After working with popular comedienne Pokwang in the 2011 The Filipino Channel (TFC) drama movie A Mother’s Story, director John-D Lazatin knew he wanted to be on set with the talented spitfire once again.
And so, when US-based writer Noel Nuguit pitched a story about an unconventional family living in San Francisco’s Bay Area—comprised of an American father and his Filipino step children—Lazatin also knew the character of eldest daughter Edsa Woolworth had to be tailor-fitted to the lovable Pokie.
“I’ve always loved working with comedians and light hearted actors, but why choose Mamang [Pokwang] again for this TFC movie?” Lazatin began at the Edsa Woolworth’s press conference on Thursday, “Kasi itong komedyanteng ito, laging nakangiti pero malalim at may pinag-dadaanan. A director will guide but a talented actor, laging ‘yang may idadagdag, at ganoon si Mamang. This concept was really custom made for her and no one else.”
As Edsa Woolworth, Pokwang is the older sister of talented thespian Ricci Chan’s Boni Woolworth—the step children of Papa Frank Woolworth who had married their late Filipino mother. Now both immigrants, they are left to deal with the travails of a family that go beyond the boundaries of language, race, culture, and even blood.
“Buhay Amerika na sina Edsa at Boni, and doon, you create your own family and community,” Lazatin continued. “Some resist being Americanized, and yon ang issue ni Edsa. She will face with dilemma on how to reconcile the desires of her heart and the unconditional love she feels for her family.”
“Kung ano ang pinagdadaanan ni Edsa, ganun din ang pinagdadaanan ko ngayon,” Pokwang took over. “Habang kailangan niyang alalahanin ang sarili niya, pamilya pa rin niya ang inuuna niya at aalagaan niya si Papa Frank na may Alzheimer’s [disease], tulad ng sarili kong nanay ngayon.”
Edsa Woolworth initially had a run in the US and Canada in November 2014, earning rave reviews. It is therefore a must-see film with a reportedly standout performance from Pokwang that offers the right blend of drama and comedy.
Besides Lazatin, Pokwang’s co-actors, especially American cast members Lee O’Brian (Frank Woolworth) and Stephen Spohn (Edsa’s American boyfriend). Both acknowledged the Filipina actor’s versatility and how they very much enjoyed working with her.
For her part, Pokwang, like many other Filipino actors who experience working with foreigners was impressed with O’Brian and Spohn’s brand of professionalism.
“Iba talaga, and hindi lang sa pagiging professional nila, pero malilim din ang hugot na nakuha ko sa kanila,” she added.
Besides the exchange of talent in the movie, Lazatin guarantees that moviegoers will love Edsa Woolworth for its universal message.
“It ultimately answers the question, who is your family,” he explained. “And ang sagot ng pelikula sa tanong na iyon ay kung sino ang minamahal mo at minamahal ka in return, ‘yon ang pamilya mo.”
Edsa Woolworth—a powerful, dramatic film produced by The Filipino Channel (TFC) for its 20th anniversary—will be released by Star Cinema as its first offering for 2015 on January 14.