Is a human life just worth 20 pesos nowadays?
This is what the film Bente will aim to uncover. This movie, which opens on July 8, features the parallel stories of two men who are willing to die for their beliefs. Their lives will intersect as both protagonists attempt to escape the evil elements that want to silence them forever.
Arni Guerrero (Jinggoy Estrada) is a radio commentator who is unafraid of exposing the anomalies of their mayor (played by Emilio Garcia). Also fighting for his life in this film is Mervin (Aldred Gatchalian), a young activist who wants to balance his love for country with his love for his girlfriend Riz (played by Glaiza de Castro).
Who among them will be a martyr for their beliefs?
Directed by Mel Chionglo with a script by Ricky Lee, this action-thriller was graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board.
The premiere night of Bente held at the Podium last July 2 was graced by the stars of the film, their friends and family members as well as noted Filipino directors. Richard Gomez arrived at the venue with his wife Lucy Torres while Jinggoy Estrada arrived solo. Other stars of Bente who attended that night were Snooky Serna, Emilio Garcia, Aldred Gatchalian, Mikee Lee and Ryan Eigenmann. Sid Lucero, Bobby Andrews and Anjo Yllana also attended the premiere night in support of the film. Filmmakers Dante Nico Garcia, Joel Lamangan, and Gil Portes were also there to watch the movie co-produced by APT Entertainment and the Directors Guild of the Philippines.
After the initial screening of Bente, the stars proceeded to Florabel's restaurant for some quality bonding time.
This movie marks the first time that Richard Gomez has starred in an independently produced film. "First time kong mabasa yung script, sabi ko kay Direk Mel, hindi mo ko kailangang pilitin," Richard recalls.
When asked to describe his role in the film, he points out, "Ang character ko dito, medyo strong ang dating. Tahimik pero deadly. Lumbaga ‘silent waters run deep.'"
As Ramon, he is torn between fulfilling his duty as a bodyguard of the mayor (Emilio) and finding out the dark secret that his wife (played by Iza Calzado) is hiding.
It is interesting to note that Direk Mel Chionglo showed Aldred and Glaiza leading rallies while actual footage of known activists such as Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casino are incorporated in the film.
Aldred did not find it difficult to shoot the rally scenes because Direk Mel was there to assist him all the way. He was actually more wary of the sexy scenes that he would be doing with his love team partner.
"Nang ibigay sa akin ang script, alam ko nang may eksenang kailangang ipakitang naka-underwear lang ako. Kinausap ko lang si Direk Mel, kasi may mga bawal na gawin ko. Nagtiwala ako na hindi niya ako pababayaan. At saka yung magawa lang maayos ang mga eksena, at nagawa namang maayos.
"Happy ako. In good taste talaga lumabas. At saka okay si Glaiza na katrabaho. Simple lang siya sa mga eksena namin. Nag-uusap kami sa set at masaya naman," says the Star Magic talent.
JINGGOY MISSES DOING ACTION FILMS. Senator Jinggoy Estrada says that his role in Bente is not that far removed from his real persona.
"First time kong gumanap na radio commentator. Pero hindi na rin ako bago dahil meron din naman akong radio program [Boses ng Masa].
He also pointed out the similarities
that he shared with his character in the film. "Alam mo, bilang isang miyembro
ng oposisyon, tapos ‘yong role ko galit dun sa administrasyon so halos
identical and parallel ‘yong ating role bilang isang artista, bilang isang
brodkaster dun sa pelikula at sa tunay na buhay."
Did he have any particular broadcaster in mind when he portrayed his role?
"Pinagsama-sama ko na dahil marami din tayong idol bilang radio commentator. Nandiyan si Mike Enriquez [of GMA-7], nandiyan sina Anthony Taberna [of ABS-CBN]. So, lahat yun pinagsama-sama ko."
What does he consider as his most
memorable scene in the Bente?
"Well, ‘yong habulan. Namiss ko na yung action films, yung mga barilan. Kasi, perfect na sa 'kin kasi pumayat na ‘ko eh. Pwede na ‘ko uli tumakbo," declares the government official who has visibly lost weight.
SINE DIREK BATCH 2? Aside
from Direk Mel Chionglo, the other directors who participated in Sine Direk
were: Joel Lamangan (Fuschia), Soxy Topacio (Ded na si Lolo),
Lore Reyes (Litsonero), Peque Gallaga (Agaton & Mindy), and
Maryo J. delos Reyes (Kamoteng Kahoy).
Now that the six entries of Sine Direk have already been completed, PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) asked Mr. Tony Tuviera of APT Entertainment for his reaction on the films produced this year.
"Napaka-happy in a way na, kahit pa sabihin na hindi masyadong [financial] success, ‘di ba, parang nagulo ‘yung industriya. Parang, ‘bakit ginawa ito?' ‘bakit pinanood ng mga tao?' Lalo na ‘yung Ded na si Lolo, hanggang ngayon tumatakbo pa sa mga probinsya."
of the success of Ded na si Lolo, Mr.
Tuviera says that they are open to the possibility of making a sequel to the comedy
film about a family dealing with the death of their patriarch.
Does APT have plans to holding another Sine Direk film series next year? "Hindi ko pa alam dahil we have to create some funds dahil medyo mabigat. Saka mahirap na anim [na films]. We'll try."
When asked to name his favorite film among the six entries, Mr. Tuviera declined to pick just one. "Ayokong magsabi ng personal favorite. But sa mga tao, because of the rich culture of Filipinos, ‘yong Ded na si Lolo [ang crowd favorite]"Bente was originally scheduled to be screened last June 24 but it was moved to July 8, 2009. Mr. Tuviera explained why they decided to move the play date of the movie.
"As much as possible nga, ‘di ba, ‘pag may makakasabay, umiilag na kami para... Kasi, ang main aim nung series was to help the industry. E, kung parehong Tagalog movie maglalaban pa, we're not really helping each other."
Among the six films of Sine Direk, four entries were graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board. These are Bente, Ded na si Lolo, Agaton and Mindy as well as Kamoteng Kahoy. The movie Litsonero starring Paolo Contis and Karylle was given a grade of B. The producers lacked the time to submit the entry Fuschia to the Cinema Evaluation Board to be given a grade. Starring Gloria Romero, Fuschia also tackled political issues but shown from the perspective of a female.
Bente will be screened starting July 8, 2009 in selected cinemas of SM and Robinsons.