers, so we remain good friends and okay lang kahit na nga may kissing scenes kami in ‘Moonlight Over Baler.’ At ease na kami sa isa’t isa.”

Since Vin got to work with both Sophie and Beth O playing the same role, we ask him how would he compare their respective interpretations of the role of Fidela? “I think it’s unfair to compare them with each other. Pareho silang magaling. Magkaibang time frames ang ginagalawan nila, 1940s and 1980s, at pareho silang nagtagumpay na gampanan si Fidela in those two different periods.”

“Moonlight Over Baler” opens on February 8 as a Valentine presentation and is produced by the very friendly young producer, Rex Tiri of T-Rex Productions. Here’s wishing this new movie will do better than the last one he bankrolled, “Hermano Puli”.