Iza Calzado gives an intense performance as Maricel Salvacruz in the indie film Dukot (Desaparecidos). This indie film sheds light on the plight of political prisoners under martial law, who suffered atrocities when they were abducted, tortured and murdered. (Click HERE to learn more about this indie film.)
During the Philippine premiere of Dukot last Saturday, September 19, PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) had the chance to interview Iza about the rape scene that she did for the film.
"Nakakaloka! I hate John Apacible, I hate him!" says Iza jokingly, referring to the actor who "raped" her in the movie. In the rape scene, John was very rough with Iza as he ripped up her shirt to partly reveal her bosom. She was held down by two other guys while her boyfriend Junix Etrata (portrayed by Allen Dizon) was forced to watch the heinous act.
Iza continues, "Fifteen minutes yung eksena na yun na para kang nire-rape. Dun ko lang naintindihan kung bakit sa ibang rape scenes, parang wala nang expression yung babae, wala na siyang ginagawa.
"Yun pala, dadating ka na sa point na hindi ka na makakalaban... mapapagod ka na. I'm a big girl but John is much bigger than I am. I would like to think that I'm quite strong, but he is a lot stronger than me.
"Alam mo, dumating na ako sa point na hindi ko na alam ang gagawin ko. May point na susuko ka na. Na-feel ko siya. Oh my God, ayokong mangyari ito sa kahit na sinong babae or kahit lalaki man! Di ba, meron naman [lalaking nare-rape]?"
How did Iza prepare for this project?
"Si Direk Joel, nagbigay siya ng handouts at pinapanood niya sa amin ang Orapronobis [Lino Brocka's obra about the turbulent political situation during the 1970s]. Alam mo, naiyak ako nung nabasa ko yung script. Na-shock ako, parang hindi ako makapinawala. Ang cruel! Tapos lalo na nung nag-storycon kami, tapos nakita mo yung mga pictures ng mga nawawalang tao. It becomes real to you.
"Kahit hindi siya nangyayari sa akin or sa pamilya ko, hindi ibig sabihin nun na hindi na siya nangyayari. Story kasi siya na nababasa mo sa dyaryo, story siya sa pelikula, but something doesn't strike you as alarming until it strikes you or your family."
Iza says that her character (Maricel Salvacruz) isn't based on one particular person but on real events in the lives of activists.
The director of Dukot, Direk Joel Lamangan, considers it an honor to helm this film since he himself experienced torture at the hands of the military when he was detained for four years in Camp Vicente Lim and Bicutan.
The script of Dukot was written by Palanca awardee Bonifacio Ilagan who was a victim of abduction and torture when he was a student activist and political detainee. His activist sister was abducted, raped and killed under martial law and has never been found.
Did Iza's view of activists change when she portrayed the girlfriend of an activist?
"Kahit naman dati, hinahangaan ko na sila, pero dati hindi ko sila ma-gets. Sorry ha, pero hindi ko ma-gets kung ano yung mga nira-rally nila. Hindi ko naman sila minamaliit, pero it's more like being apathetic. But in my own world, when I see injustice, I would want to fight back."
Since her character used to be an activist, Iza was also shown participating in rallies, allowing her to come in contact with young activists.
"When we were doing a rally scene [for the movie], the students were telling me how bad it was in their school. They were rallying against the school. Iba't iba sila, e. Kanya-kanya tayo ng paraan ng pag-express ng sarili natin to try to get what we want or what we think is fair."
When asked to state the main message of the film Dukot, Iza says: "Our film just wants people to open up their eyes. It's just giving people a different perspective. It's a wake-up call for people, saying 'Hey, this is happening and we shouldn't just turn away.' And it's a reminder for people to choose a good leader especially now that the elections are near."
Dukot (Desaparecidos) had its world premiere in the 2009 Montreal held last August. In the coming months, it will be take part in film festivals in Australia, Japan, and Hong Kong.
The film also stars Snooky Serna as a human rights activist, Emilio Garcia as a hard-hitting photojournalist, Gina Alajar as the mother of Maricel, and Robert Arevalo and Raquel Villavicencio as the parents of Junix. Felix Roco is cast as Noel, the younger brother of Junix. John Apacible and Benjie Felipe portray the heartless captors who brutally torture the victims. Completing the cast are Jim Pebangco, Mon Confiado, Rico Barrera, Menggie Cobarrubias, Tony Mabesa, Richard Arellano, and newcomer Armaine Pagcu.
Produced by ATD Entertainment and CDP Events and Entertainment, Dukot will have its Manila run on December 2, in time for the celebration of international Human Rights Day, December 12.