Bela on suicide: Be more discerning when it’s time to help our troubled loved ones
Bela Padilla is not the type of girl who’s all fluff and no substance. The brainy beauty is now a certified screenwriter. She took a scriptwriting course under the “master,” Ricky Lee.
Bela wrote the script of “Last Night,” which is topbilled by Toni Gonzaga and Piolo Pascual.
The dark rom-com centers on two lost souls on the verge of suicide.
I’ve not seen the film, but I heard a lot of positive feedback about it. Bela has proven her worth as an actress. Now, she’s also making her mark behind the camera. The girl keeps blooming and soaring.
Here’s my chat with Bela:
What prompted you to venture into screenwriting? My love for books, and my desire to play different roles.
What are your thoughts on suicide? We have to acknowledge that people get depressed. We have to be empathetic and perceptive enough to discern when our loved ones can’t handle [their problems] anymore … and when it’s time to help them. Because life is important.
“Last Night” is a love story. The suicide element comes in because that’s what the characters are going through, but I’d like to reiterate that this is about how love can save you.
What are the most important lessons about writing that you learned from Ricky Lee? To write any time of the day and forego the idea of “writer’s block.” To play with the spectrum of formula-based materials and out-of-this-world materials. To always walk the road less traveled.
How do you and Neil Arce (coproducer of “Last Night”) manage to work harmoniously after your breakup? We’re just good to each other. It helps that we aren’t together anymore, so there aren’t a lot of emotions involved—we don’t have to tiptoe around each other’s feelings. When an idea doesn’t work, we can say it outright.
Where did you get the idea or inspiration for the story of “Last Night”? The script is purely fictional. We’ve all gone through low points in our lives, and we have problems that are either big and small, but at certain times, the smallest problems can feel like they can end everything you’ve worked so hard for. That’s the mindset I used for the film’s two lead characters.
How would you compare the fulfillment you get from acting and writing? They have different responsibilities. As an actor, you think about how you can make your audience feel what your character is going through.
As a writer, you make all the characters real. Plus, you have to create a narrative, so the audience can connect with them.
Any amusing anecdote while shooting the movie? I got starstruck with Toni, because I’ve been a fan of hers for so long. Piolo would rib me to go talk to her, but I was always too shy, so he would call her and say, “Tin, Bela has something to tell you”—and I would freeze!
What was the toughest part about writing “Last Night’s” screenplay? I stopped somewhere in the middle because I wanted to see what the city of Manila could add to the script. So, Neil and I drove around to see which places we could incorporate into the material.
If it were your last night on earth, how would you spend it (aside from being with your family)? I’d drive around and give everyone waiting for public transport a ride home while playing their favorite songs on my stereo.
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