By Rica Arevalo
If you want to see Candy Pangilinan as a “surprising” dramatic actress, go watch Star na Si Van Damme Stallone in the ongoing Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino at cinemas nationwide.
In an exclusive interview with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, Panglinan known for her comedic TV and movie roles, realizes that the box-office success relies heavily on her shoulders. “It’s different because iba yung mga co-actors na kasama ko. (It’s different because of my co-actors.) They are differently abled non-actors. Very raw. Every day parang nagwo-workshop kami (Every day, it’s an ongoing workshop for us).
Candy won Best Actress in the CineFilipino Film Festival 2016. She plays Ermat, a single mother who experiences the trials and joys of having a son, Van Damme Stallone (Jadford Dilanco and Paolo Pingol), with down syndrome. Vanvan’s lifelong goal is to become an artista and the nurturing mother gives her all-out support.
“Very relatable sa akin. In real life, I have a son who is differently abled now under the spectrum of ADHD,” says the UP Theater Arts undergraduate.
“In the film, we have the same journey as I play the parent of two children, one of whom is differently abled. We experience the same discrimination,” reflects the 45-year-old actress. “Yung pag-iintindi at pag-aaruga ay iba din po.” (The understanding and caring of these children are different, too).
She recalls her early beginnings in show business two decades ago. “I would see the assistant director of Abangan ang Susunod na Kabanata jogging around UP. I would jog with him. Sasabihan ko na marunong akong umarte, kunin mo naman kami. (I would tell him I knew how to act and please get us). Her perseverance landed her in the political satire television show impersonating Lorna Tolentino as the Chop-Chop Lady.
In one serendipitous instance, actress Harlene Bautista called her to ask for a pair of socks in a Fernando Poe Jr. movie. “I brought the socks from UP. They paid for my taxi. FPJ was there. I asked him if Harlene had a friend in the movie,” recalls the versatile sit-com veteran. “He said none. Sabi ko hindi totoo ang istorya mo. Lahat ng tao may kaibigan. Kinuha niya ako. Sinama niya ako sa movie (I told him his story was unbelievable and that everyone had a friend. He got me. He included me in the movie).”
And what was her role? “Ginawa nya akong addict, tumalon sa building, patay (He made me an addict, I jumped off the building and died),” she laughed.
Aside from acting, Candy loves to write. “We are finishing a book with my doctor. It’s a journal, my journey with my son. It’s called Mother Dearest,” says the Best Actress winner of the Los Angeles Philippine International Film Festival 2016. “It tackles how I discovered Quentin (Candy’s son) as differently abled, how I tackled it, how I coped and accepted it.”
Why would people see this heartwarming advocacy film? “It tackles a story about the Filipino family at lahat tayo kasama doon.”
Star na Si Van Damme Stallone’s supporting cast includes Isaac Aguirre, Sarah Brakenseik, Ebong Joson, Acey Aguilar, Mara Marasigan, and Jasmine Curtis-Smith.