‘Sunday beauties’ revisited
A year after Baby Ruth Villarama’s documentary, “Sunday Beauty Queen (SBQ),” made history in the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) for winning best picture, the trials and triumphs of its lead stars, a bunch of feisty and fearless Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Hong Kong, continue to unfold.
In a way, a documentary never really ends, as its main characters’ stories—and struggles—go on in real life, 24-7.
Villarama told the Inquirer that the docu’s stars (Leo Selomenio, Rudelie Acosta, Cherrie Marie Bretana, Mylyn Jacobo and Hazel Perdido) have become instant celebrities among their colleagues and compatriots in Hong Kong and Manila.
“Some Filipino tourists seek them out on Chater Road and run after them in train stations for a photo and a hug,” Villarama related. “They’ve become household favorites among their peers.”
They’ve also gained a few fans among the country’s movers and shakers—including two lawmakers. Selomenio recalled that two Filipino senators had approached him for a snapshot during a gathering in Hong Kong. “They told me that I had made their wives cry.”
Selomenio, who heads the organization Global Alliance, is still busy engaging in charity work and mounting beauty pageants in Hong Kong. “Last month, I gave a speech at the International Forum on Migration in Hong Kong. This month, I was invited by the Philippine Migrant Rights Watch to speak before government officials and labor groups at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila.”
Acosta, for her part, is also active in her own group, United OFW Panaboan Incorporated, which supports Selomenio’s Global Alliance, as well.
As the organization’s president, Acosta is spearheading several projects and activities for the migrant community and their families back home. “I plan to go back to the Philippines in July next year, for our Operation School Supply in Panaboan, Davao del Norte.”
Villarama reported that Selomenio had also planned a similar outreach program in Abra for 600 children of OFWs. “Many opportunities keep coming my way,” Selomenio pointed out. “But I’ve learned to love my job (as helper) for the past three decades.”
Perdido told the Inquirer that she aims to come home next year when her current employment contract ends. In the meantime, she preoccupies herself with various activities: “Dance, Zumba classes and other fun sporting events.”
She noted that the docu had changed her life for the better. “It made me stronger. I’m more of a fighter now…more determined to fulfill my dreams for my children.”
She has one unfulfilled Christmas wish, though. Perdido hopes that the docu will be shown in her home province of Ilocos Norte soon.
Selomenio echoed the same wish: “I am praying for more screenings in schools and in the provinces, so that more OFWs and their families can watch it.”
Bretana is still working in Hong Kong, as the breadwinner of her family in North Cotabato. She plans to return home in 2019, after 10 years abroad.
“I want to experience Christmas with my loved ones in the Philippines,” she explained.
Being part of “SBQ” is a huge honor, she said, because it “continues to serve as an inspiration to many domestic helpers like me.”
The biggest surprise was reserved for Jacobo, who stumbled on a belated acting career, post-“SBQ.”
“I never expected that I would be seen on TV and in the movies and get to travel abroad, but this time not as an OFW,” Jacobo remarked.
She has acted in a TV drama anthology and a short film—
and has three indie movies in the works, including one with an internationally acclaimed filmmaker.
“My first TV exposure
was ‘Magpakailanman,’ and I shared a scene with Janice de Belen,” she recounted. “I was nervous, but I enjoyed myself.”
She was part of Ice Idanan’s short film “Ania ’ti naganmo? (What is your name?)” which premiered at the QCinema fest.
Jacobo, who attended this year’s Inquirer Indie Bravo! Awards with Villarama, is looking forward to her first acting workshop under the Philippine Educational Theater Association early next year.
“I realized how hard it was to make movies and TV shows,” she conceded. “I’m not yet a full-fledged actress, but for my relatives and fellow OFWs, isa na akong ganap na artista! A domestic helper who became a Sunday Beauty Queen…I am proud of my journey!”
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