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Keith Cabaez, Jodi Santamaria and Vahn Lenard Pascual




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Sisa, battered wife, reinvented

By Amadis Ma. Guerrero
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:24:00 08/18/2008

Filed Under: Entertainment (general), Cinema

MANILA, Philippines?Screams of excitement could be heard two kilometers away; you?d think Dingdong or Marian had materialized on Recto Avenue in Manila?s University Belt. The University of the East campus was in a tizzy.

The event was a ?test preview? of the forthcoming film, ?Sisa,? produced by Carlo Maceda?s On Cam Productions, directed by CJ Andaluz, and written by poet-playwright Frank Rivera. The cast, in their turn-of-the-century costumes, paraded in front of the UE building, and then snaked their way into the campus, as the UE band drummed up interest in the affair.

There was Jay Manalo (Padre Salvi), Jodi Santamaria (Sisa), Christian Vasquez (Juanito, Sisa?s suitor); Maceda (Pedro, Sisa?s villainous husband); Aleck Bovick (Doa Consolacion), Richard Quan (Elias) and so on.

The stars made their way to the UE Theater on the fourth floor, followed by hundreds of fired-up students who filled the auditorium for a free screening.

Shot in various locations, including the churches of Morong, Rizal, and San Rafael, Bulacan (where the church tower is said to have inspired Rizal in the writing of the ?Noli,? specifically the tragic story of Sisa?s children, Crispin and Basilio), ?Sisa? is an ambitious undertaking. It?s long, detailed and often absorbing, with intense acting and fine photography by Albert Banzon and John Wong. ?Binaligtad ko ang ?Noli? at ?Fili? and focused on Sisa,? said Rivera. ?The ?Noli? and ?Fili? are epic, but our frame is smaller,? noted director Andaluz.

The start of the film is striking, with a moving collage of the characters in masks. ?Noli? characters swirl around Sisa as the story progresses, and slowly the tragic heroine comes into focus.

Injustice follows injustice, abuse follows abuse until poor Sisa?s fate becomes almost unbearable. At the end, in a theatrical device, the dead Sisa is resurrected. She confronts Rizal (Alan Paule) to demand why he wrote her that way.

As Sisa, Santamaria is consistent and affecting. Asked if she considered playing Sisa in a different way, she replied: ?She was meant to be like that; Kung matapang na babae siya, hindi siya maloloka.?

(?Sisa? is available for private screenings. It is currently touring campuses.)



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