Zoe Sandejas credits Laurice Guillen for honing her acting ability


Zoe Sandejas (in photo) played a rock band vocalist in the Cinemalaya 2009 entry Dinig Sana Kita. The Mike Sandejas film has been chosen to take part in the 36th Brussels International Independent Film Festival.


Ang 16-year-old na si Zoe Sandejas ang lead female actress ng Dinig Sana Kita (If I Knew What You Said). Dahil sa kanyang pagiging singkit, marami ang nagsasabing mukha siyang Korean telenovela actress.

Dahil sa kanyang pagganap bilang isang vocalist ng isang banda, naging idolo si Zoe ng mga kabatang manonood sa Cinemalaya Cinco na ginanap noong Hulyo 2009 sa Cultural Center of the Philippines at University of the Philippines Cine Adarna.

Si Zoe ay anak ng direktor ng pelikula na si Mike Sandejas. Si Direk Mike rin ang direktor ng Tulad Ng Dati na nagwaging Cinemalaya Best Picture para sa taong 2006.

Nang unang makausap ng PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) si Zoe Sandejas, excited siyang naglahad ng kanyang damdamin hinggil sa kakaibang atensiyon na natamo mula sa publikong manonood ng Dinig Sana Kita. Dinumog ng mga manonood ang CCP at ang UP Cine Adarna (which was standing-room only).

"Na-shock po ako! I'm not used to this kind of attention, kasi very quiet lang po ako, so na-shock lang po ako talaga.

"I'm thankful that people appreciated [the film]," sabi pa ng baguhang aktres.

Aware si Zoe na may "Korean telenovela" look ang Dinig Sana Kita na nagwagi ng Audience Choice, among other Cinemalaya '09 awards, namely Best Musical Score (for Francisbrew Reyes) at ng special (Kids Treat) award mula sa National Council for Children's Television.

Ang naging appeal ng pelikula ay ang pagtalakay nito sa kakaibang uri ng pagkakaibigan, between a hearing-impaired young man (a real-life portrayal by new discovery, Romelito "Rome" Mallari) and a free-spirited, troubled teenage rocker (played by Zoe Sandejas). Kita na mas universal ang theme na ito at hindi madalas makita sa mga Pinoy movies ngayon.

"Yung technicals po ni Daddy, he based it on Korean telenovelas... kasi, very emotional," banggit nga ni Zoe, na nagkuwento pa ng ibang kaugnay na detalye.

"Kami po ni daddy," she says, "yung bonding po namin... minsan, kunwari, free si daddy at free din po ako, manonood po kami ng Korean movies like yung My Sassy Girl."

At sa telebisyon, naging regular viewer din si Zoe ng mga nag-hit na Korean TV series like Meteor Garden... "dati po, nanonood din ako ng Stairway To Heaven, Full House."

At sa ngayo'y kasalukuyang teenage craze naman ang Boys Over Flowers. Bakit nga ba mukhang Koreana si Zoe Sandejas?

"Yung Chinese blood ko po 'ata 'yon," nakangiting sabi niya. "Actually, coincidence lang po 'ata 'yon..."

At hindi na napigilan ni Zoe ang tuluyang mapa-bungisngis. In person, she is bubbly and giggly, but a no-nonsense talker.

* * * * *

Lately, PEP also had the chance to meet with Zoe and her parents, dad Mike, and mom, May Sandejas, a petite Chinese-looking mestiza.

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Upon the invitation of Mr. Robert Malengreau, nakipag-dinner ang mag-anak sa kilalang director general ng Brussels International Film Festival. Kasama rin sa event na ito ang bidang young actor ng Dinig Sana Kita na si Rome Mallari at ang kanyang interpreter, si Ms.Giselle Montero, ng DLSU-College of Saint Benilde (Institute for Deaf Education).

Interesado si Mr. Malengreau na ipalabas ang Dinig Sana Kita sa Brussels, Belgium (specifically, sa festival section for films about the hearing-impaired or the deaf). Ang naturang film festival ay gaganapin mula Nobyembre 3-8, 2009.

(Click HERE to read related article.)

Mauuna rito ang pagpapalabas ng pelikula sa Toronto International Film Fest (Canada) sa Setyempre.

Ngayon pa lang ay excited na ang young actress, who wants to go with her dad to Canada and Belgium, kaugnay ng pagpapalabas doon ng pelikula.

"Sabi niya, hindi na niya kailangan ng visa, kasi U.S. citizen siya," natutuwang pagbanggit ng nanay ni Zoe. Kitang-kita na minana ni Zoe ang chinky eyes ng kanyang Mommy May, which explains why Zoe has "Korean" facial features.

* * * * *

Christened Zoe Katerina Sandejas, she is the eldest of the four daughters of Direk Mike and May Sandejas.

Her other siblings are Kira, 13; Maxene, 8; and Nova Mikaela (whose nickname is Nike), one-and-a-half.

"Si Maxene, she played the younger me (in Tulad Ng Dati)," kung saan in-introduce si Zoe, bilang movie actress.

Of her mom, Zoe says, "'Pag si daddy po may film, siya po 'yung executive producer."

Ang awareness ni Zoe sa pelikula ay nagmula rin sa kanyang parents, partikular sa kanyang amang direktor.

"When he started doing Tulad Ng Dati, du'n ko lang po na-realize na sobrang galing pala ni daddy, I'm really proud of my dad. Before po, when I was still a kid, sinasabi po ni daddy na 'yung focus namin, dapat, sa academics and extra-curricular activities. So we didn't really have time to get to know our parents well.

