Direk Jade Castro enjoys first Kapuso film
Mario E. Bautista (The Philippine Star) - March 12, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Jade Castro is one of the most promising among the young writers and directors today. He first gained acclaim in 2007 for the indie film Endo that won the Special Jury Prize and the Best Actress award for Ina Feleo in the Cinemalaya, and Best Screenplay and Best Actor award for Jason Abalos in the Urian.

Since then, he has written scripts for Star Cinema such as First Day High and My Amnesia Girl. He also directed My Big Love starring Sam Milby for Star Cinema and the indie hit Zombadings: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington. He now directs the new GMA Films release My Kontrabida Girl starring Rhian Ramos and Aljur Abrenica.

The first of two boys, Jade was born on Aug. 21, 1978 and finished high school at Elizabeth Seaton in Las Piñas. He majored in film in UP and graduated in 2000. Why is he named Jade? “My mom kasi is named Ruby so she also named me and my brother after precious stones. My full name is Jade Francis while my brother is Jasper.”

After graduation, he worked as a script brainstormer for ABS-CBN. “But I really want to focus on films so I handled script continuity for direk Uro de la Cruz in movies he was doing for Regal like Bahay ni Lola, Singsing ni Lola and Bakit Papa with the SexBomb. I learned so much from him. Then I also learned writing scripts from Ricky Lee and I wrote the comedy D’Anothers starring Vhong Navarro for Star Cinema.”

In 2005, he helped put up UFO Films with other writers like Raymond Lee, Michiko Yamamoto and Ned Trespeces. Their first movie was Sarong Banggi that won the Urian Best Actress award for Jaclyn Jose. In 2006, they did Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, an entry to that year’s Cinemalaya and which later on, won Urian’s Best Picture. In 2007, he himself wrote and directed Endo and the rest, as they say, is history.

Endo is a very personal film for me. It’s basically a love story that gets interrupted dahil sa trabaho, which has happened to me. Endo comes from ‘end of contract,’ a dreaded term for casual employees na nakita ko sa striking workers sa SM with problems about their jobs. They never become permanent dahil laging may end of contract ang trabaho nila. The character played by Jason Abalos cannot commit to a relationship dahil nga hindi sigurado ang work niya and it affects his lovelife. It’s a hit with lots of young people who were able to identify with the situation.”

He tried doing TV soaps with ABS-CBN’s Mula sa Puso as second unit director. “But my heart is really in films, so tamang-tama, GMA Films offered me to work with them for a project starring Rhian and Aljur. May story na sila but I decided to change it with my co-writer Aloy Adlawan, and we came up with My Kontrabida Girl. Rhian plays the top villain in telenovelas. She does her job of oppressing leading ladies with much enthusiasm. Nagrereklamo nga ang bida sa soap niya na si Gwen Zamora dahil sa sobrang lakas niyang sumabunot at sumampal. But she has a life-changing experience and all of a sudden, she lost her mojo as a villain. Wala na siyang ganang manampal at mang-api. She asked the advice of the country’s veteran kontrabida Bella Flores who advised her to look for the one person that she hates the most then take revenge on him. It turns out to be Aljur, her childhood sweetheart in Palawan. She believes he has done her wrong so she returns to her hometown to ruin his life. That’s the story’s major conflict.”

Rhian Ramos and Aljur Abrenica in a scene from the film

So how is Rhian while they were shooting the movie, considering she herself was embroiled in a major personal conflict at that time? “We never talked about what she’s going through and it never became a problem on the set. Sa workshops pa lang, I already saw her energy right away. She likes her role as Isabel so much as it’s realistic. Just like in real life, the character she plays has a good and bad side, at napaglalaruan niya yun. She’s so good in this movie, napakagaling talaga.

How about Aljur whose acting is being panned by some people? “He’s aware of that, but the nice thing about him is he’s so dedicated with his work. He took our workshops seriously and I saw that he could tackle the demands of his role well, which is also tailor-made for him. As Chris Bernal, he’s an unpretentious, unassuming promdi, a gardener in the resort his parents left him and his sister, Bea Binene. He’s a pushover, doesn’t know how to say no, kaya dalawa ang girlfriends niya, Bela Padilla and Sabina Santiago. His world turns upside-down when he meets Rhian again.”

GMA Films exec Joey Abacan is so pleased with My Kontrabida Girl that he wants Jade to do another movie for them right away. “I have another project in mind but let’s wait muna for the outcome of My Kontrabida Girl. It’s a feel-good romantic comedy and I enjoyed doing it as I even have showbiz veterans like Kuya Germs, Lolit Solis and Ricky Lo appearing in it in cameo roles. I’m sure viewers will like it and we’re all praying it’ll be a big hit.”

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