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Bela feels complete despite zero lovelife

Bela Padilla and Paul Soriano
Bela Padilla and Paul Soriano

BELA Padilla tackles her most challenging role to date as Edilberta, a female soldier and military sniper who embarks on a personal journey of revenge to punish the killer of her parents in “Mañanita”, written by Lav Diaz and directed by Paul Soriano that will open in theaters on December 4. It was our country’s representative in the main competition of the recently concluded Tokyo International Filmfest. How did Bela prepare for her role?

“I had to undergo training with real soldiers on how to assemble guns and shoot with rifles properly, pati kung paano maasinta ang target mo,” she says. “Marami akong pinagdaanang proseso, not only physically but also mentally and emotionally. Mabigat talaga ‘yung role and ‘yung story. Naka-prosthetic make up ako rito kasi nasunog ang part ng face ko. Isa ito sa most difficult movies na ginawa ko kasi kakaunti lang ang dialogue. The script was only 8 pages long and the camera just follows me, puro tingin-tingin lang, you let your eyes speak for you and convey what you feel. But the running time of the film is two hours and a half, kahit walang masyadong dialogue. Now, I can even also claim na magaling na ako with guns, kasi lahat ng pinatatarget nila sa akin, natatamaan ko, bullseye!”

Mañanita is a term used to serenade those who are celebrating their birthdays and those who attended the De Colores cursillos or retreats before. Direk Paul Soriano he uses the “Mañanita” title as he wants to serenade the audience. The movie, which got a Grade A from the Cinema Evaluation Board, has many original songs. The film is about Bela’s personal journey after she loses her job and turns to alcohol to drown out her problems, then she gets a very important phone call concerning a mission that will drastically change her entire life.

Is it true she is the personal choice of Direk Paul Soriano to play the lead role of Edilberta? “Well, he said I was the only one he had in mind after nabuo nila yung script. Actually, we were meeting then kasi I’m pitching a story to him, but he pitched this story to me also and I got interested and said yes right away, without reading the script. I’ve seen him his past works and I know he is a director who I can trust.”

How was their film accepted in the Tokyo International Filmfest? “I felt humbled kasi they liked it so much. Lahat ng screenings namin, sold out and they watched it in rapt attention. After the screening, many Japanese viewers came up to me to say that the film’s quietness resonated with them. Isolated kasi Edliberta and she is seeking either vengeance or forgiveness. This is a character-driven film and I was able to relate to Edilberta kasi I’m in a point in my life where I’m always alone when I’m not working. I detached myself from being Bela to be Edilberta at ang laging kaeksena ko rito, hindi tao kundi baril. “Mañanita” is a dream project for any actor and I’m thankful to Direk Paul as he allowed me to express myself in the character the way I want to. He’s very easy to work with kasi he and his team are very organized and he knows exactly what he wants for each scene. He is his own audience at naka-storybook na sa utak niya ang every scene.”

After this, Bela will be seen with Aga Muhlach in Viva’s Metro filmfest entry, “Miracle in Cell No. 7”. Since she now writes her own script, next on her agenda is to be able to direct her own movie someday. She’s so busy working in front and behind the camera that her love life is now deliberately placed on the back burner. “Hindi naman ako naghahanap ng lovelife kasi I’m so happy right now. Wala akong nararamdamang may kulang sa buhay ko.”