Sisters Ana and Ina Feleo finally got to watch their mother Laurice Guillen’s directorial debut, Kasal, 36 years after it was first shown in cinemas. They were not born yet at that time.
Today, Ana, 35, and Ina, 30, both appear in GMA-7 shows, the former in the hit primetime fantasy series Encantadia and the latter in the now defunct afternoon soap Hanggang Makita Kang Muli.
They were among those who joined Laurice in the special screening of the digitally restored and remastered version of Kasal at the U.P. Town Center in Quezon City.
Kasal’s restoration work is a project of ABS-CBN Film Archives in partnership with Central Digital Lab. Its special screening was in line with the fourth edition of QCinema International Film Festival.
“I was so proud kasi during that time din, ang mga contemporary directors niya ay mga bigatin,” Ana told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) after the screening.
“I felt to inspired by this work kasi ang klaro na siya ang gumawa. It’s her sensibilities, it’s her tempo, it’s her passion, it’s her sensuality, it’s the way she thinks, it’s how quick—’yon bang babae…
“It’s so nice kasi. It’s amazing to watch kasi walang wall translating it into film. That’s what you call an obra. And during that time din, walang masyadong dikta ng producers.So napaka-pure ng work niya.
“And, I just realized, iba talaga ang generation of actors we had before na wala silang binibitawan. Nothing is dropped. Talagang buong-buo ang character nila, and they don’t have tricks, actor’s tricks, wala.”
Ina, in a separate post-screening interview, shared Ana’s admiration for the film and its filmmaker.
“Maganda siya and damang-dama mo ang beliefs niya,” she said. “It’s still her today. Kumbaga, when I talk to her, nakita ko ’yong mga sinasabi niya about passion… Ang galing niya talaga magpakilala ng characters. Ever since, feeling ko, expertise niya talaga mga character-driven na istorya. And it’s so grave, it’s so sensual.”
“I really like it,” Ina added. “Kahit today, feeling ko, ‘Wow! Tignan mo ’yong mga artista noong araw, sobra nilang tapang.’ Hindi dahil sa sensuality, ’yong… They really get into mga feelings na hindi gano’n katanggap ng society. Talagang pinortray nila as is, parang ’yong totoo lang.”
Kasal is about engaged couple Joel (Christopher de Leon) and Grace (Hilda Koronel), who are haunted by their respective past loves, the mysterious Lani (Chanda Romero) and the heartbroken musician Ernesto (Jay Ilagan). Joel and Grace make the ultimate decision in the end.
At the special screening, Direk Laurice waxed nostalgic about making her first movie in 1980. She was then 30 years old and at the time prime of her career as a respected and popular movie and TV actress best known for her superb performance in Lino Brocka’s film masterpiece Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang and in the top-rating soap opera Flor de Luna.
“I owe a lot to Mario O’Hara,” she said in a speech, referring to the late actor/writer/director who penned the story and script of Kasal.
Direk Laurice explained that Mario “encouraged me to direct my own film for the first time” by giving her a boxful of scripts, story concepts, and sequence treatments that he had written to start the ball rolling for her.
“I chose the one I thought, you know, the shoe that fits,” she recalled. “So here is Kasal.”
“And I cast the people that were friends of mine and colleagues in the movie industry, sila Christopher de Leon, so on and so forth,” she added.“Even those in the supporting or in the crowd scenes were friends of mine.”
Among those who did a cameo were her Tinimbang director Lino Brocka and her Flor de Luna castmates Dindo Fernando and Janice de Belen, who was then 10 or 11 years old.
“And it was this film where I saw for the first time myself,” Direk Laurice pointed out. She went on recounting the instance she watched Kasal’s raw footage, or what movie people call rushes.
“Seeing the rushes of Kasal was like giving birth for the first time,” she said in reflection. “And I will never forget what it was like to recognize yourself, to see yourself. It’s not just like seeing yourself in a photograph. But seeing what you’re like—your sensibilities and all of that.
“And I was so happy when it was shown. It was a commercial success, as well as a technical one. And, therefore, with this film, I was able to crash into the movie industry. And that’s how my [directing] career started.”
Laurice went on directing standout movies like Salome, Init sa Magdamag, Ipagpatawad Mo, Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story, and Tanging Yaman.
Her most recent work was the 2011 indie project Maskara, whose story is inspired by the life of her late husband, ace actor Johnny Delgado (real name: Juan Marasigan Feleo). Maskara served as the opening film in the 2011 edition of Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival. She is the president of Cinemalaya Inc.
On TV, Laurice has directed episodes of the drama anthology Magpakailanman and drama series like Akin Pa Rin ang Bukas, Once a Princess, and Hanggang Makita Kang Muli.
Among Laurice’s directorial works, her panganay, Ana, picks as her favorite the 1992 movie Lumayo Ka Man sa Akin, starring Richard Gomez, Gretchen Barretto, and Johnny Delgado.
“It’s very much my mom—sa sensibilities, sa passion, sa sensuality, and vulnerability,” Ana explained.“That’s what I love about my mother’s films, and not because I’m being biased or anything…
“She’s an actor, and a very deep and passionate actor, so naitra-translate niya sa lenguwahe ng pelikula. I always get excited to see her films, especially the earlier works na hindi pa talaga dictated siya ng what the production wants, what the producers want, o kung ano ang hinihingi ng audience. Mas may kapit kung ano ang vision ng director.”
Ina, on the other hand, expressed hesitation in having remakes of her mom’s past works.
“Ewan ko, kasi hindi ako masyadong ma-ano sa remake,” she reasoned. “Because I feel like bakit ka magre-remake kung pwede kang gumawa ng bago.”
She added, though, that she’d gladly portray a character similar to the ones from Laurice’s films. “Siguro any of the female characters parang ang sarap gawin, lalo na dito sa Kasal.”