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Melai Cantiveros-Francisco on Filming in South Korea for "Ma'am Chief: Shakedown in Seoul"

PULP Studios' "Ma'am Chief: Shakedown in Seoul" is action-packed with a hefty serving of comedy, and shooting it was such a fun experience for Melai and her castmates

Pinoy Big Brother: Double Up Big Winner Melai Cantiveros-Francisco marks a milestone in her career with the action-comedy film Ma’am Chief: Shakedown in Seoul


Melai has established herself as a host in recent years, gaining recognition for her work in Magandang Buhay. But with almost 15 years of experience in the industry, there’s also no denying that she’s a talented actress with good comedic timing. 


Melai Cantiveros-Francisco - Ma'am Chief: Shakedown in Seoul
Melai Cantiveros-Francisco | Photo by NicePrint Photo


It is the first time she’s topbilling a movie, and as director Kring Kim pointed out at Ma’am Chief’s media fest, it’s her time to shine!


Ma’am Chief: Shakedown in Seoul is the debut offering of the newly-established PULP Studios, a new player in the film industry that stems from the 25-year legacy of PULP in the magazine, music, event, and concert scenes. 


The film, which centers on a one-of-a-kind, modern-day hero, is an original creation by PULP COO Happee Sy-Go, in collaboration with writer Sofia Hazel Calayag. It follows a policewoman (Melai as Police Exec. Msgt. Criselda Kaptan) who goes on a secret mission, disguising as a tourist guide to catch a fugitive. “Kahit na medyo punong-puno siya ng K-Pop, ng Hallyu, kahit hindi ka K-Pop fan, makaka-relate at ma-e-enjoy mo siya. Kasi we really made sure na each of the characters, at some level, makaka-relate ka sa mga kwento ng buhay nila, lalo na ’yung kwento ng buhay ni Ma’am chief,” Sofia said.



Melai, with her signature humor, said in a conversation with Metro.Style that she was speechless when the project was pitched to her. “My reaction was speechless,” she said. “Speechless din talaga ako kasi may ubo rin ako nu’n eh kaya di ako makasalita. Hindi (laughs), na-amaze ako. Sabi ko hindi ako maniniwala hanggang wala pang meeting. ‘Totoo ba ito? Pero grabe si Lord kung totoo ito.’ Tapos ito na nga, nangyari na nga… ‘Grabe Lord, deserve ko ba ito?’ Napapatanong ako ng ganu’n kasi sobra naman itong binigay sa’kin ni Lord.”



Ma’am Chief was filmed in South Korea, and in some ways, it becomes a tool in paving the way for more collaborations between the Filipinos and Koreans and, at the same time, encouraging people to visit Korea.


Melai also shared that they shot in the location of K-drama Vincenzo, the Sewoon Cheonggye Shopping Center (aka Geumga Plaza), and some coffee shops featured in Korean series. 


Aside from the shoot serving like a crash course on Korean culture and tourist destinations, it was also a food trip for Melai and the rest of the Ma’am Chief cast members. One of the food she discovered (and loved) along the streets of Myeongdong is the Korean egg bread. “Grabe namanyung Myeongdong, alam mo, makukulangan ’yung tiyan mo. Parang gusto ko pa kumain pero kasi puno na,” Melai shared. 




Looking back on their filming experience, Melai shared, “Alam mo ba na lahat kaming mga artista [dito], may mga crush kami na mga crew doon. Mga oppa. Pero crush lang naman. Mas glass skin pa sila kaysa sa amin. And nakakatawa kami, s’yempre nakadamit na kami na parang ’yung character namin, naglalakad kami sa Korea, pinagtitinginan kamiSobrang enjoy kasi sobrang sarap kasama lahat ng mga cast, walang mga attitude. ’Yun ’yung pinaka-takeaway mo talaga ’pag nagshu-shoot ka, ’yung alam mong walang attitude, walang bida-bida. Lahat pantay. ’Yun ang the best na work sa lahat, ’yung masasabi mo na parang hindi ka nagwo-work… Tsaka ang kagandahan sa PULP Studios, very collaborative. Nagtatanong sila, ‘Sa tingin niyo, ano’ng gusto niyong gawin?’ So kami, excited kami magtrabaho kasi naka-join kami sa planning.”



The star-studded ensemble film is led by the Melai Cantiveros-Francisco. Its remarkable cast also includes Alora Sasam, Bernadette Allyson Estrada, Dustine Mayores, Enzo Almario, Jennica Garcia, Karylle, Manel Sevidal, Pepe Herrera, Sela Guia, and more. Ma'am Chief also boasts special cameos by K-Drama and K-Pop stars, such as Do Ji Han, Lee Seunggi, Rolling Quartz, and Yuju.





Ma’am Chief: Shakedown in Seoul hits the Philippine cinemas on November 15.