“My tears naturally fell when we shot the mass grave scene in Tacloban,” said award-winning actress Nora Aunor in Filipino as she talked about her latest movie Taklub this week.
Taklub, which presents the tragedy left behind by Super Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013, has been selected for screening under the Un Certain Regard section of the 68th Cannes International Film Festival, which will run from May 13 to 24. It is helmed by Cannes 2009 Best Director Brillante Mendoza and supported by climate change advocate Sen. Loren Legarda, who both joined the Superstar in announcing the movie’s inclusion in the prestigious invitation-only festival.
According to Mendoza, Aunor’s most notable scene was shot before the crack of dawn in Guian, Tacloban, and brought the entire cast and crew of Taklub to tears at the end.
“We then prayed for all those who died after the typhoon and for the families they left behind,” the director continued.
Aunor, plays a mother who loses three of her four children from the natural disaster. “Losing a child is painful, what more if you lose three and everything you have?” she asked. “I no longer needed instructions from Direk to cry in that scene.”
The actress took the opportunity to bring her audience’s attention to the continued plight of the people of Tacloban, who are still in need of help over a year later.
“It’s sad that despite all the help we received from other countries, many of our kababayans in Tacloban are still living in tents. Those who are in power should do something about this,” she declared.
Before Taklub, it will be remembered that Nora had participated at the Cannes Film Festival 34 years ago for her Lino Brocka movie Bona, produced under her own outfit NV Productions.
Bona was supposed to be running for the main competition at that time but Aunor admitted she ran out of money for the film’s subtitle so it only made the Directors’ Fortnight category.
She recalled, “I was not ready at that time [to attend]because of the lack funds but now, my gown and tickets are ready for the festival.”
Celebrating her 62nd birthday on May 21, Nora holds the distinction of being the only Filipino actress with films that have been shown in the world’s top three festivals: Cannes (Bona), Berlin (Himala) and Venice (Thy Womb).
Similarly, Taklub is Mendoza’s comeback in Cannes where he won Best Director for Kinatay in 2009.
“As a director, I just want to tell stories, winning an award is a bonus,” he said nonetheless. What he also deems more important is to be able to tell a story that has an important advocacy such as Taklub, which calls on its audience to take better care of the environment as well as raise the importance of disaster preparedness in these unpredictable times.
Legarda and Brillante have long been producing documentaries together on environmental protection, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction (DRR), among them Buhos, Ligtas, Philippine Marine Biodiversity and Antique: Coral Restoration Program.
After the devastation caused by Yolanda, the lady senator proposed the production of a full-length film that could be an effective medium to mainstream disaster prevention and preparedness. Mendoza agreed and got Aunor to be the lead star of the film.
“I didn’t know how director Mendoza would show my advocacy on climate change, but when he was done and I saw the movie, I was so amazed with his brilliance and creativity. I’m very impressed with the way he combined drama and DRR,” explained Legarda.
“The film features DRR measures in subtle ways like showing early warning systems, mangrove reforestation, preemptive evacuation, and designating no-build zones. We are bringing not only our best director and artists to Cannes, but also these lessons on preparedness and resilience, which hopefully would be heeded,” she elaborated.
Explaining the movie’s title, Mendoza explained, “Taklub is a metaphor for Tacloban, which came from the word taklub meaning cover. It is also used for catching fish.”
If asked where they were going, the fishermen would answer, “To tarakluban,” which meant the place where they use the taklub to catch crabs. Later, the name was shortened to Tacloban. Developed from a fishing village, it became a major trading town in the late 18th century and proclaimed a city on June 20, 1952.
Taklub is a production of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in cooperation with the Presidential Communications Operations Office-Philippine Information Agency.