‘Burgos’ marks Cinemalaya premiere

CCP filmfest closes with a bang with Joel Lamangan's politically charged film starring Lorna Tolentino

 LT'S 'FIRST INDIE.' Mrs. Burgos is all praise for Lorna's portrayal. Photo from the film's Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – The Cinemalaya audience was enlivened anew Saturday night, August 3, for the screening of the advocacy film, “Burgos: A Mother’s Love.”

Renowned filmmaker and actor Joel Lamangan directed this film based on the story of Edita Burgos’s search for his missing activist son, Jonas.

READ: Jonas Burgos: Trapped in a web of lives

Grandslam actress Lorna Tolentino portrays Mrs. Burgos in this film written by acclaimed screenwriter Ricardo “Ricky” Lee.  

“Burgos” was presented as the closing film of the 9th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival.

The film drew a large crowd, which packed the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater) of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

This is Lorna’s first indie – in a year of firsts that includes Vilma Santos, Gretchen Barretto, and Jasmine Curtis-Smith venturing into the world of independent cinema.

Evocative melodrama 

The multiawarded actress with the iconic “nunal” (mole), like Nora Aunor’s, arrived with her sons Ralph and Renz Marion. Lorna had just returned from a vacation in Europe weeks ago and was not around during “Burgos’s” recent press preview.

Lorna T or LT, her popular nicknames in showbiz, was seeing for the first time this movie she starred in.

“I cried after I read the script,” said Lorna T. “I fell in love with the script. Pero siyempre it’s different when you are already doing the scenes. This is the first time I am seeing the movie.”

READ: Why would the Army abduct Jonas Burgos?

The politically charged film marks something of a departure for LT, known primarily for evocative melodramas like Jose Javier Reyes’s “Bayarang Puso” and Eddie Garcia’s “Sinasamba Kita.”

Lamangan’s “Pusong Mamon,” a more candid gay-themed film that LT also starred in, predated “My Husband’s Lover” by more than a decade.

At the Cinemalaya premiere, Mrs. Burgos was all praises for Lorna’s sensitive portrayal, Direk Joel’s obsession to do the film, and Ricky’s poignant script. She also thanked Heaven’s Best Production, the producer of “Burgos.”

LT said about Mrs. Burgos, “Sabi niya, parang sarili raw niya ang nakikita niya sa movie.” (She said it’s as if she saw herself in the movie.)

“I told her that when I first met her and talked to her, I was already observing her, how she talks, walks, moves, pati raw ang boses niya nagaya ko.” (Even her speaking voice, she said, I was able to emulate.)

“I really observed her and I watched the interviews about her so that I would have an insight on her person. Whenever she visits our set, I really make it a point to observe her, kung paano magsalita, ‘yung kilos niya [how she talks and how she moves],” said the actress.

The disappeared

Lorna said she is full of admiration for Mrs. Burgos’s faith and courage, and also for these qualities among her children who continue to search for their brother. 

“I admire the strength the Lord has given Mrs. Burgos and her family. I also experienced what it was like to lose someone that I love,” Lorna said, referring to her late husband and fellow actor Rudy Fernandez. 

“But with Mrs. Burgos, wala pang closure ang nangyari sa kanya.” (There has been no closure [in their search for the missing Jonas].)

“Up to now, they are searching for the truth kaya nga sana magkaroon na nang kaliwanagan.” [One hopes that some light would be shed on this case.]

“And I hope this movie would be able to help in that search for Jonas and for the truth regarding his disappearance.”

Lorna also wishes the film would find a broader audience – including the festivals abroad, by way of sounding out a call for assistance for the plight of the disappeared and their families.

First indie, third choice

LT expressed pride in “my first indie film.”

Ang wish ko ay maging successful ito at maraming makapanood. Malaking bagay na sa akin kung maraming manonood ng movie.” (My wish is that this film becomes successful and many people would watch it. It means a lot to me already if many are able to see the movie.)

Lorna said she didn’t mind it at all that Nora Aunor was the first choice for this project.

“I didn’t mind. Thank you na may ginagawa si Ate Guy kaya di niya ito natanggap and it was offered to me instead.” (Thank you to Ate Guy who happened to be doing something else which is why she couldn’t take this project.)

“Thanks also to Ms. Hilda Koronel who was also offered the role. I was the third choice, I guess. It doesn’t matter. What is important is that I was given the part.”

The evening was a star-studded affair, led by the film’s cast, including LT, Allen Dizon, Ana Feleo, Bangs Garcia, Kerbie Zamora, Barbara Miguel, Rocco Nacino as Jonas Burgos, Tirso Cruz III who portrayed the widely respected journalist Jose “Joe” Burgos Jr., and Direk Joel and screenwriter Ricky.

Among the celebrities who attended the premiere were Eugene Domingo, Gina Alajar, Lyn Cruz (wife of Tirso Cruz III), Sandy Andolong, Amy Austria, Ricky Davao, filmmakers Mac Alejandre  and Jun Lana, TV5 executive Perci Intalan, GMA 7 executive Lilibeth Rasonable, and Hero Bautista of Heaven’s Best Production. – Rappler.com

Watch the ‘Burgos’ trailer here:

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