Indie film "Nars" captures the realities of Filipino nurses


(From left) Coco Martin, Jodi Sta. Maria, Jennylyn Mercado,and Jon Avila are nursing students who represent the aspirations of manyFilipinos for a better life. They interact with a community in direneed of care in the movie Nars, directed by Adolf Alix, Jr.


Should I stay or should I go? This is the question facingmost Filipino nurses nowadays. This will also be the question that the upcomingmovie Nars will attempt to answer.

Jennylyn Mercado, Jodi Sta. Maria, Agot Isidro, Coco Martin,and Jon Avila portray five graduating nursing students who are at a crossroads intheir lives and their careers. Their different stories are a cross-section ofsociety's nurses. Each character reflects the Pinoy's aspirations, motives,realities, ambivalence, and fears in becoming a nurse.

During the story conference for Nars held lastSeptember 20 at the Thompson Square on Tomas Morato Ave, Q.C., the actors and producersof the movie talked about the country's perennial brain drain.

The film's executive producer Carl Balita explained, "Ito pong film na ito ang magbibigay ng mukha sa iba't ibangtao na nangangarap na maging nurse. Sila ang magbibigay sagot sa maramingtanong kung bakit tila lahat ng pamilyang Pilipino gustong magkaroon ng isangnurse.

"We'd liketo create a more positive image of nurses. I'd like to tell you that Filipinonurses are the best nurses in the world. They also constitute the biggestnursing force in the world. ‘Yan po ang yaman ng Pilipinas.

"Gusto ring ipakita ng film ang realities and socio-economicsituation of the Philippines. Maraming issues ang tutugunan ng film, includingdomestic violence, gender discrimination in the Philippines, at iba pa."

How did they choose the cast members of Nars?

Director Adolf Alix, Jr. narrated, "Noong na-develop po yung material at nag-uusap-usap kungsino ang gaganap, si Jennylyn po talaga ang naisip namin to play the role ofEla kasi nakita po namin sa present actors, [she] would best fit the material.Lahat naman po sila first choice para sa pelikula."

How did the characters prepare for the roles as nursingstudents?

"Binigyan kami ng reviewer ni Kuya Carl," reveals Jennylyn Mercado."Siyempre, yung kilos, saka nagtatanong kami kung ano ang dapat gawin. May mgathings na ginagamit ang nurse. Ano ba ang dapat isuot? Ano yung hindi dapat,simple things na makakatulong rin sa movie para ma-portray namin nang maayos yungrole."

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As for Jodi Sta. Maria, she says that being around realnurses helped prepare her for this role. "Bukod sa reviewer na dapat basahin,nakatulong rin sa akin na ang best friend ko ay isang nurse. Nakita ko siyangnag-aral, nakita ko siyang nagtatrabaho. Bumibista ako sa hospital kung saansiya nag-duty. Nagkaroon na ako ng idea even before pa ma-offer sa akin itongrole na ito."

The other female lead character is played by Agot Isidro. Sheadmits that she also drew upon her own personal experiences for this role."Exposed ako sa nurses because when my dad was in the hospital, ang tagal niyasa hospital kaya alam ko na iba ang ICU nurse from the emergency nurse. Meronakong overview sa different nurses."

The movie Nars will show the crucial decisions to bemade by the lead characters. "For all of them, it's a coming-of-age forall of them kasi yung pag-immerse nila sa mundong hindi sila familiar, dun nilamatututunan kung ano yung route na gusto nilang tahakin later on sa pagigingisang nurse," summarizes Adolf.

NARS (2007)

With a majority of nurses opting to work abroad rather thanstay in the Philippines, Nars aims to present the advantages anddisadvantages of working for one's homeland.

The five lead characters belong to one study group whoimmerse themselves in a community before they can graduate. As they work on their lastyear as nursing students, they meet people who make them realize not only theirroles as ordinary nurses but as Filipino nurses.

Director: Adolf Alix, Jr.

Screenplay: Agnes de Guzman

Production Company: Carl & Carl Productions

Executive Producer: Carl Balita

Line Producer: Carlo Maceda

Cast: Jennylyn Mercado, Jodi Sta. Maria, Coco Martin, JonAvila, Jaclyn Jose, Allan Paule, Jeffrey Hidalgo, and Joseph Bitangcol

Ela (Jennylyn Mercado) comes from an impoverished buthappy family (composed of Jaclyn Jose, Allan Paule, Jeffrey Hidalgo, and JosephBitangcol). Each member makes sacrifices to support her education. In return,Ela sets aside her dreams and takes the course her family chose for her.

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Adrinne's (Jodi Sta. Maria) parents are both workingabroad. Her mother is a caregiver in Canada while her father is an engineer inDubai. Thus, they provide her with all the money and material things but failto give her what she truly longs for—their love and their presence. She, too,wants to work abroad but aims to work in Australia to spite her parents.

Marissa (Agot Isidro) is single and a doctor byprofession. Her whole family migrated to the U.S. many years back. She wasleft behind because she was already over-age when their petition arrived. Now,Marissa wants to join them through legal means. With a heavy heart, she givesup her medical profession and takes up nursing. Marissa is involved in a wrongrelationship. Leaving the country will also spell a new start for her. Sherepresents the story of doctors who take up nursing in pursuit of the Americandream.

Liam (Jon Avila) dreams of becoming a nurse. His parentsare Filipinos who are U.S. citizens. They send him to the Philippines becauseeducation is much cheaper here. Liam learns more than the course he pursues.He discovers his roots and meets Ela, the love of his life.

Noel (Coco Martin) is gay and proud of it. Heenrolled in nursing because it is the "in" thing to do. He soon comes to lovethe profession, especially since it will become his key to becoming a "blushingbride" someday. He intends to apply in Europe where gay marriages are allowed.

Nars is a major film independently producedby Carl & Carl Productions. It is expected to premiere on October 24, intime for the Philippine Nurses' Convention in Cagayan de Oro, which will beattended by around 2,000 nurses.


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