‘Pauwi Na’ star Bembol Roco on why you should watch the quirky road movie

Amanda T. Lago
‘Pauwi Na’ star Bembol Roco on why you should watch the quirky road movie

Martin San Diego

In the film, Roco plays a father who, along with his family, makes a long journey from Manila to the province in a pedicab

MANILA, Philippines – Movies about family road trips are a special kind of funny (think The Darjeeling Limited, Little Miss Sunshine, or the upcoming Patay na si Hesus) – and in Paolo Villaluna’s Pauwi Na, the main family’s choice of vehicle makes the familiar premise even funnier.

In the film, a poor family decides to leave Manila and go home to an unnamed province using perhaps the flimsiest, most inappropriate vehicle for a long road trip: a pedicab.

The rather ambitious choice of vehicle is quirky enough, but the road trip is made even more eccentric by the family who sets out on the journey. There is the pedicab driver patriarch, his wife, their thief son, cigarette vendor daughter, and pregnant daughter-in-law who is completely blind except for her visions of Jesus, and of course, the family’s pet askal, Kikay.


As outlandish as the story seems, it was actually inspired by a true story, published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer in the early 2000s. The original story was of a family who, out of poverty, set out to travel from Manila to their hometown in Leyte – a distance of over 800 kilometers – using only a tricycle. The family got as far as Bicol in a span of four months, and inevitably encountered all kinds of challenges along the way. (READ: ‘Pauwi Na’: 10 things to know about this funny, tragic road movie)

Filipino families

Bembol Roco, who plays the father in the movie, said that Pauwi Na celebrates Filipino families.

Sa movie, ‘yun nga ang pinakita, kung papaano nagmahalan yung pamilya kahit na gaano kahirap ang biyahe nila (In the movie, that’s what is shown, how the family loves each other no matter how difficult their journey gets),” Roco told Rappler in an interview after the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino kick-off on August 3.

“It just shows how Filipino families are bound together, how they survive all these trials,” he said.

VETERAN. Roco, who plays the father in 'Pauwi Na,' drew from personal experience for the role. Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

The veteran actor shared that shooting the movie was not without its challenges – but perhaps much like their onscreen characters, the process became fun because of the company.

“Actually, ang hirap ng shooting namin (our shooting was difficult). It was only what, 12 days, I think? And our locations were difficult to shoot at. Pero dahil maganda yung chemistry ng cast, masaya kami (But because of the good chemistry within the cast, we were happy). We enjoyed every minute of the shooting because of the company,” he said.

FAMILY. Cherry Pie Picache,  Bembol Roco,  Chai Fonacier, Jerald Napoles, and Meryll Soriano bring the film's eclectic family to life. Screengrab from Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino YouTube

Roco, who is himself a father, said that he drew from personal experience in preparing for his role in the film. “Kung ano man yun, napagdaanan ko (whatever it was, I went through it),” he said.

He also said that he read the story on which the movie was based. “Mula nung mabasa ko yun (ever since I read that), I did dedicate this film to that family,” he said, adding that the rest of the cast – which includes Cherry Pie Picache, Meryll Soriano, Jerald Napoles, Jess Mendoza, and Chai Fonacier – also did the same.

POOR PARENTS. Cherry Pie Picache plays a laundrywoman, while Bembol Roco plays a sick pedicab driver in the film. Screengrab from Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino YouTube

“Very believable and heartwarming ito,” Roco said of the film.

Pauwi Na, which has already won various awards in various international festivals, will be hittiing Philippine cinemas from August 16 to 22 as part of the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino. – Rappler.com

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Amanda T. Lago

After avoiding long-term jobs in favor of travelling the world, Amanda finally learned to commit when she joined Rappler in July 2017. As a lifestyle and entertainment reporter, she writes about music, culture, and the occasional showbiz drama. She also hosts Rappler Live Jam, where she sometimes tries her best not to fan-girl on camera.