Congratulations for winning best actress in the recent ToFarm Film Festival!
“Hindi po naman siya bold. Although may part po na topless pero hindi po exposed iyong breast. Para sa akin, may certain culture kasi kaming pinaninindigan kaya kailangan naming gawin. But as Igorots, we were not exploited in the movie. Pure Igorota po ako pero I don’t feel that way.”
In the recent Cinemalaya Film Festival, an acting upstart named Hasmine Killip became the newest discovery who made a mark in the said filmfest. In the upcoming ToFarm Film Festival, a new name is expected to make a niche in this year’s acting derby. Meet Mai Fanglayan, an Igorota to watch.
She’s making her acting debut on the big screen in Tanabata’s Wife, a period romance based on the classic Philippine short story by Sinai Hamada. In the film, she plays the role of Fasang, a young feisty Bontoc woman who marries a middle-aged yet successful Japanese immigrant farmer in La Trinidad, Benguet.
A Masscom graduate, Mai claimed that acting is not a new thing to her since she had a solid theater background. She said that getting the much-coveted role of Fasang was such a journey for her.
“Nag-audition po ako. Actually, nasabit lang po ako. Iyong friend ko po ang nag-audition. That time, hindi ko ini-expect na mag-a-audition ako. Sabi ko, sasamahan ko lang siya. Noong binigyan kami ng form, sabi niya subukan ko. Ako po iyong last na nag-audition. Wala po talaga sa utak ko that time so hindi ko po talaga ini-expect,” she recounted. Being a true-blooded Igorota helped her know the dynamics of her role, too.
“The language and the culture is pamilyar po sa akin. So, nakatulong po siya kung paano ko ipo-portray ang role ko as Fasang,” she articulated. She also made her own research about the Cordillera women during the era.
“Nag-research po ang buong team. Kami rin pong mga actors, nag-research at nagtanong-tanong din po, na kung totoo ang ganito at ganoon. At least meron po kaming background kung paano isasabuhay ang characters namin,” she shared. She admitted that it’s her first time to bare on the screen.
She considered herself lucky to work with acclaimed Japanese actor-director Miyuki Kamimura. “May times noong una, pressured at kinakabahan po. Pero, as the filming progresses, iyong rapport namin, na-build naman po,” she said.
Mai admitted that she did not encounter any language barrier in working with Kamimura, too. “Wala naman akong na-experience. Nag-iingles naman po siya. Meron din po siyang kasamang interpreter, so nagkakaintindihan po kami,” she confessed. She also felt working with foreign actors poses a bigger challenge than working with locals. “Pareho po silang okey. Mas challenging lang po iyong with a foreigner, kasi may extra effort ka para magkaintindihan kayo,” she concluded.
Set in the 1920’s, Tanabata’s Wife is a story of a successful Japanese immigrant farmer who has pioneered the planting of salad greens in Benguet. Middle-aged and lonely, he hires a young Bontoc woman, as farmhand, and eventually falls in love with her. They get married and have a son, but she is attracted to the city lights of Baguio that is fast taking shape, and to someone else.
Written by Palanca award-winning writer and fictionist Charlson Ong, it is directed by Lito Casaje and Charlson Ong. The movie unreels in selected cinemas like, Trinoma, Greenbelt 1, Gateway, SM Megamall, SM Manila, Robinsons Galleria, Gaisano Davao, and Ayala Mall Legazpi (Bicol) from September 12-18.
ToFarm Filmfest is a brainchild of Dr. Milagros O. How, President and CEO of Universal Harvester, Inc. with Bibeth Orteza as Festival Director, Joey Romero as Managing Director, Sonny Guingab as Committee Member, and Agnes Valencia as Supervising Producer.