MMFF entry may be Noel Trinidad’s ‘last hurrah’
Despite his “very bad hearing problems,” Noel Trinidad, ever the consummate professional, soldiered on and finished shooting the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry “Family Matters.”
But this film, he said, could be his “last hurrah.”
“Baka kasi pagkatapos nito, wala nang kumuha sa ‘kin,” the veteran actor told the Inquirer at a recent press conference. “I said that this could be my last hurrah because of my hearing issues. But should this movie end up becoming my last, then I can proudly say that it’s a terrific one.”
The 81-year-old actor has had a fruitful decades-long career that encompassed the stage, television and film. He was also part of iconic shows, including the comedy gag show “Champoy” and the sitcom “Abangan ang Susunod na Kabanata.”
Looking back, Noel said he couldn’t ask for anything more. “I’m happy with how my life turned out. I don’t have any regrets. I feel happy and proud of whatever I have attained. Anything beyond that is just extra,” he said.
Noel is now at a point in his life and career where he no longer feels the need for a consistent stream of job offers. But he will be open, he said, to scripts and concepts that speak to his heart. “I want to make sure that the material is something I love—hindi ‘yung basta makagawa lang,” he said.
“I don’t feel the need to make movies anymore but if I’m presented with a good story, then of course I would consider it,” he added.
“Family Matters” is just that. Produced by Cineko Productions and directed by Nuel Naval, the intimate family drama revolves around a senior married couple, Francisco (Noel) and Eleanor (Liza Lorena). They have four children: Kiko (Nonie Buencamino), the successful son; Fortune (Mylene Dizon), the homemaker; Ellen (Nikki Valdez), the unmarried daughter; and Enrico (JC Santos), the happy-go-lucky youngest kid. All is well in the family until Ellen, who serves as the frail Francisco’s primary caregiver, decides to fly to the United States for a chance at love. In Ellen’s absence, Eleanor and the remaining siblings—now fraught with anxiety—take turns looking after their father, who wants to be taken care of only by family. “My character’s main concern is for my family to be united despite the problems we’re facing,” he related. “After reading the script, I immediately thought, ‘I have to do this.’”
The movie also touches on aging and the challenges that come with it, both physically and mentally. “People will see you as old, but in your mind, you’re not. So you try to walk as briskly as possible, even if it’s hard, because you don’t want people thinking that you’re old,” Noel said. “Pride is definitely part of it, of not wanting people to see you as such. But it’s something that you also have to accept,” he said.
Meanwhile, when teased if he and Liza have kissing scenes in the movie, Noel quipped, ‘With tongue!” Clearly, Noel’s comedic flair hasn’t waned one bit. “My wife is very supportive of me and gets along with Liza well,” said Noel, who every so often gave Liza smacks on the lips during the press conference. “Get a room!” his costars cried.
“Good thing my wife isn’t the jealous type, because she knows hindi ako magloloko… nang madalas,” he, said drawing laughter.
As he expected, his hearing loss proved to be his biggest challenge on the set. But with the guidance of his director and patience of his costars, Noel still managed to give his best and get the job done.
“The director would come to us to explain the scene, and once he turns away, I turn to my coactors and ask, “Ano raw?” And it actually became a running joke,” Noel said, laughing. “But that’s where you see the camaraderie among us actors. They were all so patient and helpful. We really were like a family.”
Noel was particularly grateful to Direk Nuel—his “semi-tukayo” who provided him with the “ammunition” to pull off the demanding scenes. “He’s a very quiet director, but he guides you well. You’re left trying to figure out things on your own. Nuel will explain what the scenes are about, what went before it and what will go after. He explains your character’s relationship with the others in the scene. He doesn’t tell how to act; rather, he gives you the ammunition to fulfill his vision.”
It also helped that the set was a fun one. “It’s one of the most pleasant sets I have been on. During breaks, people would start to dance. It was a terrific crew. It was such a challenging project, but we were all so happy,” Noel said. “Liza and I spent our breaks singing old songs. And the younger actors would come and dance.”
The movie’s trailer on Facebook now has 2.1 million views with social media users commenting that they couldn’t help but cry and think of their own families while watching it. “Because of the trailer people have been approaching me to shake hands with me or have photos taken with me. One time a big man came up to me and told me that he cried over the trailer… I’m thankful,” Noel said.
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