Filipino films

‘Dearly Beloved’ stirs the pot on modern families and forgotten ties

Mia Magdalena Fokno

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‘Dearly Beloved’ stirs the pot on modern families and forgotten ties

SPOTLIGHT. Aileen Alcampado, Baron Geisler, Cristine Reyes, and Marla Ancheta share a moment following their Baguio interview about the film 'Dearly Beloved.'

Mia Magdalena Fokno/Rappler

'Dearly Beloved' is not just any relationship drama. It serves as an homage to 'Relasyon,' the iconic 1982 movie about non-traditional relationships that starred Christopher de Leon and Vilma Santos.

BAGUIO, Philippines – Love isn’t just found – it’s carefully crafted and nurtured. The premiere of Dearly Beloved at SM City Baguio marked a significant moment for the fans of Cristine Reyes and Baron Geisler in the city on Monday, March 25, drawing a crowd eager to catch a glimpse of the two stars. 

They were joined by Director Marla Ancheta and Writer Aileen Alcampado, the creative minds behind the poignant narrative. Produced by Viva Films, the movie is set to open in cinemas on March 30, and is anticipated to be an exploration of modern relationships within the framework of a blended family.

Dearly Beloved is not just any relationship drama. It serves as an homage to Relasyon, the iconic 1982 movie about non-traditional relationships that starred Christopher de Leon and Vilma Santos under the direction of National Artist for Film, Ishmael Bernal. 

People, Person, Urban
LISTENING. The Baguio audience listens intently during the engaging interview with the team behind ‘Dearly Beloved.’ Mia Magdalena Fokno/Rappler

The film follows the story of Deo (played by Geisler) and Shel (played by Reyes), who, after a chance encounter at a bar, fall deeply in love. As they begin to live together and build their own family, they face the complexities and judgments that come with being part of a blended family, all the while still legally bound to their former spouses.

The inspiration for the movie came from an idea by Viva Boss Vic Del Rosario, aiming for a story reminiscent of the classic Santos-De Leon film. 

Ancheta expressed her enthusiasm for the project, especially since it touched upon the complexities of blended families, a topic close to her heart and often only whispered about among friends.

The film’s narrative delves into the trials and tribulations of Deo and Shel as they manage their blended family setup. Apart from their own son, Gelo, they also have Nathan (Shel’s son with her ex-husband) and Trixie and Levi (Deo’s children with his ex-wife). This setup exposes them to harsh judgments that inevitably affect their relationship further.

Writer Aileen Alcampado spoke about the challenges of crafting such a story, emphasizing the desire to shift away from traditional narratives of infidelity prevalent in Philippine cinema. 

“Marla and I are both happily married. When we were trying to pitch concepts, we said we wouldn’t tell stories of ‘kabit’ (mistresses)…. Then Boss Vic suggested we give them something like Relasyon. So we did, but it’s an extra-marital romance that doesn’t focus on infidelity. It’s about the consequences of that kind of situation. As you know, we’re a country that doesn’t have divorce. That compounds a lot of problems in those kinds of relationships.”

GLAMOUR. Baron Geisler, Director Marla Ancheta, and Cristine Reyes exude glamour on the red carpet at the premiere of “Dearly Beloved” in SM City Baguio, on Monday, March 25. Mia Magdalena Fokno/Rappler

Reyes shared her personal connection to the role of Shel, saying, “It’s close to home because, in my family, and also some of my friends, they also have blended families. So somehow it’s mirroring itself.” 

Her portrayal, alongside Geisler’s nuanced performance as Deo, brings depth and authenticity to the film. 

Ancheta and Alcampado were deliberate in their choice of actors, seeking to find the contemporary equivalents of Santos and De Leon who could deliver powerful performances.

Ancheta noted, “Initially, when we were developing the story for this material, we focused on the story first…. Then, Cristine and Baron really came to mind.”

Geisler reflected on the audience’s potential takeaways, hoping that viewers will find their own meaning in the film’s complex characters and situations. 

“Me, when I watched the film, I had my own takeaway. Different human beings would have different opinions and beliefs in Shel and Deo and all the characters. So, it’s up to you when you watch the film, and I’m praying that you guys watch it,” he said.

Dearly Beloved promises to be a film that not only pays tribute to a classic but also speaks directly to the complexities of contemporary relationships. –

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