Newcomer takes over Piolo’s role

Bot Glorioso - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The second choice, more often than not, turns out to be the better choice. This, newcomer Adrian Sebastian proves true when he impressed Baybayin director Auraeus Solito with his portrayal of the character originally meant for Piolo Pascual.

Direk Auraeus never denies that it was Piolo whom he initially considered to play the role of a deaf mute torn between two half sisters but Piolo’s tight schedule got in the way.   

“He (Piolo) fell in love with the script and liked the idea but then when we saw his schedule, we will be able to finish (shooting the film) by next year. So it’s really impossible,” the director explains. “It’s also impossible for him to fly to Palawan in the morning then go back to Manila at night.”

What came next was an audition to find the next actor fit for the part. Luckily, Adrian, a registered nurse, got the director’s nod which led him to clinching the male lead role.

Learning that he, in essence, replaced Piolo, Adrian is flattered no end. He admits to having no acting experience at all but his determination to realize his dream of becoming an actor turned out to be his best weapon.

“Ever since I was a kid, I imagined myself acting on screen to the point of imitating the moves of actors particularly those of action stars. So I never had second thoughts when my manager (Ricky Gallardo) told me to audition,” Adrian, who hails from Bustos, Bulacan, relates.

Although happy with the outcome, still, Adrian felt jittery the moment he learned that he was to act alongside award-winning real-life sisters Assunta and Alessandra de Rossi.

“There were thoughts running in my mind like ‘What if I can’t deliver?’ or ‘Would it be so hard to work with them na sobrang galing na artista?’”

Yet all his worries went pfft when they started shooting scenes in El Nido, Palawan. “Both are nice to work with and never did they let me feel that I’m just a newcomer. Masaya silang kasama. Mon (Confiado) and Archie (Andamo) treated me well, too.”

In preparation for his role, Adrian relates that he had an immersion workshop for a week in Palawan “to get the feel of my role.”

His skin turned a few shades darker, too. “’Di din kasi pantay ang kulay ko so nagpa-tan ako because the role requires me to bare skin as a member of a tribal group. Nakabahag ako dito.” 

Although the role didn’t require him to speak, he must visibly reflect his emotions through body language and facial expressions. “That’s why I take every scene seriously for me to express my feelings on screen.”

And he didn’t disappoint. Direk Auraeus has nothing but praises for Adrian. “Adrian is fantastic. He has this one long scene wherein he writes a whole paragraph in Baybayin on the back of the two sisters. Talagang naaral n’ya. ‘Yun ang nakalimutan naming i-rehearse pero ayos ang pagkasulat n’ya.”

According to the Wikipedia, Baybayin is a pre-Spanish Philippine writing system. It is a member of the Brahmic family and is recorded as being in use in the 16th century. It continued to be used during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines up until the late 19th century.

Baybayin, which also stars Sue Prado, is one of the three finalists in the 2012 Cinema One Originals Festival awarded with a P2-M production budget classified under Category A or the Cinema One Plus. The other two films are Richard Somes’ Mariposa Sa Hawla Ng Gabi and Adolfo Alix Jr.’s Mater Dolorosa.

Now on its eighth year, Cinema One Originals will be having its biggest presentation with 13 competition feature films in the line-up plus the screening of restored classics like Genghis Khan, Peque Gallaga’s Oro, Plata, Mata and Ishmael Bernal’s Himala. 

“Aside from the new ones, we decided to include classics like Himala, Genghis Khan and Oro, Plata, Mata in order for the young generation to have a chance to watch them,” says Cinema One head Ronald Arguelles.

With the inclusion of classic films, Arguelles adds, the festival still focuses on presenting fresh ideas from new and seasoned filmmakers. In fact, feature films in competition are now classified into two categories: Category A or the Cinema One Plus is composed of seasoned directors with a P2-M production budget each while the new breeds fall under Category B or Cinema One Currents with a P1-M budget each.

Cinema One Currents has 10 films in competition directed by new filmmakers. The line-up includes Ang Paglalakbay ng mga Bituin sa Gabing Madilim directed by Arnel Mardoquio; Anak Araw (Gym Lumbera); Aberya (Christian Linaban); Catnip (Kevin Dayrit); EDSA XXX (Khavn dela Cruz); Mamay Umeng (Dwein Baltazar); Melodrama Negra (Ma. Isabel Legarda); Palitan (Ato Bautista); Pascalina (Pam Miras); and Slumber Party (Emmanuel dela Cruz).

“Compared to the past years, the festival is bigger now in terms of content, variety and ambitions. We have something for people of all ages,” Ronald shares.

(The 2012 Cinema One Originals Festival will run from Nov. 28 to Dec. 9 at Robinsons Galleria and from Nov. 29 to Dec. 4 at the EDSA Shangri-La Cineplex. The awards night will be held on Dec. 3 at the Studio 1, ABS-CBN main building.)












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