Director Joey Reyes clarifies that the modern reincarnation of the 1984 Viva Films classic movie, Working Girls, is not remake but rather a "sequel" largely because there’s a sense of continuity from the original version.
Joey, who also wrote the screenplay, said that much has changed in society and Filipino attitudes since the turbulent ’80s. For one, the role of women—highlighted by the fact that we have had two women presidents—has drastically altered, and "along with it, their stories."
It is important to note that Working Girls, as shaped by scriptwriter Amado Lacuesta and legendary director Ishmael Bernal, was a socio-political film on the pre- and post-Martial Law days, masked by comedy-light drama.
Though the film achieved critical and commercial success when it was shown in ’84, the real significance of the movie, along with its merits, was gradually realized in the succeeding years, thus earning its place among local classic movies.
Viva Films turned down requests from television networks to have the film rights for boob tube adaptation, which is the trend nowadays.
Viva Films head honcho Vic del Rosario Jr. has always felt that Working Girls, as well as the coming-of-age film Bagets and some of Sharon Cuneta’s memorable films, remains untouchable and apt only for a modern sequel.
That Viva Films partnered with GMA Films and Unitel Productions to come up with an offshoot of the original material is another valid confirmation of Working Girls’ reputation.
TWENTY-FIVE YEARS LATER. The central characters of the new Working Girls are not confined only to the bustling district of Ayala Avenue in Makati City. Now, the women occupy diverse positions in different fields.
The contemporary Working Girls is composed of Eugene Domingo (Paula), Ruffa Gutierrez (Marilou), Eula Valdes (Cleo), Cristine Reyes (Wendy), Jennelyn Mercado (Ada), Iza Calzado (Tere), and Bianca King (Dara).
Paula (Eugene) is the daughter-in-law of Gina Pareño’s character (Nimfa of the original film) and is married to Antonio Aquitania’s role. A seller of fake bags through her Multiply site on the Internet, Paula will be tempted into carrying an affair with her delivery driver, portrayed by Ricky Davao.
Marilou (Ruffa) plays a beauty queen widow. The sudden death of her rich husband forces her to engage the relatives of her late hubby into a battle over inheritance.
Cleo (Eula) is the celebrity cosmetic surgeon who has earned the ire of a feminist activist named Rose, the same role played by Maribel Lopez in the 1984 film. Ironically, Rose used to be a receptionist who moonlighted as a prostitute.
Promo girl Wendy (Cristine) is constantly on the lookout for rich customers. She eventually finds someone to pursue in the person of a celebrity lawyer played by Rafael Rossel.
Ada (Jennylyn) is the illegitimate daughter of Sabel (played by original Working Girl, Rio Locsin) and who ends up being a single mother herself. As a call center agent, Ada eventually meets the boyfriend (played by Carlo Aquino) of Wendy.
Tere (Iza) is a nurse who is only waiting to be called for hospital work in Boston, U.S.A. She will find herself torn between her professional duties and personal life when she ends up nursing the wife of an ex-lover who hurt her in the past.
Dara (Bianca) is the spoiled brat of Cherie Gil’s character. She works as a segment producer in a television network where she faces the daily bitchiness of her co-workers, portrayed by Joey Paras, Andrea del Rosario, and Mylene Dizon.
The cast members, particularly the young ones, were not required by Direk Joey to watch the original film so as not to be influenced too much by their predecessors. Some, however, were able to watch the Ishmael Bernal film on television years back.
Bianca narrated, "Napanood ko po actually ’yong original movie kasi mahilig akong manood ng mga old movies. I was fortunate enough na mapanood siya sa TV before and isa siya sa mga movies na talagang naaalala mo and na-e-enjoy mo talaga. One of the characters that I really remember was the character of Direk Joel Lamangan [who portrayed the role of a pimp], who also reprises his role in this film."
She added, "I was just really honored and flattered to be a part of this movie because I have to audition for a role. It’s really humbling as an actress in my young six years in the business to be asked to audition for a role. I’m really very, very thankful."
Direk Joey understands Bianca’s excitement and anxiety. He revealed, "When the idea was first broached to me middle of last year by Tony Gloria [Unitel Productions big boss] ’yong possibility of doing a movie na sequel ng original Working Girls na ginawa 25 years ago, I was very excited but at the same time na-tense ako because alam ko it is going to be such a challenge. But I hope I did justice in a way of providing a sequel sa isang masterpiece ng idol kong si Ishmael Bernal."
Working Girls, the joint venture of Viva Films, GMA Films and Unitel, will premiere on April 21.