Filipino movies

Sharon and cast launch ‘Madam Chairman’
Megastar's first 'teleserye' is a 'tawa serye' - comic look at barangay-level Philippine politics

LAUNCHING 'TAWA SERYE.' Director Joel Lamangan and the Megastar. Photos: Leanne Jazul/Rappler 

MANILA, Philippines – Megastar Sharon Cuneta made a pitch for her new show, TV5’s “Madam Chairman,” at its launching at the Meralco Theater’s Multi-Purpose Hall on Friday, October 4.

This is her first venture into the “teleserye genre,” although this new series is a light drama or a “tawa serye,” as the cast and crew described the show.

READ: Sharon to launch first serye

The 47-year-old actress-singer is better known for her singing and her melodramas – not a few of them elegant and spectacular, and many among these films, blockbusters which made Sharon a household name. She has a firm place in Philippine cinema and pop culture that TV5 evidently aims to highlight through “Madam Chairman” and Sharon’s other show, “The Mega and the Songwriter,” with singer-songwriter-actor Ogie Alcasid. 

READ: Sharon Cuneta back to singing in new show

On TV, the Megastar is known for her self-titled musical variety show which ran for a good number of years on ABS-CBN, followed by a brief run of a talk show in the Kapatid network to which she relocated her career in 2011.

The press conference for “Madam Chairman” became quite a lively party, complete with food and beverages and a brass band. For this event, Rappler assigned a contributor as well as photo editor Leanne Jazul, recently arrived in Manila from covering the conflict in Zamboanga City.

Some reporters at the show’s launching chided Jazul, in jest, for the contrast in his recent assignments, although “Madam Chairman,” in a way, is still in political territory – being a micro-level comic look at Philippine politics as it operates in a fictional barangay.

In the “tawa-serye,” Sharon will show her natural comedic side. She said she couldn’t thank enough the Kapatid network for the opportunity to do something different in her career. After more than 3 decades in the biz, Sharon said it’s time to try something new.

“If you believe in what you are doing, the audience will be able to feel that as well,” the Megastar said. “As an actor, if you like what you are doing and you put your heart into it, you’ll love it. But I’d like to say this is the first time I am doing a role like this. You’ve never seen me like this in my 36 years in the business. And I am very happy that I did it here in TV5.

“My friends and those who are really close to me know that I am a very funny person. But people have always seen me as a dramatic actress, not someone who does comedy. Here in ‘Madam Chairman,’ there are funny situations and I am able to show my funny side as well. I feel blessed to have such good co-stars and a great leader in my director, Joel Lamangan.”

PRESSCON PARTY. Cast members join the Megastar at the launch of 'Madam Chairman'

The “tawa serye” is also a first for the multiawarded actor-director Lamangan, apart from his prolific work in television, cinema, and theater. Direk Joel it was who described this show as a “micro-level” look at Philippine politics, in which Sharon portrays a “reluctant politician.” She’s the show’s protagonist, but Direk Joel said there are no antagonists in the story, which will “depend on the given problems in the [fictional] barangay.” The filmmaker credits the show’s concept “to the creative team of Channel 5 and Joey [screenwriter-film director Jose Javier] Reyes.”

Asked about the cinematic outpout of 2013, Direk Joel said he finds this “a very interesting year in cinema,” noted for the diversity of its themes in the various festivals, and also for the predominance of the LGBT milieu, as reflected by such films as Direk Joel’s own “Lihis.”

READ: Comrades, a love story in ‘Lihis’

The filmmaker said it gives him great pleasure to direct the Megastar in her first venture into television comedy, apart from occasional flim comedies like Mark Meily’s 2003 film, “Crying Ladies.”

“Through this series, Sharon will prove to us that she is also a good actress even in comedy,” he said.

Sharon had something of a barangay immersion as preparation for the teleserye. She met with a barangay chairwoman, who showed the Megastar around her work at her barangay hall.

“I really learned a lot and I am so grateful to them,” Sharon said. “When I read the script, after I was through with the immersion, it was like pushing the buttons. I felt I was eksakto [right] for the role. Plus with Direk Joel’s help, he made sure that each one us [accords with] a certain characterization, para unique kami in our own ways.

“I guess Direk Joel [didn’t have to tell me to] just be myself, my jolly self. I love the role of Bebette, [the Madam Chairman], because puwede akong magluka-lukahan [I could go wacky], tanga-tangahan [act dumb], but when my character speaks, she has sense.”

Also present

Sharon noted the presence of TV5 president Noel Tolentino and Entertainment TV head Wilma Galvante at the launching, saying this was the first time she saw network executives taking part in this presentation.

“Your respect for your leaders is present because they give you the reason to love them and even more. That makes everyone in the staff excited all the more for our show and I am very happy to be part of TV5.”

Sharon remembers lighting up when she was offered this comedy. “Ma’am Wilma [Galvante] told me her favorite movie of mine was ‘Crying Ladies,’ because [she said] I was so different in that role, with the way I delivered my lines. It’s really welcome change to do something different.

“I must admit I was afraid to do teleseryes before. I’ve heard the horror stories about taping ending up the next morning. Buti na lang [Good thing], Direk Joel and I have a cut-off before midnight. But he works fast and we have such a fun set. We often finish taping early.

“With this show, we can be socially relevant without having to shove this in your throats. We can be funny and entertaining but relevant as well. –

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