Janella recalls emotional reunion with her father

Mario Bautista - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Regal matriarch Mother Lily Monteverde is launching to movie stardom Janella Salvador who gained fame as the daughter of Richard Yap in Be Careful with My Heart. Later, she was launched solo in the morning soap OMG. She now gets her break on the big screen in Regal’s Metro Manila Filmfest entry, Haunted Mansion, written and directed by award-winner Jun Lana. She’s turning 18 in March and she considers this movie as a Christmas and advanced birthday gift for her.

“I really have so much to be thankful for,” Janella says. “Kasi ang daming blessings na dumarating sa akin. Bukod sa TV and movie projects, may album pa ako and maraming endorsements. I cannot complain.”

The daughter of Miss Saigon alumna Jenine Desiderio and rocker Juan Miguel Salvador, it’s common knowledge that she has not seen her father since she became a teenager. But last August, they finally got to see each other again and it’s Janella who took the initiative to see her dad.

“I learned that he performs at Strumms in Makati every Thursday so I asked my mom na panoorin namin siya,” she says. “Nagtago lang kami to watch him. Everyone tells me ang galing-galing niyang mag-perform but I’ve never seen him. So finally, I was able to watch him and I was overwhelmed kasi magaling nga pala talaga siya.

She continues, “After his show, I went to him and we talked, I couldn’t breathe. I cried a lot and became emotional, but later, not in front of him. I have no grudges towards him. He said bakit hindi ako nagte-text sa kanya because he gave me his number before. Hindi ako makasalita. We just hugged. So ayun, naayos naman. I will invite him to the premiere night of my first movie and on my 18th birthday and bahala na siya kung gusto niyang magpunta.”

In Haunted Mansion, she attends a retreat with her classmates without knowing that their venue is haunted. She later gets possessed by an evil spirit. “It’s really scary that’s why don’t miss it if you want to have a good scare. My co-stars here are Jerome Ponce and Marlo Mortel and we ourselves, we got scared while shooting our frightening scenes kasi ang husay-husay ni direk Jun Lana in cooking up scenes na nenerbiyusin ka talaga.

She and her leading men, Jerome and Marlo, are untested in the box-office. Do they feel the pressure of carrying an entry in the annual filmfest?

“Yes, there really is,” says Janella. “To begin with, this is our very first movie, tapos pang-filmfest pa na ang mga kasabay naming movies all have big stars. Our movie replaces Regal’s usual entry, Shake Rattle & Roll, a perennial hit, so expectations are high and we’re all praying that viewers will like and support it. We all did our best to make sure the movie really works, and we want to thank our director, Jun Lana, for being so patient with us. He knows that we’re newcomers so he really helped us and we learned so much from him. Mabait siya, hindi nagtataray. He taught us discipline and we really enjoyed working with him.”

Is it true they started shooting Haunted Mansion as early as April? It’s direk Jun who replies: “Yes, we didn’t rush it para mapaganda nang husto. This is one of Regal’s biggest budgeted horror films. We shot this on location in a mansion owned by the Marcoses in Cabuyao, Laguna. Mrs. Marcos herself signed the permit to allow us to shoot there. Maganda yung location and according to the caretakers, there are ghost sightings at the mansion.”

 He adds, “The story is about this group of high school students who hold a retreat there. Janella plays a girl who has the sixth sense and can see dead people. But she doesn’t want to use it because the last time she did, something bad happened. Her father died, so she was traumatized. But her classmates disturb the restless spirits at the mansion so their lives are put in danger. Janella has no choice but to use her sixth sense to save her classmates.”

Mother Lily adds at this point, “Our usual budget for Shake, Rattle & Roll with three episodes, inilagay namin dito. Lahat ng hiningi ni direk Jun Lana, we gave him. The production design is very expensive. The old house where the film was shot on location, we made it look older. For the flashback scenes set in the 1950s, we made the house look brand-new. They even dug a hole as big as a swimming pool for one scene, which lasted only for about two minutes on screen. The costumes, the effects, we really spent for them all. I can say we have the biggest budget among the horror entries in the filmfest.”

Also in the movie are Iza Calzado, LJ Reyes, Dominic Ochoa and Joem Bascon as the ghosts whose past lives in the ‘50s will be shown in flashbacks. Playing the teachers of Janella are Janice de Belen and Sue Prado while her classmates, along with Marlo and Jerome, are Sharlene San Pedro, Devon Seron, Ingrid de la Paz, Pythos Ramirez and Elisa Pineda. Playing the role of the mansion’s caretakers are Lilet, Allan Paule and Vangie Labalan.

Meanwhile, how does Janella feel that in her next TV show, Born for You, she will be paired with former Kapuso actor Elmo Magalona? “Of course, I was surprised but I feel good about it since I’ll get the chance to work with someone fresh,” she says.

She’s happy that many wonderful things are happening in her life at the moment. “Yes, I’ve met my father again after so long, then I’m doing my first movie, Haunted Mansion, which is a filmfest entry, and I have a new soap which is a good way to start the coming new year. Hopefully, all these good projects will continue come 2016.”












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