Boots, Paolo, Rhian reflect on Alzheimer’s theme in Ikaw At Ako film

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Boots, Paolo, Rhian reflect on Alzheimer�s theme in Ikaw At Ako film
Rhian Ramos and Paolo Contis are paired for the first time in the romantic drama Ikaw At Ako, which opens in cinemas nationwide tomorrow, Dec. 6.

MANILA, Philippines — The upcoming film Ikaw At Ako revolves around a multi-generational story exploring lasting love.

In one storyline, an elderly couple — portrayed by Ronaldo Valdez and Boots Anson Roa-Rodrigo — grapples with the effects of Alzheimer's. One partner is facing this challenging condition while the other strives to cope. Another story is about a married couple, Marga (Rhian Ramos) and Anton (Paolo Contis), on the brink of separation but making a last-ditch effort to salvage their relationship. Lastly, a sweet tale of puppy love blossoms between Tintin (Fatima Mislang) and Miggy (James Ezekiel Ignacio) during a summer camp.

As the film explores relationships in different timelines, it also delves into dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The film hopes to shed light on the impact of these conditions on individuals and their families, while encouraging viewers to contemplate on the power of love amid adversity.

The STAR particularly asked the main cast members — Boots, Rhian, and Paolo — for their thoughts on Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Boots shared, “Most definitely (it is a subject I care about). In fact, this is a topic that my late husband Pete and I would talk about then, even if he had passed on in 2007, and which my husband Atty. Rodrigo and I talk about more because we’re of that age.”

She believes educating oneself about the subject can help lessen the anxiety and fear associated with Alzheimer’s. For her, learning more about the condition allows for better understanding, preparation, and proactive measures.

“I think it will help mitigate the concern, the anxiety over the prospect that Alzheimer’s brings if we educate ourselves, if we learn more about it and read more about it kasi minsan yung hindi natin alam eh, nagdudulot ng takot or scare,” Boots said.

“And when we’re able to study it, malaman nga natin na merong dangers, merong mga challenges na pwede natin paghandaan. I agree that while Alzheimer’s is, of course, a sickness, an affliction, pwede i-retard iyon or i-delay iyon by keeping oneself active mentally, physically and even spiritually,” she added.

Boots Anson Roa-Rodrigo joins the main cast of the film.

Rhian, on the other hand, expressed, “It’s always going to be timely and relatable for many. Personally, I also feel a bit of fear about that if I were to go through that or a loved one.” Reflecting on her family’s experience with dementia in her grandfather, she stressed the importance of keeping minds active. Rhian believes that while the topic is difficult, it’s essential to face the unknown with an open mind.

“My grandfather did have a bit of dementia but I wasn’t around him kasi all the time. There were just some parts I was able to witness when I would visit him. But like what Tita Boots said, it’s important that we keep our minds active. I’m very happy that I have a lola that does that. She’s always doing something. She always keeps herself busy. I love talking to her,” she said.

“It’s a difficult topic for many of us. I think, we do fear what we don’t know or haven’t experienced for ourselves. But I also don’t think that it’s the end. I think there are so many memories that can still be made in the current and love that can be shown.”

For his part, Paolo shared, “Yes, I can relate to the topic, but hindi dementia yung sa mom ko. Because when my mom suffered her second stroke, mas lumala yung long-term memory niya.” Nevertheless, the actor’s connection to the film made him more aware of the need to value the present and create more meaningful memories.

“Naging personal siya sa akin kasi simula na nagyari yun mas aware ka na sa dapat mong gawin. Na ang dami na niyang nakalimutan, minsan may pag-uusapan kami, for example, napagkwentuhan namin ang isang bagay five years ago, ‘di na niya maalala,” disclosed Paolo.

Photos show scene sform the film that explores love and relationships in different timelines.
Photos from Viva Films

“Meron lang konting panic on my part to make better memories now because yun na ang naalala niya ngayon. Para ganahan siya mag-therapy and everything. Because for a time, nawalan ng gana Mommy ko mag-therapy. So, thankfully, gusto niya kasi siempre gusto ko pa humaba ang buhay para yung mga nawala, pwede natin palitan ng bago. (It’s) scary but the good thing about it, you’re aware. So when you’re aware you have time para gawan siya ng paraan.”

In addition to their insights on Alzheimer’s, the cast was asked about the movie’s title and whom they would dedicate the line Ikaw At Ako to in their lives.

Paolo chose his mother. He elaborated, “Kasi naniniwala ako na sa panahon na okay siya, nung wala pa siyang stroke, I really took her for granted. Ano ka eh, anak ka. Especially with my Mom, who’s a bit of a stage mother, there came a point where every time she was on set, you’d get irritated, and it’s wrong. Lahat naiisip mo yun.

“Now, feeling ko may race akong kailangan matapos bago siya mawala sa mundong ito na mapa- feel ko sa kanya na mahal na mahal ko siya. I believe kelangan ko magawa ko sa Mommy ko yun, especially that I don’t have a father anymore, my dad died 10 years ago. So, ako nalang at kuya ko ang meron siya. So, dapat kasama kuya ko, ‘kami at ikaw.’”

Rhian picked her sister, Nadine. “I was trying to think kung sino sa buhay ko na kung masira na lahat basta siya OK lang… That’s my sister. Obviously, my whole life I spent with her. We spent our childhoods together, we have the same traumas, we have the same experiences.

“And ang daming stages in life, parang feeling ko nga in every stage of my life, I became a different person and also her, and we’ve loved each of those versions nonetheless, no matter how great or not so perfect they were. You know, we began together, and I want to see her happy until the very end. That’s my sister Nadine.”

Boots mentioned her husband but she also emphasized that life extends beyond “ikaw at ako” or “you and me” to include people around us.

The veteran actress said, “Needless to say, literally, ‘pag ‘ikaw at ako’ pag-u-usapan, siempre yung ‘ikaw’ ay si Atty. Rodrigo, my husband… Pero alam naman natin na ‘di naman nag-tatapos lahat yan sa ‘ikaw at ako.’ In truth, beyond ‘you and me,’ nandun yung katotohanan na kami at kayo, sila at marami pang iba.

“I think it was Thomas Merton who said, ‘No man is an island.’ You don’t live for yourself, nor just for your loved ones. That should extend to everyone around you, that we can see the Lord in everybody, especially during this Christmas season. It’s a good time to reflect on that.”

Directed by Rechie del Carmen under Viva Films, Ikaw at Ako opens in cinemas tomorrow, Dec. 6.

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