Close Encounters with Ate Vi

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How’s it like working with Vilma Santos? – Well, not all actors get to be included in a movie with the country’s Star For All Seasons, so when the chance presented itself to Carlos Agassi, Marvin Agustin, Danilo Barrios, John Wayne Sace and Piolo Pascual, there was no way they could pass it up. Carlos, Marvin, Danilo, John and Piolo play the children of Vilma and Christopher de Leon in Chito Roño’s Dekada 70, one of the highly-touted entries in this year’s film festival. I got the chance to ask them about their on-the-set experience with everyone’s Ate Vi and here’s what they have to say –

Carlos Agassi: “At first, I was star-struck. I knew I was getting cold feet. Imagine, si Ms. Vilma Santos ang kaeksena ko! It’s so hard to describe the initial meeting. There’s really a tendency to forget all your lines because you’ll be swept off in awe. “Then it dawned on me that I have to focus and focus really well, because I cannot disappoint her and I cannot waste her time. Ate Vi is a busy person, and she only has time for one movie a year so her time is really precious. “After a few days of working together, I started to appreciate her more – as an actress and as a person. She’s very generous and warm. And when it’s time for a take, she’s always in character and it’s time to get serious for everyone. “I’ve been telling close friends that after this movie, I can die, kasi nakasama ko na si Ate Vi. It’s a great opportunity and a greater privilege for someone who has not really proven his worth as an actor to act opposite the one and only Ate Vi.”

John Wayne Sace: “I play her youngest son in the movie and I’m also the least popular among the actors who are playing her children. That’s why I got really nervous. “But she’s really nice and gives me pointers in acting and guides me in our scenes together, of course, with the help of Direk Chito (Roño). While we were shooting the film, she made me feel like her real child so the experience wasn’t too difficult for me.”

Danilo Barrios: “Make any new actor act opposite Ate Vi and he’ll surely tremble in fear. She belongs to a different level, with all the acting awards she has received all these years. “On the set, she made me feel relaxed. She’s very approachable, too. Isa pa, hindi ka niya kailangang turuan verbally para ka matuto. Just watch her, observe her moves and how she delivers lines, siguradong matututo ka. “I have very good memories working with Ate Vi for this movie. I will forever treasure and cherish the experience.”

Piolo Pascual: “Whew! It’s really hard to describe the feeling because it’s complex – a mixture of excitement, anxiety, at times inferiority, unexplainable joy and a big deal of respect all rolled into one. “Ate Vi is an actor through and through – she comes to the set prepared and she gets into her character Amanda on cue. I admire her sense of professionalism, her many caring ways not only for the actors but for the crew and people behind the production. “She’s in a league of her own. I look forward to do another film with her. And I mean it – anytime basta si Ate Vi.”

Marvin Agustin: “Its definitely a dream come true for me. It’s not everyday one gets to work with one of the country’s most-admired actresses. Bata pa ako, Vilma Santos na yan – premyado, respetado.” “As we worked together for almost two years to complete this film, I observed that she is, aside from being a great actress, very human. She gets tired, sleepy and hungry and jokes around with us. But the nice thing is, she doesn’t make you feel she’s superior in any way. She blends very well with people of all stature and class and despite her many achievements, she’s very modest and keeps her feet on the ground. “I’m really honored to have been chosen to play one of her children in Dekada 70. I will forever be grateful to those responsible for giving me this wonderful break.” – Ricky T. Gallardo, The Star, December 20, 2002, Reposted by:Sol Jose Vanzi (READ MORE)