“SIARGAO” finally takes front and center in acclaimed director-producer Paul Soriano’s first Metro Manila Film Festival entry, starring Jericho Rosales, Erich Gonzales and Jasmine Curtis-Smith.
Deviating from his previous serious projects, Soriano dips his hands into the romance-drama genre with his first travel-themed movie focusing on the story of a woman who is finding, recreating and rebuilding herself in the picturesque island of Siargao. But more than showcasing the island, Soriano aims to create an awareness to match the province’s booming tourism.
“Now that we have this voice, we have this media attention, we also want to make sure to create an awareness that let’s take care of Siargao. Let’s take care of the beauty of Siargao, the beauty of the beaches. Let’s respect the locals and let’s not saturate it,” he explained saying that they made sure to interlace their advocacy into the film’s script and their ongoing promotional efforts.
Joining him in this cause are Jericho, who plays the role of Diego, the island-lover love interest of the broken-hearted Laura, played by Erich and the environmental activist and Siargao native, Abby, played by Jasmine.
Although Direk Paul’s ¬Ten17P Productions produced Jasmine’s “Transit” (2013), “Siargao” is the first time he gets to direct her, Erich and Jericho.
“I’ve always thought ‘This girl has it!’ She takes her craft seriously and I’ve always wanted to work with her as a director,” he said of Jasmine. “What was nice about Jasmine was even when we were shooting, she was really immersed in the experience.”
Although he’s long wanted to work with him, Paul shared he wasn’t able to get Jericho’s approval from the get go.
“When I was starting to think of my actors, of course Jericho was top of mind. Jericho has been a good friend of mine for how many years. I pitched it to Echo, it wasn’t a yes agad, it was more of ‘Let’s meet. Usap muna tayo, kape muna tayo.’ Tapos we talked and talked and we talked and talked more,” he described.
Erich caught the director’s attention as early as her “Katorse” days. True enough, he discovered her passion for acting while filming “Siargao.”
“When we went to Siargao, she had a really crash course on surfing and she did it. I mean it’s not easy to get up on your surf board but she did it. I remember pa when we had our dinner she had cuts and bruises all over her legs and her arms pero go pa rin siya,” he said.
After three failed tries to make it to the festival’s official list, Soriano is looking forward to experiencing one particular thing this coming MMFF.
“Personally, I’m looking forward to finally having one of my films watched by a lot of people. ‘Yun lang. Most, if not all, of the films I’ve done in the past, my audiences were very niche lang. It would be nice to see the cinema more than 50% full. Sanay ako sa 10 people lang watching my film, 20 people watching my film, 30 people watching my film,” he ended.