After winning Best Screenplay for scriptwriter Archie Del Mundo and Best Lead Actress for Anna Luna at the Five Continents International Film Festival in Anzoategui, Venezuela on October 2, advocacy film “Maestra” is set to touch hearts of Filipinos on its commercial run in selected cinemas on Friday as part of CineLokal.
Maestra zooms in on stories of three teachers, each at different stages of their careers, but all demonstrating their commitment and dedication to a noble profession. As such, the movie proudly pays tribute to educators highlighted by their struggles and triumphs.
The script is primarily based on a viral post on Facebook about Iah Seraspi (portrayed by Luna), a fisherman’s daughter from Romblon who topped the board exams for teachers despite financial difficulties. Maestra will also feature inspiring real-life stories of Gennie Panguelo, an Aeta-Ilocana who taught in a school at the Pinatubo Valley for more than 25 years before finally passing the board on her 20th retake; and Espie Bautista (portrayed by veteran actress Gloria Sevilla), a former high school principal, college dean and a known inspiration speaker delivering entertaining poems on the spot. She is now more than 80 years old and still refuses to retire from teaching.
Gawad Urian Best Actress awardee Angeli Bayani portrays the role of Panguelo and religiously learned the Mag-Anchi Ayta language. In real-life, Panguelo has to traverse steep hills and valleys and cross a treacherous river, almost drowning one time just to go to an Aeta School in Sitio Tarukan, Tarlac.
“The whole shoot was physically challenging. But we were still lucky because we got to ride on a bus and a 4×4 truck. I just don’t understand how my character—Gennie Panguelo—walks for four hours everyday despite the rough roads and muds—imagine that,” Bayani at a press conference in Kamuning Bakery on Monday.
“Most people take teachers for granted, and we don’t know the sacrifices they make just to teach us. All of us know one or two teachers who become our favorites. This film is about them, they are huge parts of our lives and one of the reasons why we are here today,” she added.
Dr. Carl Balita, known for his review centers nationwide, produced the film to pay homage to teachers.
“While in other films teachers are only secondary to the story, here, the intention is tell the story of the teachers themselves. I want to give tribute to the most important professionals in the world—the teachers,” he said.
Directed by Lemuel Lorca, the film also includes a stalwart of acting luminaries such as Lou Veloso, Cinema One Best Actor Awardee Bong Cabrera, Lui Manansala, William Martinez, Yayo Aguila, Star Orjaliza, Paul Salas and Karl Medina.
Graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board, Maestra opens on December 8 in SM Cinemas of Megamall, Manila, Sta. Mesa, Mall of Asia, North Edsa, Fairview, Southmall and Bacoor.