Sandino Martin (left) with Celeste Legaspi, Girlie Rodis and concert pianist Michael Cu…
What Larawan has done to Sandino’s career
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - October 22, 2018 - 12:00am

Now it can be told: Sandino Martin beat two of his theater friends for the role of Bitoy Camacho in Ang Larawan, the 2017 Metro Filmfest Best Picture that really jumpstarted Sandino’s career.

“Larawan is one of my important films,” admitted Sandino. “It was somehow a game changer. The simplicity of what I did created a big impact both here and abroad. Someday I hope to do a period movie again...hopefully, a musical, too.”

The movie was recently shown at the Saint-Josse Place Tous, an arts festival in Brussels, Belgium, attended by Filipinos and other nationalities. Sandino graced the event with executive producer Celeste Legaspi and her husband Nonoy Gallardo and co-executive producer Girlie Rodis. A sister community of Binalonan, Pangasinan, Saint-Josse-ten-Noode is home to 153 ethnic groups. The culture of Binalonan was also featured in the arts festival.

…in front of a store in Belgium that bears his nickname, Inno.

“Sandino, in particular, was recognized by the Pinoys because of his ABS-CBN teleseryes (FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, etc.) aired over TFC (The Filipino Channel),” said Girlie. “Celeste was familiar to the fans who could sing Saranggola ni Pepe and Mamang Sorbetero.”

Said Sandino, “The people in Belgium loved our film. Some were asking so many questions and we liked it because we wanted to create curiosity. We encouraged them to ask more about our lost culture. They kept on commending us about the music and how they found the film hauntingly beautiful.”

Any more fond memories about Belgium?

Sandino, Girlie, Nonoy and Celeste in Bruges (the capital of West Flanders in northwest Belgium).

“The chocolates in Bruges,” said Sandino (who has traveled around Europe before). “As we were walking around Bruges (the capital of West Flanders in northwest Belgium) before we headed to the Larawan screening, concert pianist Michael Cu, our Filipino host, bought us famous home-made chocolates. He said that the best chocolates in Belgium are found in the shops that are not yet completely commercialized because these are family-owned businesses and they create chocolates out of heirloom recipes.

“We also had beers in a small café in Ghent (a port city also in northwest Belgium) while watching an old town fill up with young, dynamic people. Then we walked around Brussels trying to spot the best waffle place in the tiny streets and again wondered around like kids. We all climbed the mountain of Waterloo where Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated and savored the cool-morning breeze. Meeting a lot of interesting people made the trip so wonderful and unforgettable.”

One of the nice sidelights of the trip was when folk dancers from Pangasinan asked Celeste and Nonoy to dance. The couple couldn’t say no.

Celeste and Nonoy in an impromptu dance number with Filipino folk dancers

“In spite of the many bags I was carrying because I was going shopping at the Philippine bazaar,” Celeste said with a laugh, adding, “What surprised me was that Nonoy was also so game!”

Indeed, Team Ang Larawan is living out Nick Joaquin’s credo “to remember and to sing!”

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

ANG LARAWAN SANDINO MARTIN
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