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Freeman Cebu Entertainment

‘Silip Sa Apoy’ stars lay bare the abuse they lived through

Vanessa A. Balbuena - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  Sid Lucero says he grew up in a household that was “really violent” and that stuck with him as he became an adult. The son of late actor Mark Gil and actress Bing Pimentel also experienced abuse in other forms – inflicted by others and himself – such as being bullied in school, and harming his body with drugs and other vices.

“I have a really dark past with substances which I did to myself. That’s like a slow form of suicide. I was violent, I was into drugs, I stopped but then in the middle of my career, I fell back into it and let my ego swallow me up,” the 40-year-old actor opened up during a Zoom media conference, adding that spent the last nine years recovering and feels he is now in a stable state.

“I’m also a Filipino and I live in a country where we should be getting more which means I’m surrounded by people who abuse their power.”

The discussion was steered towards real life experiences with being abused as Sid’s latest film on Vivamax deals with just that – the cycle domestic abuse perpetuated by a patriarchal society and a system that leaves many women with no financial independence to break free.

“Silip sa Apoy”, another erotic drama where Filipina-Korean actress Angeli Khang (“Taya”, “Mahjong Nights”, “Eva”) gives fellow Vivamax sexy star AJ Raval a run for her money, is the story of Emma (Angeli), a young woman who is tired of living with her alcoholic husband, Ben (Sid), who becomes violent whenever he’s drunk. She finds a knight in shining armor in Alfred (Paolo Gumabao), their new neighbor who lives right beside them in a squalid rooftop community. Every night he peeps through the holes of the wall and witnesses the marital abuse.

Alfred and Emma eventually fall for one another and have a secret relationship. He promises that they would run away together to escape the wrath and violence of Ben, giving Emma a hope to finally have the freedom she’s been longing for.

Produced by Viva Films, “Silip sa Apoy” was directed by McArthur C. Alejandre and written by Ricky Lee. To date, the flick has the highest views ever for a Vivamax title, crunching 250,000 views during its opening weekend and toppling the earlier record of AJ Raval’s sexy-action flick “Hugas.”

“There are many graphic love scenes in the film, but for me, the scene where Emma is washing her wounds and Alfred comes in, they both stare at the moon and no one is saying anything, for me, that is love,” Alejandre said. “That is the truest love scene in the movie. For a certain moment in the movie, there’s humanity.”

Angeli, for her part, revealed she was physically abused by her father, a Korean military man, back when she was under his care from 2011-2014 in Korea.

“Pinalaki ako ng mom ko as a godly person so I never lost hope and I always prayed. Pumapasok ako sa school na may pasa sa mukha and my dad told me to say na sa sobrang kulit ko natamaan ng door,” Angeli shared.

“One day, answered prayer, nakita ng teacher ko yung cuts sa wrist ko and she asked me what happened. I just burst out, because it was hard for me to open up and call someone dahil alam ko uuwi ako sa taong naga-abuse sa akin. So I was really scared and felt entrapped. When I opened it up to my teacher he asked me to call my dad. After that, bigla na niya akong inuwi dito sa Pilipinas. Up until now I’m still affected by it. Thankfully I’m now on my mom’s side.”

Paolo’s brushes with abuse happened when he was enrolled in a traditional Chinese school in Taiwan and where he was the only foreigner. He recalled living in a country that looked down on Filipinos and so had to contend with physical mistreatment from students, and, most painfully, verbal injury hurled by teachers.

“One time, a teacher made me go in front of the class and said, ‘Don’t be friends with this kid because when he grows up, he’ll be trash.’ I walked out of the classroom and locked myself in the bathroom after that,” Paolo recalled.

Jela Cuenca, who plays a prostitute and Emma’s friend in “Silip sa Apoy”, had an abusive father who laid a hand on her mother. They eventually parted ways, and that made things all the better for her and her mom.

To victims of abuse, Sid advised, “Arm yourself by knowing your rights, knowing who to turn to and what numbers to call.”

Told of the quote famously shared on social media that people “deserve what they tolerate”, Paolo was first to express his disagreement. “It’s a crazy saying for me. Sometimes you tolerate stuff out of love, and no one deserves to be abused because of love.”

Alejandre said the quote can be true to “a certain extent” but can be also myopic. “That’s presuming na lahat ng tao ay pantay-pantay ang kakayanan, sa access sa mga bagay na makakabuti sa kanila. Pero hindi siya makatao,” the filmmaker explained. “Kailangan tignan siya sa punto de vista ng sistema, ng kalakaran, ng kung papano masasagip ang mga taong dumaranas noon at walang kakayanang makaalis.”

Having a front-row seat to marital abuse made executing similar scenes more difficult for Sid, sharing it was hard for him to sleep at night after doing such sequences.

Said Sid, “It’s really hard to raise a hand on…especially females, it’s really difficult for me. When I have scenes like this and I don’t have a connection with the cast, it’s more difficult. Having a connection with the cast makes it easier because it feels like we are playing and we have a mutual understanding that this is how we’ll do this. We both know there’s at least some level of trust there. I know in this film we both worked on that.”

“It’s really hard to sleep after a scene like that because some of the things aren’t really directed and written, so it must come from a dark place,” he added. “Not just because I experienced this in my home, but it happens in a lot of homes in various forms: not just physically but psychologically. And as an actor it’s my responsibility to portray it as it is.”

To watch “Silip sa Apoy” and the other offerings in Vivamax’s library, including Asian and Hollywood movies, subscribe to Vivamax for P149 per month or P399 for three months. Log on to vivamax.net or download the app and subscribe via Google Play Store, Huawei App Gallery and App Store.

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