Laurice Guillen back in director’s chair

B. Allie Tah
Actress-director, whose range includes theater, film, and soaps, to tackle first serye from behind the camera

ACTRESS-DIRECTOR. Guillen as Blanche DuBois in PETA's Filipino adaptation of 'A Streetcar Named Desire' (1980). Photo from the Urian Anthology 1970-1979

MANILA, Philippines – Award-winning actress and director Laurice Guillen has finally agreed to direct her first drama series, GMA-7’s newest primetime offering, “Akin Pa Rin ang Bukas.”

The teleserye stars Lovi Poe, Rocco Nacino, Charee Pineda, Ina Feleo, Glenda Garcia, Steven Silva, Gary Estrada, Solenn Heussaff, Liza Lorena, Tiya Pusit, Ruru Madrid, Cesar Montano, and Gloria Romero.

Direk Laurice, 66, is known for her critically-acclaimed films, including her classy melodramas, such as “Salome,” “Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story,”  “Kung Mahawi Man ang Ulap,”  “Santa-Santita,”  “Init sa Magdamag,” “Ang Bukas Ay Akin,”  ‘Una Kang Naging Akin,” “Tayong Dalawa,” “Kasal?” and “American Adobo.”

Apart from her body of work in filmmaking, Direk Laurice is also widely acknowledged as one of the country’s top actresses, specializing in smart, snappy anti-heroine roles, matched by her trademark eyes on fire.

She comes from a period broadly referred to as the Second Golden Age of Philippine Cinema – the era of Mike de Leon, Ishmael Bernal, and her immediate mentor, Lino Brocka, who once described Laurice as his personal Jeanne Moreau.

Her classic appearances include Mike de Leon’s politically charged “Sister Stella L” and the thoroughly charming love story “Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising,” and (the following, all by Brocka) “Init,” “Gumising Ka Maruja,” “ Ina, Kapatid, Anak,” “Lunes, Martes, Miyerkules, Huwebes, Biyernes, Sabado, Linggo,” and “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang.”

Who can forget her icy phone-call dialogue in Danny Zialcita’s “Nagalit ang Buwan Sa Haba ng Gabi”:

“Puwede bang makausap ang asawa ko na asawa mo na asawa ng buong bayan?”

(May I speak with my husband who’s your husband who’s everybody’s husband?)

Pressure, ratings

Direk Laurice admits that she was at first hesitant about directing a teleserye because of certain demands that the network might expect from her.

“Directing a drama series will take so much of any director’s time,” she said.

“Taping is 3 times a week and [we would end our work at] uncertain hours. And there are numerous meetings with the production.

“At my age, baka hindi ko na kayanin ‘yung [I might not be able to handle the] pressure.

 “Lalo na siguro kapag nagtanong na sila regarding sa ratings.” (Especially when they ask about the ratings.)

“But the people at GMA-7 were very level-headed when I had a meeting with them. They asked me to give it a try and they gave me full control of everything.

“Ako naman, natuwa ako sa pagiging generous ng network na ito.” (I was pleased with how generous this network is.)

“When we started taping, everything went smoothly. Hindi kami umaabot sa puyatan ng husto. [We didn’t have to stay up all night.]

The director on her actors

“My actors kasi are so professional. Wala akong mairereklamo sa kanila [I have no complaints about them].

“Like si Cesar, I’ve worked with him in ‘Ang Bukas Ay Akin,’ where he won his first acting award as best supporting actor in 1989.

Si Tita Glo, I’ve directed [her] in her award-winning role in ‘Tanging Yaman.’

“Si Lovi naman, I’ve directed her once in an episode of ‘Magpakailanman’ and she’s very good.

“Gary Estrada naman, I’ve worked with him when he was just 17, in the film ‘Apoy Sa Puso.’ He has improved so much now.

“And would you believe that it’s my first time to work with Liza Lorena?

“Matagal na kaming magkakilala pero never pa pala kaming nagkasama sa anumang pelikula.”

(We’ve known each other for a long time but we were never together in any one movie.)

This, despite Direk Laurice and LIza Lorena being both old timers in the late great Zialcita’s ensemble.

Kaya it’s nice to finally work with her,” Direk Laurice said.

“First time ko naman to work with these new generation of stars like Rocco, Steven, Solenn, Ruru, and Charee.

“Mga fresh talents sila and very promising stars.

“Nakakatuwa din [I’m very pleased] that I get to direct my daughter, Ina Feleo.

“I’ve directed her in her first screen appearance in ‘Tanging Yaman’ where she was ice-skating.

“Then I directed her in this TV show for Channel 5 titled ‘Hush-Hush.’

“Kahit anak ko siya, pinagsasabihan ko siya like any other actor na nakakatrabaho ko.”

(Even if she’s my daughter, I treat her as I would any other actor.)

Casting adjustments

The series was delayed for more than a month because one of the original cast members, Helen Gamboa, had to drop out of the series for health reasons.

“We were actually done for the two weeks airing when Helen suddenly [had to back] out,” Direk Laurice said.

“Kaya we had to reshoot all her scenes. She had already finished 22 sequences sa iba’t ibang [in different] locations.

“Kaya na-move ang airing namin [from August] to September 9.

Liza Lorena who was originally tapped to play the role of Gloria Romero was asked to replace Helen Gamboa, about whom Direk Laurice and her cast and crew had expresed their best wishes.

Laurice has found herself more preoccupied in the director’s chair for some time. Add to that this serye.

Her actor’s persona, with its mataray brand of elegance, is very much missed among cineastes I’ve talked to.

“Since 2009, I’ve been acting lang on television,” she said.

“I did ‘Aryana,’ ‘Reputasyon,’ and ‘Nagsimula Sa Puso‘ for ABS-CBN. The last movie I did was ‘Babe, I Love You’ in 2010, where I was Sam Milby’s mother.

“Okey lang to give acting a break and go back to directing.

“The last movie I directed was the indie film ‘Maskara’ in 2011 pa.

“So I guess this is a good time to be back on the director’s chair.” –

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