The liberation of Glaiza
Returning to this year’s Cinemalaya was a liberating experience for actress Glaiza de Castro.
She had already accepted the inevitability that she wouldn’t be able to squeeze in Kip Oebanda’s “Liway” into her hectic schedule that’s frequently devoted to the GMA 7 daily afternoon soap opera, “Contessa.”
“I was having doubts. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do the two projects at the same time. I told myself that if management said no, I wouldn’t fight for the film,” she owned up.
Much to her surprise (and eventual trepidation), the network said yes—which meant her week would be equally divided between the show and the movie, with only Sunday as her day off.
Doing double duty would entail not a few sleepless nights, though.
“When confronted by challenges like this, I take comfort in the thought that something exciting would come my way after,” she volunteered.
She recalled that the last day of shoot was the most draining and difficult on the set.
“I had to do a heavy dramatic scene,” she recounted. Unfortunately, she was running on empty. She was grasping at straws, “looking for stimulus” to help her immerse into the scene.
“It was taking a long time,” she related. “I was getting frustrated. I was super tired because we were shooting the whole day. I usually get to take a nap during our free time, but we didn’t have a break that day. The physical and emotional exhaustion just dawned on me.”
So when the director declared that it was a wrap, Glaiza couldn’t help getting emotional. “I was filled with feelings of relief, satisfaction and joy,” she quipped. “It made me realize that I made the right decision.”
She was keenly aware that “Liway” was just what she needed right now. “I did it for my personal satisfaction,” she pointed out. “On television, we are often forced to show extreme emotions in an instant. In this film, the flow of emotions was more gradual. I was given time to process and nurture each scene. I was allowed to focus on specific scenes rather than on how many scenes I had to finish in a day.”
It was liberating, in more ways than one.
“I am excited to do more movies and play different characters,” she enthused. She starred in such Cinemalaya entries as “Still Life,” “Astig,” “I-Libings” and “Patikul” in the past, but concentrated on TV work in the last few years.
In this year’s Cinemalaya, she portrays the titular political detainee who raises a child in prison during martial law.
Glaiza knew that her character was based on the mother of the filmmaker, Cecilia Oebanda. “I got to meet her before we started shooting,” she shared with the Inquirer. “I confided in her that I was nervous. That I might fail to give justice to the movie.”
The real Liway assured the reel Liway. “She told me that what’s important is that we tell this story well and inspire other people. Those were our only goals.”
The film also permitted her to showcase her musical talent. She not only sang two Asin songs, “Himig ng Pag-Ibig” and “Pagbabalik,” she also played the guitar.
To push her further, her director didn’t tell her which Asin tunes she would sing until the day of the shoot. “Luckily, I am familiar with the songs of Asin. I did a cover of ‘Itanong Mo sa mga Bata’ in my album, ‘Magandang Simulain.’”
She also learned a lot from her young costar, 9-year-old Kenken Nuyad, who plays her son. “I love acting with kids. They’re so raw, real and uninhibited. As the adult, it’s your responsibility to guide them and take care of them.”
She was reminded of her own time as a newbie, when she counted the stellar likes of Joel Torre, Rio Locsin, Cherie Gil and Gloria Romero as her mentors.
“I am thankful that I got to act with them because just by observing how they worked, I learned a lot about the craft,” she remarked.
Cinemalaya will be held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and selected Ayala Cinemas from Aug. 3 to 12.
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