“I’ll make my corrupt politician movie one day…” the contagiously optimistic young director Quark Henares told The Manila Times with a sheepish grin. He gave his word of honor as he segued into the premise of his latest film, My CandiDATE, which seems to hold as much promise as the usual socio-political movies the local movie industry has seen in past decades.
“It’s easy to be cynical about trapos [traditional politicians]especially with the elections coming up,” he added. “But to be fair, I personally know a number of politicians who really have the heart to help. So for a change, this movie shows the true public servant over the politician, amid a romantic-comedy.”
With that, Henares went into the roles of Derek Ramsay, Iza Calzado and Shaina Magdayao who are the big stars indeed of My CandiDATE—a joint production of Quantum Films, MJM Productions, Tuko Film Production and Butchi Boy, who are behind the critically-acclaimed romantic-comedies, English Only, Please and #Walang Forever, and of course the blockbuster historic biopic, Heneral Luna, among others.
The film—which also promises to “give the election season a romantic twist”—is about a political wannabe, Congressman Sonny Suarez (Ramsay), who is seeking a Senate seat with “a good heart.” The only problem is he has no social skills — that is, he lacks “charm and mass appeal” – which, especially in this side of the world, is vital in winning votes.
Another twist is that among the candidates running for the Senate, he is also up against his ex-girlfriend Vera Chavez (Calzado) who has all the charisma he sorely lacks.
Enter Billie Pono (Magdayao), a life coach and communications trainer, hired to help change Sonny’s image into a confident, well-spoken and likeable politician, who in the process also learns a thing or two from the public servant with a heart in achieving a better version of herself.
“Honestly, this all started out as a joke,” continued Henares. “A bunch of us, filmmakers were having drinks and we go, ‘O anong gagawing natin sa pitch tomorrow?’ And we came up with these really ridiculous ideas, like, ‘Ang Tipo Kong Katipunero, a rom-com,’ and all that.
“Then I go, how about ‘My CandiDATE,’ with ‘DATE’ in all caps… so were just laughing about it and I think on the way home, the character of Shaina came up—a life coach who cannot get her life together! And from there, everything else followed.”
Inspired by the fresh concept, Henares, whose most noted—took him an entire year to complete, finished the script for My CandiDate over the 2015 Christmas holidays.
“Thankfully, Atty. Jojie Alonso [Quantum Film’s lady boss] was excited by the story as well, especially since they’re known to be the day’s filmmakers who veer away from the formulaic kinds of movies often made in our industry.”
Alonso, however, surprisingly told The Manila Times that even with the film’s very timely message of weeding through the bad candidates to be able to vote for the good, she chose to show My CandiDATE after the elections on May 11.
“I thought it best to open after May 9 because beyond Quark’s premise, the movie is really a comedy that will give people a reason to laugh especially after this very gruelling and disheartening election season,” she explained.
For their part, Ramsay and Magadayao—who both assume very different roles in this movie from their usual ladies’ man and “ina-aping” characters, respectively—hope just as much as Henares that My CandiDATE will help Filipinos believe once again that there are still good people in public office.
The film also stars Al Tantay, Nico Antonio, Ketchup Eusebio, Ricci Chan, Jun Sabayton and Tirso Cruz 3rd in a special role, with Dan Villegas (director of English Only, Please and #Walang Forever) as creative producer.