Direk Olivia has come a long way
LIVE FEED - Bibsy M. Carballo (The Philippine Star) - August 31, 2012 - 12:00am

It was sometime in the ’90s when we met three young graduates of girls’ schools judiciously undergoing training under possibly the most famous kolehiyala to reach the apex of Philippine communications history. Charo Santos-Concio, now fifth president and first woman president of the ABS-CBN and the Lopez Group of Companies, took these girls under her wing, seeing them young, eager and with great potential. This was when we met them, often on the set of Laurice Guillen, learning the trade. Today, Rory Quintos continues to direct insightful human dramas on film. Trina Dayrit remains with her teleseryes in partnership with others, or solo TV dramas, television being her choice medium.

Then, there is Olivia Lamasan who appeared to excel in writing and directing her own screenplays, as well as taking on corporate responsibilities. Olive has come up with some of the most memorable films in recent history like In the Name of Love, Sana Maulit Muli, Madrasta, Maalaala Mo Kaya the Movie, Minsan Minahal Kita and In My Life. It seems to us that as she goes from project to project, each one more challenging than the last, she will be moving into material that will demand of her audience a deeper perception and comprehension beyond entertainment.

Her last film project In My Life told of a mother (Vilma Santos) coming to terms with her son’s (Luis Manzano) gay lifestyle, understanding the emotions of his lover (John Lloyd Cruz) and accepting her own defects as a person and mother. One reviewer stated that the story of In My Life was just too much to digest with a lot of unnecessary subplots. Another said that the acting was fine but it didn’t need to be shot in New York. Still another complained that it was the mother’s story with the gay relationship glossed over. It was obvious they weren’t ready for the film.

This time around, three years later on The Mistress, direk Olive admits she finds herself tackling more and more adult issues. The Mistress has been on the drawing board for quite some time with Bea Alonzo, when Ronaldo Valdez and Hilda Koronel signed in for roles they truly deserve. The leading man Sam Milby, however, left for Hollywood to pursue a possible career there; Derek Ramsey who became hot property after two super-blockbusters came in as replacement, but in April this year, after five days of shooting, was relieved after he signed a contract with TV5. Although the TV5 contract specified non-exclusivity with regards to movies, ABS-CBN management decided to play it safe.

Many say it was meant to be that John Lloyd, Bea’s perennial love partner of 10 years, became available for another risky venture that is becoming the trademark of an Olive Lamasan movie. Both are known for the sincerity in their performances. Bea plays the mistress of a rich older man (Ronaldo) when she meets the character of John Lloyd and both fall for each other. Hilda, who plays the wife of Ronaldo, is hurt by her husband’s infidelity but tries to understand how such things happen. Bea who calls Olive “Inang” was initially afraid of this most daring role ever, but now calls it a “wonderful imperfect” love story. John Lloyd follows up by saying that “You don’t get to choose love. It chooses you.” Through The Mistress, Olive has introduced us to real people who are victims of their emotions and this disease called love. “All of them are flawed but all of them have a heart… You would sympathize and empathize with them,” she states.

It is sheer destiny that this quartet of actors happens to be among the best in the industry. Olive recalls when Lloydie was 12 years old auditioning before Charo, former network president Freddie Garcia and herself, he was asked why he wanted to be an actor. Tears of emotion dropped from his eyes and they all agreed they had found a star.

In The Mistress, Olive knows the challenge she faces in coming up with a mainstream movie that is genuine while serving the expectations of its audience, and increasing viewership through an MTRCB R13 rating. She also hopes to move out of the local mode and go regional in the least but budget is always the problem. Unlike the Koreans who are supported by government funding, the Philippine TV and film industry still remains a private undertaking, Olive asserts. We feel that Olive’s work as VP of Creative at Star Cinema, although it has taken time away from directing and writing, has provided her with the broad understanding of the media landscape. She may be at the crossroads of her directing career. But she is also up on the overpass scrutinizing the future of the Filipino film industry. The Mistress opens nationwide Sept. 12.

 (E-mail your comments to bibsy_2011@yahoo.com.)

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