The Surfing Capital of the Philippines finally takes front and center in a full-length movie as noted director-producer Paul Soriano’s first Metro Manila Film Festival entry. Simply titled “Siargao,” it stars Asia’s Drama Prince Jericho Rosales, and popular actresses Erich Gonzales and Jasmine Curtis-Smith.
Considered a complete diversion from Soriano’s preference for biographies “Kid Kulafu (2015), “Thelma” 2011 and serious topics “Dukot” (2016), “A Journey Home” (2009), Siargao further sees the director in his first light romantic-drama and travel-themed work. The movie follows the story of a woman who tries to find, reinvent and rebuild herself in the beautiful island.
“It was very light [to shoot], very peaceful, and I really had the most fun shooting this film out of all my films,” Soriano related.
More than showcasing and promoting the beautiful island and its majestic tourist spots, the director also made sure to use the opportunity of a nationwide festival showing to create an awareness that the booming tourism spot that is Siargao needs environmental protection.
“Now that we have this voice and this media attention, we also want to make sure to put the message across that let’s take care of Siargao. Let’s take care of its beauty and its beaches. Let’s respect the locals and let’s not saturate it,” he explained.
Diego, Laura and Abby
Fresh from a public outburst and on the verge of quitting his band, 32-year old high-profile musician Diego Punzalan (Rosales) takes a trip to his province of Siargao to take a break from the public eye and rethink his career.
There, he meets 29-year old Laura Molina (Gonzales), a perky but sassy fashion and beauty vlogger. She had just been dumped by her longtime boyfriend, Mikey, from whom she declined a wedding proposal. She went to Siargao on a solo trip to nurse her broken heart and challenge her fear of risks and independence.
With tension and chemistry running high between the pair of lost souls, Diego challenges Laura to step out of her boundaries as they explore the place he once called home.
Meanwhile, returning to his hometown also means going back to face the issues Diego left behind, including Abi Williams (Curtis), his former Fil-Australian flame, the muse of many of his older love songs, and the girl with whom he shared a deep and heartbreaking history.
As such, in this small and secluded surf town where time moves slowly, and people come and go—sometimes, never leaving—the unlikely triangle of Diego, Laura, and Abi find themselves returning to their past decisions and mistakes while uncertain about the future that lies ahead.
Where the tides change quickly, and the ocean never stays still, they learn to take chances, and learn that, perhaps, commitment might be the biggest risk they will ever have to make.
Gonzales and Curtis shared how preparing for the movie went beyond the acting but also meant working on beach bodies.
“Pinaghandaan po talaga naming yan. Dumating ako sa punto ng buhay kona ‘kung hindi ko gawin ngayon, kailan pa?’ I mean I’m ready for it naman, hindi naman na po tayo bata pa,” said a very slim Curtis.
“Ever since naman posa teleserye kona ‘Katorse’, medyo mature na din naman po iyon. Ako naman lagi ko naman pong sinasabi na basta kasama po sa story, okay lang mag-flaunt ng konting skin,” she added.
Curtis on the other hand explained, “Basta komportabl ako sasarili kong katawan. Pag picture kasi pwede pang ianggulo, sa film mas conscious lang ako pero with this naman kasi, this is a story within the island, kaya I can’t argue my way out of that. It’s a commitment I had to make.”
Gonzales, for her part, also couldn’t be happier that she’s returning into the big screen after four years and with her first-ever title MMFF entry.
“Well it’s nice to be back and to do a movie na nakaka-excite itong story mismo. And then syempre yung setting niya, one of the most beautiful destinations in the country and swerte tayo napasali din siya sa MMFF,” she said.
Meanwhile, trying and getting rejected in the MMFF thrice, Director Soriano is happy he finally made it. And he is looking forward to one particular aspect of playing in the festival.
“Personally, I’m looking forward to finally having one of my films watched by a lot of people.Yun lang. Most if not all of the films I’ve done in the past, my audiences are very niche. It would be nice to see the cinema more than 50 percent full. Sanay akosa 10, 20 or 30 people lang watching my film,” he said.
Finally, Rosales said that they don’t aim to be on top but only hope that people will get to watch and appreciate the beauty of the film.
“Let’s face it, with the MMFF now, alam na natin kung ano ang Top 1 and 2. But we are proud of this film. We don’t even think about awards. Every project is an achievement already. And this is a great film. What’s not to like about people hanging out in the beach, with good acting, a good storyline? This is a film that you must see,” Rosales ended.