"When I entered high school po, du'n lang po kami nag-bonding ni daddy, kasi... pinagsama po niya 'yung work po niya 'tsaka 'yung mga activities. 'Yun na po 'yung bonding time; 'yun na po 'yung bonding namin."

Nasa ikaapat na taon sa high school (sa Woodrose, Alabang) si Zoe, at ini-enjoy ang pagiging isang artista sa pelikula, na aniya'y hindi niya naging ambisyon noon.

"It was the last thing I really wanted to do... kasi, wala po akong tiwala sa sarili ko. I don't act po in school," banggit pa ni Zoe.

But fate has a way of intervening, o dahil nasa dugo rin ng mga Sandejas ang showbiz. A second cousin of direk Mike (Manu Sandejas) is into showbiz; the husband of singer-actress, Agot Isidro, who was cast as female lead in Tulad Ng Dati.

"When we got close," Zoe adds, "that's when I realized I'm destined to be in dad's business.. "

Until she landed in her dad's second film as lead actress, everything was fun and games for Zoe.

"Nakakatakot po, kasi I didn't know what to expect... and, well, my experience... this being my first (lead role), nakakatakot po talaga. But I'm just thankful that everybody likes it."

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Bilang daddy niya, at direktor din (para sa unang sinalihang Tulad Ng Dati; at pinagbidahang Dinig Sana Kita), Zoe has very good words for Mike Sandejas.

"Well, strict po siya [as a father]. For example, 'pag mababa 'yung grades namin. Typical dad naman po, who supports everything that we do," she says.

Apart from acting, the 16-year old looker is also an athlete-in-the-making, as she is currently into taekwondo. Direk Mike says her eldest daughter is a black-belter who trained under Jobeth Morales of the Ateneo Taekwondo Team.

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"Strict po siya, kasi 'pag tinatamad ako mag-training, papagalitan niya ako," she reveals. Sasabihin daw ni direk Mike, "(mag)-training ka!"

Ala-Toni Rivero (TKD Olympian) na ba siya ngayon? O gusto ba niyang ma-develop o ma-train din bilang atleta ng taekwondo, para sa Asian Games, o Olympics, balang araw?

"Ah, hindi naman po ako ganu'ng kagaling!" at muling napa-bungisngis si Zoe. "Dream ko po 'yon... (or), actually, dati dream ko po 'yon. Pero ngayon, parang nai-stress po ako.

"I mean, love ko po ang taekwondo, kasi, first of all, exercise po 'yon," sabi pa niya.

Kanino mas close si Zoe, sa mommy o sa daddy niya?

"Pareho lang po," sagot niya. "Tag team po si momy, 'tsaka si daddy."

* * * * *

Bungisngis at masayahin, walang dudang may happy childhood and early teenage life si Zoe Sandejas. Bagay na nakakapagtaka kung paano nito nagampanan nang buong husay ang papel ni Nina, na isang troubled teenager who's into rock music, in Dinig Sana Kita.

"Well..." at bumungisngis uli si Zoe. "Opo, masaya po ang childhood ko, and, well, one of the things we do is pelikula, so fun po talaga."

Ano ang naging motivation niya sa pagganap sa naturang papel?

"Kasi po, itinuro sa akin ni Mrs. Guillen [Direk Laurice Guillen, her facilitator]; I took po kasi a workshop, sabi po niya, 'think of a memory, na puwede mong i-connect sa scene'. .."

Anong memory (o memories) ng kanyang childhood, or early adulthood, ang nai-connect niya sa ginawang (mga) eksena?

"Yung mga memory po, na nako-connect ko sa scene, 'yung mga pelikula po na napapanood ko dati..."

Hindi sa personal na karanasan, kundi sa mga napanood niyang pelikula o tauhan, kumuha ng motibasyon ang baguhan sa ginawang pag-arte.

Kahit na hindi naging fan ng Pinoy movies si Zoe noong kanyang kabataan, natutong siyang mag-appreciate sa mga ito habang siya'y nagdadalaga.

"Actually, I appreciate Filipino films, kasi it's something to be proud of," sabi niya. "I got interested po watching Filipino films when I was in second year high school, after Tulad Ng Dati...

"Before po, kasi, hindi po ako namamansin ng kahit ano'ng pelikula," sabi rin ni Zoe, as she giggles.

Natuto raw siyang manood ng Pinoy movies, sa pamamagitan ng Cinema One. But it's still Hollywood movies that have remained her favorites, having grown up with the likes of The Lord of the Rings trilogy...

"And Star Wars po, Indiana Jones, Batman," masayang banggit pa ni Zoe.

* * * * *

Any upcoming plans, after Dinig Sana Kita?

"Kung may offer po, I'm gonna have to talk to my daddy first, kasi father knows best," sabi ni Zoe.

Wala siyang kongkretong plano, hinggil sa pag-arte (sa pelikula man o sa TV) dahil tulad ng ibang kasing-edad niya'y sa pag-aaral naka-focus ang isipan ni Zoe.

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"Cinemalaya is fun... it's one of the experiences that I'll never forget!" Zoe enthuses. "After this, I'll still focus po on my studies, and passing the college exams..."

Kaka-take lang din ni Zoe ng admission test ng University of the Philippines. where she hopes to take up Interior Design.

"Creative siya, mahilig siyang mag-drawing, at gumawa ng doodles," sabi pa ng kanyang mommy.

And a promising actress, at that.

"I treat it [acting] po as a hobby... not really a career. I'm just enjoying it," sabi pa ni Zoe, bilang pangwakas.


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