In 2008, newspapers carried headlines regarding broadcast journalist Ces Drilon's abduction in Mindanao.
This 2010, the indie film Tsardyer highlights, among other things, the difficulties of being in a hostage situation.
In this Cinema One Originals entry, Dimples Romana portrays Leslie, a broadcast journalist who is kidnapped by rebel soldiers in exchange for ransom.
Mon Confiado and Bombi Plata portray the two cameramen who are also abducted in Sulu.
Leslie befriends a Tausug boy named Shihab—Martin delos Santos—who is assigned to run errands for the Abu Sayyaf, mostly to "charge" the mobile phones used in their hostage negotiations.
In earlier interviews with PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal), director Sigfreid Barros-Sanchez and actor Mon Confiado have said that the film is loosely based on the kidnapping of Ces Drilon and the cameramen with her, but that the film is not about any of the three.
It really is about the child Shihab, according to Sigreid and Mon. And there was indeed a child in the Abu Sayyaf camp who was given duties by the adults, such as "charging" the cell phones the rebels used.
Thus, the title Tsardyer.
How was it like shooting Tsardyer?
"It was very difficult, kasi we were in the middle of the forest. We had to walk very long hours to get to the remote area, plus siyempre totoo ang mga kagat ng lamok, langgam, pero it's all part of the experience," she told PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) during the film's gala night held November 12 at the Shangri-la Mall in Mandaluyong City.
She continued, "At least naghatid kami ng different flavor because I'm sure you've seen all the fantastic movies that are being offered now. So very different. Iba naman ang flavor."
VERY PHYSICAL SCENES. In this indie film, Dimples had to shoot some very physical scenes. She is pushed and shoved by her captors while they run across a forest to evade the military rescue team.
The violence escalates with an attempt of an Abu Sayyaf member to rape her in the middle of a field.
"Actually, most of the scenes, puro pisikal talaga, dahil abduction ito. So natural lang na lahat ng hits totoo talaga," she adds.
"More on tulak, kasi nakatali kami with baging [vines], tatlo kami. So, pag tinulak mo yung isa, pag gumulong yung isa, gulong kami lahat."
Since they shot their scenes in a forest located in Bosoboso near Bulacan, the cast members had to rely on the moonlight and other sources of light in order to find their way back to their vehicles.
"Pag pack-up na kami, wala nang ilaw doon. So, talagang ang dilim-dilim. Nagtutulakan kami nina Kuya Mon [Confiado] pag pauwi na. May mga ganun talaga. Pero masaya, masaya kasi yung grupo ng Tsardyer."
MARTIN DELOS SANTOS. Dimples is impressed by her 11-year-old co-star Martin delos Santos who quickly learned how to speak Tausug for his role as Shihab.
"Martin is a very smart kid. He's exceptionally intelligent. If you give him directions, he automatically follows it," she says.
"For some reason, malaro siya sa set. Pero once binigyan siya ng directions ni Direk... Feeling ko nga, parang di siya nakikinig, pero pag nag-take na, nakukuha naman niya.
"So I guess wala na akong marereklamo, basta nade-deliver nung bata yung trabaho niya."
Martin delos Santos previously appeared in the 2009 Hollywood film Mammoth, which starred Michelle Williams and Gael Garcia Bernal.
CHILDREN AT WAR. The ABS-CBN actress believes that Tsardyer has an important message to share about the plight of children who are recruited into the war.
"Awareness for all of us na nandito sa siyudad," Dimples points out.
"Kasi doon, mayroon palang nangyayari na very vulnerable ang mga bata. Because at an early age, they're being offered—what do you want to take: the path of war or the path of education?"
Dimples Romana, one of the better actresses working today, currently stars in ABS-CBN's remake of Mara Clara.
She will also appear in the upcoming indie film, Senior Year.