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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.

Dec 20, 2020



RITZ AZUL feels so fortunate to have not just one but two entries in the coming Metro-Manila Filmfest: “The Missing” and “Mang Kepweng Lihim ng Bandanang Itim”.

“It was not planned,” she says. “‘The Missing’ was meant for the Metro Summer Filmfest last April na hindi natuloy due to the pandemic. And now, pareho silang entries sa December filmfest ng isa ko pang movie.”

She plays the lead role of Iris in “The Missing”, produced by Regal Entertainment and written and directed by Easy Ferrer of the successful BL series, “Jim X Ben”. 

Her co-stars are Joseph Marco (who also has two entries as he’s also in movie, “Isa Pang Bahaghari”) and Miles Ocampo. So who is Iris and what is her story?

“She’s a young architect who is grieving after her younger sister was kidnapped and killed by some bad people,” says Ritz. 

“It was very traumatic for her and to help her forget the tragedy, she agreed to do the restoration project of an old ancestral home in Japan. Nagkataong kasama ko roon si Joseph Marco as Job, another architect who happens to be my ex-boyfriend.”

The film was shot on location in Karatsu, Saga Prefecture in Japan. 

“Ang ganda nung place,” adds Ritz. “It was fall season when we shot the movie there at ang ganda ng mga dahon na various hues of yellow, red and gold. 

"The house we are supposed to restore is 100 years old. Wala kaming kaalam-alam na it is haunted pala. Soon, we are experiencing a lot of strange things.”

How did she prepare for her role? 

“My character is experiencing anxiety disorder at hindi na ako lumayo pa as my peg was my own mother, who’s been having anxiety disorder for many years now. Yung character ko, si Iris, has to consult a psychiatrist to help her cope with stress. 

"Her condition is aggravated by the fact that her mom is blaming her for what happened to her sister. In the film, talagang I was required to always look stressed out kasi I’m experiencing hallucinations and visions. Playing the role of Iris helped me understand the situation of my mother better.”

She says the house they used as the film’s main setting is actually 150 years old. 

“Pagpasok pa lang namin, it really felt so creepy na. Nangilabot agad ako, lalo na when the caretaker said there are areas in the house and the compound na hindi kami puede, off limits, due to one reason or another. 

"Before we started actual shooting, we had to do some purification ritual muna to make sure we will all be safe while shooting there.”

She says the film is really scary, with lots of jump scares. 

“So don’t watch it alone kasi matatakot talaga kayo,” says Ritz. “Be sure may kasama kayong manood nito. Our writer-director, Easy Ferrer, said he patterned this after Japanese horror flicks that were a hit worldwide, like ‘The Ring’ and ‘The Grudge’, which even had successful remakes in Hollywood. 

"If you enjoy watching horror movies and being terrified, don’t miss ‘The Missing’ as we’re sure you’ll enjoy and it will give you a good scare.”

You can watch “The Missing” and all the other entries in the Metro-Manila Filmfest by accessing Upstream.ph for only P150 and your whole family can watch with you.