Ina Feleo will be seen in two independently produced films for the first quarter of 2011.
In the political thriller Deadline, she will play a Mindanao-based journalist who incurs the wrath of a governor (to be portrayed by Tirso Cruz III) because she exposed his wrongdoings.
Her other film is the family drama Ikaw ang Pag-ibig, which depicts how a dysfunctional family becomes united after finding out that one of them is diagnosed with terminal cancer.
"Na-excite ako dito kasi I've never played a journalist before," said Ina during the story conference of Deadline held last December.
"And it's a Joel Lamangan film. Nung nabasa ko, yung mga sitwasyon, never ko pang na-experience. May eksena na parang maa-ambush kami. Na-challenge ako kasi hindi ko alam kung paano pa gagawin.
"Ang character ko, isang journalist na lumaki sa Mindanao and ang boyfriend ko Muslim, si Allen Dizon."
How does she feel about portraying a woman whose life is in danger for fulfilling her duties as a member of the media?
"Parang hindi ko siya mapaniwalaan kasi it's so unreal to me," Ina said.
"Si Direk Marilou [Diaz-Abaya], ikinukuwento niya sa akin na sa Mindanao, kung saan nag-shoot siya before for Bagong Buwan (2001), after a certain hour, pinapaalis na talaga sila kasi nga may mga Abu Sayyaf. Parang part na talaga ng buhay nila at hindi ako makapaniwala."
PREMIERE OF PEÑAFRANCIA FILM. Aside from starring in Deadline, Ina is also part of Ikaw ang Pag-ibig, a drama about a family seeking intercession from Our Lady of Peñafrancia, the patroness of Bicol.
This project is written, directed and co-produced by Direk Marilou Diaz-Abaya. The film is graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board and endorsed by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.
"Very successful ang special screening ng Ikaw ang Pag-ibig sa Naga," said Ina.
"Doon muna siya pinalabas kasi ang producer niya ang Archdiocese of Caceres, pero idi-distribute ng Star Cinema. Premiere niya on January 10 pero ang run niya sa theaters on February 7.
"May part sa film na na-feature ang Peñafrancia festival pero in a documentary way.
"Nate-tense ako nung una kasi baka magmukhang preachy. Pero nung napanood ko, ang ganda ng pagka-real niya kasi mas nanaig ang istorya ng family," explained the daughter of Johnny Delgado and Laurice Guillen.
The film's world gala premiere was held last December 17, 2010 in Naga, in time for the 300th anniversary of the devotion to Our Lady of Penafrancia.
Ina revealed that she was able to convince her mother, Direk Laurice, to attend the screening of the film in Naga even though she was still recuperating from a recent operation.
"Nagka-tumor siya sa kidney pero benign naman. Hindi siya cancerous.
"Last year pa nakita 'yon, pero medyo maliit pa. Lumalaki kasi yung tumor, medyo delikado kaya kailangang tanggalin," said Ina about her mother's condition.
FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE. In the film, Ina is cast as Vangie, a woman who is asked to become a bone marrow transplant donor for her brother. Marvin Agustin is cast as Vangie's brother, a priest who is diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).
Ina said that she could empathize with her character Vangie because she knows what a cancer patient is going through during various stages of the disease.
Ina's father, Johnny Delgado, died of complications caused by cancer of the lymph nodes. The veteran actor passed away on November 19, 2009.
"Since si Direk Marilou ang director at close siya kay Daddy, naging madali naman ang pagdidirek niya sa akin. Minsan, ine-explain pa lang niya ang scene, meron siyang look sa akin, tapos ko na kung ano ang gusto niya.
"Hindi man niya direktong sabihin, alam ko gusto niyang isipin ko ang certain moment or a certain feeling na very familiar sa amin kasi first hand ang experience namin sa sakit."
Direk Marilou herself was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Was it painful for Ina to recall the struggles of her father?
"Para ibalik mo painful but at the same time, yun din ang chance ko to express myself," she admitted.
"Pag namatayan ka, hindi mo napapansin na may certain coldness, may certain detachment. Parang instinct, parang self-preservation. Kahit hindi mo intention, mare-realize mo na dinededma mo pala ang feelings mo.
"Pag umaarte ako at nagagamit ko, parang nasasariwa siya. But at the same time, masaya rin ako pag nasasariwa kasi parang mas malapit uli ang daddy ko.
"Kasi nawawala, e. Yun ang nakakalungkot, minsan hindi mo na naaalala ang feeling. Pero pag kailangan mong gawin ang eksena at na-fit mo at naramdaman mo ulit, masarap actually ang feeling.
Produced by the Archdiocese of Caceres and the Marilou Diaz-Abaya Film Institute and Arts Center, Ikaw ang Pag-ibig is scheduled to have its regular run in cinemas starting February 7, 2011.