Princess dishes on Lea in ‘Yellow Rose’
Princess Punzalan-Field and I are like sisters, since our late moms (Helen Vela and Inday Badiday) were super close. So her triumphs and trials are mine, as well. That’s why I am more than proud of Cess for being part of the critically acclaimed movie, “Yellow Rose” (YR), which will open the 42nd Asian American International Film Festival in New York on July 25.
Hopefully, it will also be screened in Manila. YR is bound to hit the heart of every Pinoy with an American Dream, bull’s-eye.
The movie about Filipino-American immigrants bagged the Grand Jury Prize at the 35th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Bentonville Film Festival and CAAMFest 37.
Aside from Cess, the film stars Lea Salonga, Eva Noblezada, Dale Watson, Liam Booth, Gustavo Gomez (of “The Walking Dead”) and Libby Villari (“Boyhood”).
Kudos, Sis Cess! Keep blooming like a yellow rose.
Here’s my chat with Cess:
What was it like working with an American crew? Everyone was excellent in it, especially director of photography August Thurman. Almost all scenes were shot with a handheld cam using available light. The result was amazing.
It’s hard to compare an American and Pinoy crew because the process and equipment are different. But just like Pinoys, the American crew moves fast. Strictly eight hours shooting only, or else there will be overtime charges.
What was it like working with Lea? Too bad, I had no face-to-face scene with Lea. We only had a scene where we were connected through a video chat. But I was there when they shot emotional scenes of Lea with Eva. I could only hear Lea’s powerful singing voice, which made me and the crew tear up.
What was it like being with Lea off-cam? Lea and I swapped motherhood stories and talked about stuff that keep us busy. I admire her a lot. She has managed to balance her career and personal life, and she excels at both.
What are your realizations after doing YR? Love and support, especially from the family, are important ingredients to help a challenged person overcome difficulties and succeed.
Tell us the latest about your daughter. Ellie definitely has talent, and she wants to be a performer. While I was memorizing my lines, she asked me why I was talking to myself. I explained that I was practicing for my “acting class.” She wanted to participate.
So, I told Ellie the lines of my co-actor, and she threw lines with me. It blew me away because she’s a natural! Right away, I felt very protective of her. I told myself, “She has to study first. She can do whatever she wants after she finishes schooling.”
Why should Filipinos watch YR? All Pinoys know someone who had emigrated to the US. The movie shows what happens if an undocumented immigrant gets caught by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It is informative, but delivered through drama and music. But the unique thing about this movie is that it is not just “Filipino,” it’s also American because of the music and issues being tackled in the movie.
If you could bring your mom (Helen Vela) back to life for a day, how would you spend it? We would go on a picnic with my husband and daughter on Santa Monica Beach. I will update her about my life. I would ask for her advice and opinion. I would tell her how grateful I am for all the sacrifices she did for me and my brothers, for all the lessons she taught us and for who she has been to so many people, who now treat us well because of the respect they have for her.
I would hold her for a long, long time because that opportunity of being with her is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I miss her so much, and I just wish I could at least pick up the phone and call her now.
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