How Rachel won new best actress award

Raymond Bagatsing & Rachel Alejandro

RACHEL Alejandro considers it a great honor to play Dona Aurora Quezon in the Star Cinema-Kinetek co-production, “Quezon’s Game”. “She’s an original empowered woman,” she says. “She’s one of the leaders and the pioneers in the campaign to give Filipino women the right to vote in the 1930s. This is just one of her many great deeds and you will learn more about her and her husband, Pres. Manuel Quezon, when you watch our movie ‘Quezon’s Game’, that opens in theaters on May 29. I really feel proud to be given the chance to portray her on the big screen.”

Just like Raymond Bagatsing who auditioned as Pres. Quezon, Rachel also took an audition with other actresses. “I was there when Rachel auditioned,” says Raymond at the presscon of their movie. “Una akong nakuha sa kanya. Then our director, Matthew Rosen, made us read lines together, in what they call a slide rehearsal. After Rachel left, Matthew asked me: 'what do you think?' I told him that I felt that Rachel made more of a connection with me sa pusong Quezon ko. Then Matthew said he also likes her more than the other actresses who auditioned.”

“Actually, I was so nervous during the audition,” says Rachel. “Kasi ang tagal kong nawala sa movies. Before I came back for ‘Larawan’, my last movie was an action movie with Victor Neri more than 20 years ago, kasi I focused on music and theatre. So sa kaba ko, what I did is just to make myself an open vessel as Aurora Quezon and just took in everything that Director Matthew Rosen told me, also everything that Raymond suggested in our scenes together. Sa movie kasi, we are actually cousins, para kaming magkuya kasi 10 years old si Pres. Quezon kay Dona Aurora in real life. They’re really very close as a couple and made decisions together. I’m really proud to be a part of this period movie which focuses on a little known heroic act of Pres. Quezon in helping save the lives of about a thousand Jews from the Holocast of World War II.”

Rachel won an acting award in the Houston Worldfest for her performance and one reviewer wrote that she “captures the regal, demure, yet stately persona of the First Lady, who knows how to act in support of the stature of her husband, a kind gentle woman who is stick and sometimes stubborn to a fault.”  

The script of “Quezon’s Game” was written by Dean Rosen and Janice Perez. “It’s not really a biopic of Pres. Quezon,” says Janice. “Kasi it’s just about the humanitarian act he did in rescuing Jewish refugees in Europe. I first heard about this from my folks who said there are many people in Cebu who have Jewish features because Pres. Quezon helped them. I did a research and a Jewish scholar then sent me all the materials about it and Dean and I collaborated on doing the screenplay.”

How is it different from “Schindler’s List”? “‘Quezon’s Game’ is more light hearted,” says Director Matthew Rosen, who is Jewish but grew up in London and has been residing in the Philippines for 30 years now. “‘Schindler’s List’ is about the horrors of war and after the movie, you feel broken. ‘Quezon’s Game’ is more about how people came together as human beings to help other human beings who are in peril. Filipinos will feel very proud after watching it as it’s about the warmth and the humanity of the Filipino people. Because of this, Israel has an open door policy for Filipinos. They can come and visit Israel without a visa. And a monument was also erected in Israel as a gesture of gratitude to Filipinos for opening their doors to the Jews at a time when the world is very anti-Semite and rejected them.”