Before the press conference of My Binondo Girl took place yesterday, August 11, a brief ritual was conducted to ensure blessings for everyone present.
Near the stage, a table had been set up where five apples, five oranges and crispy pata were arranged around a lit candle.
The smell of incense filled the second floor of Choi Garden on Annapolis St. as incense sticks were lit and given to members of the press. People were then instructed to slowly turn and face different sides of the room. Afterwards, the incense sticks were placed around the candle.
Production team members said they did this ritual everyday before shooting their scenes in Hong Kong.
According to My Binondo Girl director Malu Sevilla, they went to Hong Kong to shoot the offices of the company owned by Chen Sy (played by Richard Yap). The cast members also went to Macau to shoot key scenes of ABS-CBN’s upcoming primetime series.
Business unit head Deo Endrinal told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) that they are hoping to shoot more scenes in China, particularly Shenzhen and Guangzhou.
When asked how it was like to shoot in Hong Kong, lead actress Kim Chiu recalls, "Hindi kami masyadong nakapaglibot sa Hong Kong pero maganda dun ang mga tiangge, mura lang ang mga gamit. Nag-Macau rin kami, ang ganda doon. First time ko dun. Na-amaze ako...para siyang mini Las Vegas. Ang ganda!
"Sa Binondo nag-shoot rin kami. Nakakatuwa ang mga tao sa Binondo kasi napanood yata nila ang Gandang Gabi Vice [Vice Ganda’s show where Kim revealed she likes eating siomai]. Yung ibang Chinese nagbibigay sila ng siomai sa akin. Sabi ko, ’parang nauumay ako.’ May malaki, may maliit, iba-iba."
The cast and crew have been shooting for two and a half months already. My Binondo Girl revolves around a young girl named Jade who grows up with a loving mother Zheny (Ai-Ai delas Alas) and a loving grandmother Amor (Gina Pareño). Despite her tough exterior, she yearns for the love and approval of her Chinese father, Chen Sy (Richard Yap).
Jade will stop at nothing to win her father’s heart, even if it means changing her identity. Indeed she pretends to be a boy under the guise of Yuan.
Mutya Orquia serves as the young Kim Chiu in this upcoming primetime series.
In real life, Kim’s parents separated when she was nine years old. Her mother left their family without explanation; her father was a businessman who traveled constantly. And so, Kim and her siblings grew up mostly under the care of her grandmother and relatives.
Is she able to relate to her character Jade?
"Oo siyempre, wala naman talaga akong magulang kaya parang yung struggle ng character ko dito na hanapin ang tatay niya, naramdaman ko yun. Parang ganun din sa totoong buhay," says Kim.
Were there lines in the film that struck a chord in her?
"Marami kasi ang kuwento dito, simula bata siya hanggang tumanda siya, so mararamdaman mo talaga na yung character niya, yung struggles ni Jade na hanapin ang magulang niya. Maraming makakarelate kasi maraming mga bata na hinahanap ang totoong magulang nila."
Kim later pointed out her difference from her character by saying that she did not actually seek out her mother while she was growing up.
She says that she does not have ill feelings towards her mother. "Hindi naman ako nagtatanim ng sama ng loob. Masaya naman ako na kasama ko lola ako...[Naisip ko lang] ’Ano kaya kung hanapin ko ang nanay ko, tatanggapin niya kaya ako?’"
ONE OF THE BOYS. Since this is her first time to portray a male character, Kim says that she got a lot of help from Direk Malu and other production staff.
What tips were given to her in order to effectively portray a male character?
"[Sabi nila] laging naka-slouch, dapat simangot look. Kasi di ba ang mga lalaki, lalo na pag pogi, sungit-sungitan school of acting. Tapos mga kamay laging nasa pocket para mukhang malapad ang katawan mo."
Kim even agreed to speak in a low voice to demonstrate how she disguised her female voice. She says that it takes about an hour for her to transform into a guy.
"Yung role ko, bagong-bago para sa akin. Hindi ko inisip na gagawa ako ng ganito. Struggle ang pagiging Yuan kasi hindi ko naisip na magkakaroon ako ng role na magiging lalaki ako. Yung pagsusuot ng suit, mga damit ng lalaki, binebenda yung dibdib ko para maging flat ang boobs ko. Tapos may bigote pa, makapal ang kilay, tapos may wig."
In fact, she admits, "Noong una, kinabahan ako at nahirapan sina Direk Malu kasi tomboy-tomboy yung Jade na role. Astig. Maton. E, medyo mahinhin ako and mahirap lang kami dito. Nakaangat ang paa ko pero yung kabilang paa ko naka-point. [Sasabihin ni Direk Malu], ’Ano ’yan? Cut!’ Nagiging girl [ako] pero sa tiyaga ni Direk sa akin, naging maganda naman yung kinalabasan."
Kim also recalls how difficult it is to bind her chest to make her appear masculine.
"Binebenda siya [her chest] na konti na lang ang hininga mo. Yung hininga mo konti na lang kasi ang sikip-sikip niya at ang init-init pa. Masakit lalo kapag gumalaw galaw ka ng todo.
"Okay lang naman yun kasi pag taping lang namin binebenda. Pag cut na, tinatanggal na namin," she said.
When asked to name her favorite sequence that she has shot so far, Kim admits, "Yung eksena na si Jade nagtransform into Yuan. Yun yung pinakagusto kong eksena. Ginupit niya yung buhok niya, nagbenda siya ng sarili niya. Yun yung pinakagusto kong scene na dapat nilang abangan.
While portraying a male character, what did she realize about men?
"Mainit pala mag-suit," she quips. "Mahirap rin palang maging lalaki. Kaya pala sila mas mabilis magbihis kasi wala silang masyadong inaayos sa sarili nila. Pag lalaki ka, ligo, suot, alis na. Pag babae, ligo, bihis, mag-aayos, magme-makeup, magsusuklay, parang ang daming ginagawa. Parang dito makikita ang difference ng lalaki at babae."
My Binondo Girl is slated to start airing on ABS-CBN by August 22, 2011.