Mike Liwag: I can’t imagine doing ‘Culion’ the movie without Jasmine Curtis-Smith
To prepare for his role in Alvin Yapan’s historical film “Culion,” theater and film actor Mike Liwag opted to shut himself off from the world and stayed at a rented apartment for a week.
“The people working on ‘Culion’ don’t know this, but I rented an Airbnb unit for a week to isolate myself. I just kept reading the script and about Culion the island. As this happened, a lot of thoughts and emotions came to me.”
Mike added: “The input that Direk Alvin gave overwhelmed me. I was overflowing with emotions that there were times when it was hard for me to let go of the character. Just so I could detach from Jaime, my coactors, like Iza (Calzado), would hug me to calm me down and keep me from sobbing.”
While the other cast members were very helpful, Mike said it was from Jasmine Curtis-Smith, who plays his love interest, that he drew so much strength from.
“I couldn’t imagine doing the movie without her. We follow the same process in assuming our characters,” Mike said. “There was this priceless moment when we stared at each other’s eyes, held hands, then hugged. And just like that, we were in sync. We felt each other’s energy. It was amazing!”
Mike considers being part of “Culion,” written by Ricky Lee, as his biggest acting break so far. It is one of eight entries in the 2019 Metro Manila Film Festival.
“I feel restless and nervous. I want this to reach as many audiences as possible,” he declared. “It’s because this is an advocacy film.”
Looking back at what happened to him in 2019, Mike said the experience had been a roller-coaster of emotions. “I learned a lot from it,” he shared with the Inquirer.
“On top of my other projects are my personal struggles. There were times when I wanted to give up acting, and then I get offered a really exciting project, so I’m happy again,” he observed. “But comparing it to 2018, I felt more fulfilled as an actor this year.”
Aside from promoting “Culion,” Mike is busy preparing for the stage production “Under My Skin,” which will also feature Cherry Pie Picache.
The play, directed by Melvin Lee and produced by Peta (Philippine Educational Theater Association), will run for a month in February.
“It’s similar to ‘Culion’ in the sense that it is also about awareness, this time, of the existence of HIV and AIDS,” he explained.
Mike was at the Inquirer office in Makati City recently as part of the annual read-along festival, a two-day marathon storytelling session with kids age 6 to 12. He read Augie Rivera’s “Bisnesboy Minggoy” to some 70 kids from different private schools in Metro Manila.
“I was nervous at first. I told myself that these are kids and that it’s difficult to catch their undivided attention. I was able to put my theater acting skills to good use,” Mike recalled.
“I love being around kids, so I hope I’d get to do this again with the Inquirer. This, after all, is an advocacy, just like most of the projects I have been doing this past year,” Mike stressed.
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