Sunshine Dizon lauds Nora Aunor’s influence on her
The culminating activity of an acting workshop organized by GMA Artists Center in 2004 required all the participants to perform Nora Aunor’s unforgettable monologue as faith healer Elsa in “Himala.” To make things more challenging, the students were asked to interpret the piece with various emotions, as if the 1982 film was remade into a horror, musical, action, or comedy movie.
Students drew lots and Sunshine Dizon, then a teenager, picked “Himala” reinvented as a sexy film.
“It was difficult because I was very young then and had no idea how to be sensual,” Sunshine recalls.
Sunshine, however, left quite an impression among the panelists—which included Ricky Lee, the man who wrote the screenplay of “Himala.”
“She made the monologue lusty, desperately provocative,” says the writer.
Fast-forward to the here and now, Sunshine gets to act in a film penned by the award-winning scriptwriter: “Hustisya,” Joel Lamangan’s entry in the Directors’ Showcase section of the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, which will be held from Aug. 1-10.
Sharing the screen
As a bonus, she gets to share the screen with La Aunor.
Sunshine first worked with Nora in the GMA 7 drama anthology “Magpakailanman” over a decade ago. “I remember telling my mom a day before our first taping day: Am I good enough? I don’t want to mess up in front of Ate Guy (Nora’s nickname).”
She relates: “Other actors warned me that you should avoid looking into her eyes because you’d go blank.”
But the Nora that Sunshine worked with on the set of “Hustisya” was not an intimidating Superstar at all.
“She’s humble, funny,” Sunshine describes Nora. “One time, she whispered to me: ‘I might make a mistake, please be patient with me.’”
When Nora was dropped from the list of national artists, her “Hustisya” coworkers were more upset than the Superstar herself, Sunshine relates.
“I felt so bad,” Sunshine owns up. “Why is morality an issue? It’s not like we’re choosing the next Pope. Who are we to judge her? Whatever happens, she will forever be our Superstar.”
(In 2006, Sunshine also acted in the TV remake of another Nora classic movie, “Bakekang.”)
Sunshine looks up to Nora—particularly when choosing daring roles in risky, independently produced films.
Before “Hustisya,” she finished “Kamkam,” another indie film by Direk Joel.
When Direk Joel told her about these two projects, she didn’t even ask what her roles were. (In “Kamkam,” she plays the second wife of a slumlord’s thug. In “Hustisya,” she portrays the daughter of a woman involved in a human-trafficking syndicate.)
She grew up under the watchful eye of Direk Joel. “I worked with him in several soap operas when I was younger. He directed me in two big films, too: ‘Sabel’ and ‘Filipinas,’” she recounts.
She admits that she learned dedication and discipline from the filmmaker: “Direk Joel will only scold you if you are not doing your job. But since I am older now, I no longer get screamed at … . It’s a lot calmer on the set now.”
She bravely jumped into the indie scene for the love of Direk Joel.
Sunshine relates: “‘Kamkam’ was my first indie. They say you have to make lots of sacrifices in an indie film. But the work conditions (in ‘Kamkam’ and ‘Hustisya’) were not that different from those in a mainstream project. We also had an air-conditioned tent. I think our producer (Harlene Bautista of Heaven’s Best/Likhang Silangan) pampered us. Since she is also an actor, she knows the needs of actors.”
No prima donna
Sunshine, however, is not a prima donna on the set. She had no complaints even if her scenes were shot in a shantytown in Cavite, says line producer Dennis Evangelista.
“Kailangan talaga cowboy ka. You don’t do it for the talent fee either,” Sunshine says. “I did ‘Kamkam’ and ‘Hustisya’ for the love of Direk Joel, for the craft, for my soul.”
“Kamkam” opens nationwide today.
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