When the world is crumbling, love may find you a new trail

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – “The gravity of the situation gave me the will to get the film off the ground.” That was director Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil’s response when asked where she got her inspiration in making her new film, Lakbay2Love, a romantic coming-of-age story about videographer Lianne (Solenn Heussaff) who is torn between forester-biker JR (Dennis Trillo) and her ex-boyfriend, roadie-biker Macky (Kit Thompson), with a screenplay by Palanca winner Layeta Bucoy.

The journey to Lakbay2Love began in 2009 when direk Ellen had her son taught biking at La Mesa Dam. She recalled, “I got awed at this forest within the city and teared up when our guide told us that the earth is dying and how in 30 years, our children or grandchildren may no longer see wildlife. That’s when I swore to make a bike movie.”

When Supertyphoon Yolanda happened in 2013, direk Ellen became even more motivated.

Finally, she was able to gather a staff — some of whom are bikers themselves — led by associate producer Boy Siojo, a long-time environmentalist since his UP Mountaineering days; production designer Candy Alipio who biked to her wedding; and biker-actors who took time off from their busy schedules. Dennis took time from filming Felix Manalo, same with Solenn who was busy with TV tapings and multiple endorsement activities, and Kit who was taping for the teleserye Forevermore. The cast and staff would shoot just once a month, traversing the busy streets of Manila to the mountains, ridges and trails from Quezon City to San Mateo, to Mt. Maranat and Benguet. Even with the intermittent shooting sked, they somehow completed the movie in a span of seven months. They are now ready to start their Lakbay2Love into the hearts and minds of the audience.

Lakbay2Love seeks to tap the power of the motion picture to provide inspiration for people to take a step towards lessening fossil fuel emissions, particularly through biking — which the film uses as both a motivational and inspirational tool in getting this message across — as a form of exercise, a hobby, a sport or a mode of transportation. Lakbay2Love invites everyone to go back to basics: Nature, and fall in love with it all over again. The filmmakers believe that while fear is a great educator, love is just as great a motivator — maybe even better.

“The film is a celebration of a collective life of traveling together and appreciating land, water and sky,” explained direk Ellen who also helmed and produced the acclaimed 2008 film about child protection and music titled Boses which, on its seventh year, continues to screen locally to both parents and youth, and also abroad.

In fact, Boses will open Berlin’s first Filipino filmfest, the First Reel Philippine Film Festival, on Nov. 18 and 19, 7 p.m. at Kino Moviemento.

But while Lakbay2Love does lend a voice to the environment’s outcry, the director hopes that their film will encourage viewers, especially the young, to make biking a part of their lives. “Biking provided me with delightful childhood memories and I want that experience to be felt by this generation, especially now when it is in vogue again to all classes and all ages, and in fact is touted as a lifestyle that can beat stressful living.”

Lakbay2Love has partnered with the Firefly Brigade which will hold its Tour of the Fireflies event on Nov. 15, as well as the Cordillera Conservation Trust that focuses on reforestation of the Cordillera region. “We are presently looking for other partners to help bring Lakbay2Love to the widest audience possible when it opens in cinemas early next year,” she said.

For details, check out facebook.com/Lakbay2Love.

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