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Baron Geisler on how he dealt with anxiety and depression
Baron (in pink) with Tililing co-stars (from left) Donnalyn Bartolome, Yumi Lacsamana, Candy Pangilinan, Gina Pareño and Chad Kinis. Says the movie’s director, Darryl Yap (below, right), “What I learned from doing the movie? That ‘mental’ will always be ‘emotional.’ What the brain can’t cure, the heart can heal.”
STAR/ File

Baron Geisler on how he dealt with anxiety and depression

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - February 27, 2021 - 12:00am

Been there, done that.

“This is not new to me,” admitted Baron Geisler when asked about his participation in the Viva movie Tililing which is streaming on Vivamax starting on Friday, March 5. “I have experienced being in jails and institutions. The recovery is a life-long process and that is why it is my personal advocacy to promote awareness (about mental health) and to stop the stigma.”

Directed by Darryl Yap (Jowable, Paglaki Ko Gusto Ko Maging Pornstar), the movie is about three interns (played by Candy Pangilinan, Donnalyn Bartolome and Yumi Lacsamana) who are assigned to an asylum where they meet three inmates played by Baron, Gina Pareño and Chad Kinis. The inmates have their respective painful stories to tell and in the end, the interns question themselves if there’s really something wrong with the patients or with them (interns).

The movie is relevant in this time when many people are locked down, confronted with the challenge on how to cope with the pandemic situation.

Asked further how he’s dealing with the situation, Baron added, “Yes, I experienced anxiety and depression due to being locked down alone, away from my family for three months. I kept praying and talking to them on the phone. I was scared, lonely and tired but by God’s grace, I was able to overcome it.”

Reacting to criticism prompted by the movie’s poster, direk Darryl said, “These people throwing half-baked judgment on a film that they haven’t watched yet are the real ‘funny’ ones. I always believe that a shallow audience will always have something ridiculous to say based on their ignorance. We are not joking about mental illness; the joke is on them.”

It’s not the first time that a film is tackling a topic as sensitive as mental illness, something that definitely should be taken seriously and not to be joked about. In 1975, a movie called One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, based on the 1962 novel by Ken Kensey, won several awards at the Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director (Milos Forman), Best Actor (Jack Nicholson) and Best Actress (Louise  Fletcher). The story is set in an Oregon psychiatric hospital, with the narrative serving as “a study of institutional processes and the human mind as well as a critique of psychiatry and a tribute to individualistic principles.” Nicholson plays McMurphy, head of the patients that rebel against the system, and Fletcher as the cruel nurse Ratched who supervises the ward.

Aside from Baron, four other members of the cast answered the same two questions.

Have you experienced anxiety or panic attacks during this pandemic and how did you survive it?

• Gina (a senior): Oo naman. We were all caught unprepared last year, lahat tayo nagulat. Everything stopped and we in the industry were greatly affected just like everybody else. I was supposed to do two movies last year but they were held off kasi bawal pa. Nagtitipid talaga kami ng pamilya ko; we cut the expenses at home. Isip ako nang isip noon. Nakaka-buryong, nakakasira ng ulo.

• Candy (the mom of a child with special needs): I am so blessed that I didn’t experience anxiety or depression during the ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine). I was very busy trying to figure out new activities for my son to replace his usual busy schedule in school and therapy. I just needed to see other people so we had Zoom meetings and dinner. We used technology to connect.

• Yumi: I live alone and I keep to my room most of the time. Sometimes, naiiyak na lang po ako bigla. But I tried to be productive during the pandemic since I cannot go out, I don’t want to go out. I do live streaming where I sing, I make kuwento with my friends. I’ve been making so many friends.

• Chad: Yes, nagkaroon ako ng depression at anxiety. During the first week of the lockdown, I was crying every night. Paano na ang lahat? The bar where I was working closed. How can I continue helping some people when I’m not earning anything? My advocacy is to help the patients at the PGH cancer ward for kids. I panicked when I learned that there was a shortage of face masks and I managed to buy some and donate them to the patients. The pandemic made me realize that friends are very important as support system. Kahit nakakulong ako sa aking condo unit, I try to talk to them on the phone. Good thing hindi bumitaw ang grupo kong Beks Battalion. We found a way to entertain people through a YouTube vlog that we put up. Making people laugh, entertaining them, plus the support of my friends helped me overcome anxiety and depression.

What lesson did you learn from doing this movie and how did it change the way you look at mental illness?

• Candy: That everybody has a story. We cannot just judge anyone because we do not know their pains and what the person experienced and is experiencing. I also learned that we should be more understanding and compassionate with one another. Reach out to a friend; we do not know who needs a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on or a good laugh to ease one’s worries.

• Yumi: Malaking leksyon ang nabaon ko from doing the movie. Piliin natin ang mabuti sa lahat ng pagkakataon sa araw-araw. We don’t know what the other person is going through kaya matuto tayong umunawa. Respect for each other is very important.

• Chad: I learned how to give more love and compassion. In this cruel world, sometimes without our knowing it, we hurt people and cause them pain, nagiging sanhi tayo sa pagkawala ng katinuan ng ating kapwa tao. We need to broaden our understanding, maging malawak ang ating pag-unawa at pag-intindi sa bawat isa. We should work together, help one another for us to survive this challenge with our mental health okay.”

Direk Darryl has more to say.

“This is what I learned from directing the movie...that ‘mental’ will always be ‘emotional’ and what the brain cannot cure, the heart can heal.”

(Note: Subscribe to www.vivamax.net or download the VIVAMAX app on Google Play and for P149 you can watch Tililing and other Viva films all you can on VIVAMAX ATIN ‘TO.)

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

BARON GEISLER
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