Having belonged to a prominent political family, the tagline of Denise Laurel’s new movie Magtanggol, could not be more fitting.
Opening on June 8, the movie that chronicles the life of Senator Juancho Magtanggol and the powerful Magtanggol political clan tries to ask “Ano ba ang meron sa apelyido ng isang tao at kinakailangan mong pangalagaan at ingatan ito?”
Laurel is the granddaughter of former vice president Salvador “Doy” Laurel who served under former President Corazon Aquino while her great grandfather is Jose P. Laurel, the president of the Second Philippine Republic.
“I grew up having my grandfather around. I’ve seen the hardships that he has gone through for the love of this country. Naakusahan siya ng maraming bagay na hindi naman niya ginawa. Pati yung great grandfather ko, for the love of the country, kahit anong sabihin pa nila tungkol sa kanya, he would stand firm [to his beliefs]. One of the reasons why I said yes to this is because I missed them both and doing this greatly reminded me of them,” Laurel told reporters during her movie’s press conference.
In the movie, Laurel plays Susan Del Rosario, a lawyer that helps abused overseas Filipino workers (OFW) through the labor group, Migrante.
“I was very much so inspired by Migrante workers, they don’t make that much money and most the time, they get money from their own pocket just to help the OFWs. Talking to people that worked in Migrante, really inspired me and showed me the importance of loving your country,” Laurel affectionately talked about her character.
Despite the intensified love for the country since doing Magtanggol Laurel said, that just like the rest of her family she has no inkling in entering politics. She cited her family’s stand on helping the country without denying the trauma they experienced from the time of Doy Laurel’s failed Presidential bid in the 1992 elections.
“Sa pamilya namin, napansin niyo walang tumatakbo. Kasi para sa amin, hindi mo kailangan ng posisyon. Oo medyo na-trauma kami dun sa nangyari sa lolo ko and my great grandfather but, for us, it has always been our family motto na ‘ang bayan higit sa lahat.’”
That was taught to us from the moment we were born and that’s what our family would say until we die.
Despite her family’s absence in the political seen, the Laurels are thriving in different fields, more prominently in the art and entertainment arena. There’s Singer and actor Cocoy Laurerl, singer and theater and TV actor Franco Laurel, fashion designer Rajo Laurel, TV host Patty Laurel and General Luna front woman Nicole Laurel Asensio, among others.
What propels each Laurel in public consciousness, the Magtanggol actress said, lies in the way they were brought up.
“I think the reason why everybody makes their own mark is because, in our family, nobody is spoiled. Kung hindi siya need at want lang siya, paghirapan mo. So hindi kami laking yaya, hindi de-driver, hindi kami ma-alahas, at ma-kotse, although people think of me otherwise because of the roles that I play,” Laurel told The Manila Times.
“Lahat kami cowboy—kahit saan mo kami ilagay sa buong mundo, magsu-survive kami kasi resourceful, very cowboy. Tinuruan kami. As a result, everybody, whatever they have, they worked hard for it,” the singer-actress added.
And with the fulfillment she gets now from her chosen field in acting, Laurel said running for government office is out of the question.
“Wala talaga akong balak kahit ilang beses po nila ako tanungin, di po talaga. Kasi sa tingin ko, I didn’t go to school for it. Sa tingin ko po unfair sa mga taong lumaki dito sa Pilipinas, nagbabayad ng tax at naghihirap para umasenso ang bansa natin. Tapos magiging official ako na hindi ako abogado, hindi ko inaral ang government? Parang unfair naman.
What she promises is to be the best she can be as a private citizen.
“In my own way, I will do my best. I will give my tithing tuwing may sweldo ako. I will continue to work with charities, I will continue to work to inspire people by trying to be the best citizen and person I could be. You don’t have to be a politician to do that,” Laurel ended.