Seven years after “Mano Po: A Mother’s Love” hit the big screen comes the follow-up “Mano Po: Chinoy.”
The seventh offering in the franchise from Regal Entertainment stars Filipino-Chinese Richard Yap alongside Jean Garcia, Janella Salvador and Janna Agoncillo. “Mano Po 7” is being directed by Ian Lorenos, also Filipino-Chinese.
“Matagal ko ng gustong maka-trabaho si direk Ian. Actually, long overdue na kasi two years na kaming nag-uusap. So, I said, ‘Why don’t we just do ‘Mano Po?’” said Roselle Monteverde of the entertainment outfit. “We’ve been collaborating a lot since we’re both Filipino-Chinese. We’ve shared a lot of ideas and new things that we’ve discovered with Chinese-Filipino families of this generation.”
Ian finds being Filipino-Chinese a “big help” in directing “Mano Po 7.” His previous works were “Alagwa,” “Saturday Night Chills” and “The Leaving.”
“Kasi ’yung language, dialogue, ’yung nuances, alam ko iyon eh. Siguro ako ’yung typical Filipino-Chinese na lumaki sa Binondo. I speak the language that our ancestors speak, ’yung mga unang dumating sa Pilipinas. Malaking tulong iyon kasi doon ako lumaki, at alam ko din ’yung history ng lugar,” he said.
Ian and Regal want “Mano Po: Chinoy” to tackle issues that Filipino-Chinese families experience nowadays, making it different from previous installments. The sixth, “Mano Po: A Mother’s Love,” was about half-Chinese Melinda Uy (played by Sharon Cuneta) who got separated from her children.
“We want to make a story about the modern generation of Tsinoys (in ‘Mano Po 7’). So, iyon ’yung something in mind while we’re doing this. We want this to be contemporary,” Ian said.
The highlight of the film is the dynamics between the characters.
“Kasi ipu-push natin dito ’yung relationship issues. Dito makikita ’yung conflict ng isang Chinese-Filipino family,” the director said.
Richard, who rose to fame by playing the Filipino-Chinese businessman Papa Chen on ABS-CBN’s teleserye “My Binondo Girl,” is aware of such things.
“May mga scenes dito na nangyayari sa ibang Chinese-Filipino families. They get so consumed with the business that they forget the families,” said he. “I think kaya ko siguro ito (gampanan) kasi may experience naman ako sa Chinese culture. It’s close to my background.”
Jean, who plays Richard’s wife in the movie, feels grateful to work again with Regal after many years. She also gets to work with cast members mostly from ABS-CBN.
“Very thankful ako na mabigyan ako ng blessings na ito. Dahil sa pelikula, nakakatrabaho ko ’yung mga hindi ko nakaka-trabaho sa netwok kung saan ako ngayon,” said Jean, a GMA-7 talent.
Ian sees no problem with Jean not watching any of the previous “Mano Po” movies. He said she wants her to give her role distinct portrayal.
“Gusto ko na iba naman ang atake niya compared to other actresses (from the other ‘Mano Po’ movies). She’s very unique naman. She’s a great actress so what can you ask for. So bigyan na lang natin siya ng sarili niyang acting sa “Mano Po 7,”” the director said.
The only advice Ian gave Jean is for her to learn more about Chinese culture.
“I think she should spend time ng konti sa background, konting cultural lessons para may idea siya why we do (things) his way, why we act this way, mga ganoong bagay,” Ian said.
As for Richard, Ian advised him to just be himself –well, sort of.
“Be Richard Yap but in a different scenario. Kasi iba ’yung approach ko. Ayaw ko na may constraint si Richard na ‘Ganito ang gawin mo.’ What if mas may kaya pa pala siyang gawin na I didn’t know. An artist should create something that (people) have never seen (from him) before,” he said.
Janelle also reunites with Richard. Recall that he played as her father on “Be Careful With My Heart.”
“Excited ako kung paano ito maiiba,” she said.
Shoot in China
Some scenes will be shot on Mount Putuo, an island southeast of Shanghai where Roselle goes on yearly pilgrimage.
“Kahit na wala kang problema, it’s a good positive feeling and healing (to go there) kasi you pray with the monks every morning. You don’t eat any meat and you do the vegetarian diet with them,” Roselle said.
She hopes “Mano Po 7” will not get affected by the issue between the Philippines and China over the West Philippine Sea.
“Ang ipu-push naman namin palagi is focus tayo doon sa story ng “Mano Po” and the positive values we can adapt here,” Roselle said. “Kung ano man ang mangyari sa West Philippine Sea, it’s a social issue na sana hindi naman maapektuhan during Christmas kapag ipinalabas natin ito. I think open-minded naman ang mga tao na separate naman ang issue na iyan sa movie. Baka makatulong pa (nga) sana.”
More than feeling pressured, Richard is hopeful for the success of “Mano Po: Chinoy.”
“Of course, may konting pressure but we just have to do our best. We hope the story will attract the moviegoers. I’m sure marami tayong Tsinoys na ma-attract na manood dito. Hopefully, this will go very well,” the actor said.( Karen Valeza and Jojo P. Panaligan , mb)