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The Great Lesson This Young Filmmaker Learned From Directing The Fabulous Gloria Diaz And Elizabeth Oropesa

To be a young filmmaker and have the great fortune of having two of Philippine Cinema’s queens on your cast doesn’t happen to everyone. Well, it happened to Fatrick Tabada last year via the CinemaOne Originals entry, Si Chedeng At Si Apple. Gloria Diaz and Elizabeth Oropesa were not exactly the actresses Fatrick had in mind when he was still writing the script—about a  woman who just came out as a lesbian after her husband’s death (Chedeng), and the friend who just happened to have beheaded her live-in partner (Apple). To older Pinoy movie fans who have seen Gloria and La Oropesa in their Danny Zialcita comedies, they are exactly the type of stars who can make this crazy idea of a film fly. But Fatrick and his co-director Rae Red was only going to discover that in the process of making the movie. We spoke to Fatrick about working with his Si Chedeng At Si Apple actresses, once considered sex symbols, and now two of the finest actresses in local entertainment.  


1. Was it your choice to put Gloria and La O to star in a movie? Why?

I didn't have any actors in mind when I was writing the script. When we got accepted at Cinema One Originals, that's when we started looking for actors to play Chedeng and Apple, and it wasn't that easy. We figured that the chemistry of the two actors plays an important role in the film.  It was like pairing a love team.

We considered a lot of actors who are in their 60s, listing them as Chedeng or/and Apple. Ms. Gloria Diaz and Ms. Elizabeth Oropesa were part of the list but we never thought of them as a pair.

When we narrowed the list down, I think it was Ronald Arguelles (Head of CinemaOne Originals) or Bianca Balbuena (film producer) who suggested the pair, citing that the two had actually both starred in the classic film, Ang Pinakamagandang Hayup sa Balat ng Lupa. I've heard of it, but never actually saw it, so I was a bit hesitant. Together with my co-director, Rae Red, we had to watch whatever video is available online.

After so much thought put into it, we gave it a go. And after seeing their chemistry onscreen, I don't know why I was even having a second thought. The characters were written for them!


2. What was your first impression of each of them?

We first met them separately to initially discuss the characters. Ms. Elizabeth was funny. She was cracking jokes as we discuss how she was going to tackle the character. She was very easy to get along with.  I thought to myself, we have found our Apple.

Like the beauty Queen that she is, Ms. Gloria was elegant. I was a bit scared to meet her for the first time. She's not known to mince her words when giving comments. Is she going to give snide remarks about my outfit? Or how I pronounce words? You know, all these imagined scenarios. I was even afraid to eat my cake and drink my coffee during our first meeting.

But all of my fears were proven wrong. She and Elizabeth were a joy to work with.


3. How would you describe their relationship on the set?  

They were like real life Chedeng and Apple behind the camera.  I think the best way to describe their relationship is this:  when we were shooting a scene and we intended it to be one continuous take, Ms. Gloria forgot her lines. Ms. Elizabeth was quick to supply the line. They were finishing each other's sentences. We decided not to cut the scene and use it in the film.


4. What are the similarities and differences you noticed?

Ms. Elizabeth is like Apple, fun, high spirited, and playful while Ms. Gloria is like Chedeng, calm, placid, and well behaved.  I think their differences complement their weaknesses. They've been friends I think for more than 30 years so they probably know each other well.


5. On the set, what was your favorite Gloria and Elizabeth moment?

There are actually a lot! But what stood out was when we were shooting a scene where they have to ride in one habal-habal (motorcycle) in a rocky rural area. And they were having a great time! It represents the whole process of making the film: a fun and crazy ride!


6. What did you learn from working with these two movie queens?

During the first days of shoot we were actually tiptoeing in directing them. We are first-time directors directing veteran actors. But what amazed me was how open they were in collaborating with us, young and new directors.  They listen and were eager to try new things. 

Even if you are The Ms. Gloria Diaz and The Ms. Elizabeth Oropesa, you never stop learning, growing and reinventing yourself. I hope to remind myself that when I reach my 60s, still making films or not.


Catch “Si Chedeng At Si Apple” on its last remaining days via the Cine Lokal festival at SM Manila, SM Sta. Mesa, SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall, SM North Edsa, SM Fairview, SM Southmall, and SM Bacoor up to June 28.