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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 16, 2018

Meg Imperial Plays Title Role As The Rape Victim In 'Jacqueline Comes Home, The Chiong Story', Based On The True Crime Drama That Happened In Cebu 21 Years Ago

MEG IMPERIAL stars with Donnalyn Bartolome in “Jacqueline Comes Home, The Chiong Story”, a true-to-life crime drama based on the tragic story of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong who were abducted and killed in Cebu City more than two decades ago. They are supported by Alma Moreno and Joel Torre as their aggrieved parents, Dionisio and Thelma. Playing the leader of their ruthless abductors is Ryan Eigenmann.

The movie is the directorial debut of Ysabelle Peach Caparas, daughter of writer-director Carlo J. Caparas and the late actress-producer, Donna Villa. Two days after they went missing, the body of Marijoy was found thrown off a cliff in the town of Carcar in Cebu. Jacqueline is missing up to now.

Meg plays Jacqueline while Donnalyn plays Marijoy. Meg says she’s only 4 years when the crime happened on July 17, 1997 while Donnalyn was 3. It will now be released on July 16 in time for the heinous crime’s 21st anniversary. Meg says she immediately did some research on the case after she accepted her role.

“I’m interested to know what happened to the family after the incident,” she says. “Sayang nga we didn’t get to meet them. Si Direk Carlo Caparas lang ang kinakausap ni Mrs. Chiong who gave her official permission for the movie to be done.”

A movie based on the case was also made in 2004 by Toto Natividad, titled “Animal” and starring Via Veloso and Pyar Mirasol as the hapless victims, with John Regala as the brutal kidnapper-rapist, but all the names were changed as it didn’t have the official nod of the Chiongs.

“Kami, may cooperation ng Chiong Family. Our names are really the names of the victims, Jacqueline and Marijoy,” adds Meg.
What's her experience in shooting the rape scene? "Ilang beses na kong na-rape sa movies so sanay na ako," she laughs. "The scene was one long take kaya mahirap siya. But napansin ko, the rapists led by Ryan Eigenmann, parang hirap o nahihiya silang hawakan ako, so ako pang nagsabi sa kanila, sige lang, do what you need to do para maging convincing ang eksena."

Is she aware that, in real life, those who were convicted for the crime come from well known families in Cebu, like Paco Larranaga who’s now serving his sentence in Spain since he has dual citizenship. Some years ago, a documentary, “Give Up Tomorrow”, was shown saying that Paco is not guilty as he was in Manila when the crime happened.

“Yes, I’m aware,” says Meg. “But we didn’t mention the names of those convicted at all. Their names were changed since the film’s focus is on the Chiong family, lalo na sa parents after the crime happened.”

How was it working with Alma Moreno and Joel Torre as their mom and dad? “Malaking tulong sila sa amin kasi they’re both veteran actors. The first time I worked with Tito Joel was in a TV show when I was still a child star at nakakatuwa nga kasi natatandaan pa niya. Pareho sila ni Tita Alma na very cooperative and really helped us in our roles.”

How about new director Peach Caparas? “Nagkasama na kami sa movie na ‘Kamandag ng Droga’ where she was assistant director to her dad at co-actress ko rin siya roon, so magkakilala na kami. She’s very professional and really took her job seriously kasi hindi na siya kumakain dahil sobrang pursigido siyang mapaganda ang pelikula.”

Aside from “Jacqueline Comes Home”, Meg has finished another film with Viva, “Abay Girls”, where she plays a lesbian. How come it’s reported that she had a tiff with one of her co-stars in that film, Roxanne Barcelo? “Nagsimula lang yun sa text messages na pinalaki ng ibang tao,” says Meg. “As of now, we’re okay. Nag-shoot kami on location sa Misibis Bay in Bicol at okay naman kami, nagkukuwentuhan kami. We all had fun shooting it with Cristine Reyes, Kylie Versoza and Natalie Hart. Bale one week kaming nag-stay roon and we got to know each other better, so wala ng ganyang mga intriga.”