By Patricia Simone Dauz
The message was clear enough that these kids are not weak, they are really strong and they can live life like normal kids, as limited their time may be in this world.
“Nag-iisa ako na itinaguyod ang Child Haus. Yun pa lang, malaking pagpapala na. Ngayon, hindi na ako nag-iisa. Nanonood kayo sa amin. Sana po i-propagate ninyo ang Child Haus, ang bahay ng mga batang may cancer kung saan aalagaan sila.” With an energetic sparkle in his eyes, hairdresser-philantrophist Ricky Reyes beckoned to the children at the middle row of the SM Megamall Cinema 1, after his short speech. He introduced the kids, who may be normal on the outside, but are actually fighting a deadly disease bravely, cancer. This film, produced by BG Productions International of Baby Go, premiered last November 28.
Child Haus is a subsidiary of the Ricky Reyes Foundation. It is a haven for parents and their children afflicted with cancer. The mission of the organization is to provide those who live in the provinces with temporary housing for free, as they get medical treatment in Metro Manila. They also receive assistance in finding sponsors to cover their medical expenses.
The film of the same name, was penned by Socorro Villanueva and the director is Louie Ignacio. It stars Teri Malvar, Miggs Cuaderno, Mona Louise Rey, Vincent Magbuana, Erika Yu, and Felixia Dizon. Meaty support roles feature experienced theater thespians like Angelina Kanapi, Ina Feleo, and Ricky Ibe. Mainstream regulars like Katrina Halili, Christopher Roxas, and Leni Santos also have important roles as some of the kids’ parents.
Although really slow-paced, the sincerity of the film did not disappoint. What makes it engaging is that the material, tragic in itself because it is about cancer patients, was not overly dramatized, unlike other films of the same nature. The narrative banked on the interaction of the kids with each other mostly. The connection between them was very organic.
Cine Filipino 2014 and Cinema One Originals 2015 best actress Therese Malvar really proved that she is a formidable young actress who makes the most out of the role she’s given. Her take on her role Jessy gave flesh to a young girl that might be kind and meek most of the time, but can stand up to Ching (played by Kanapi), an envious parent.
“Huwag po mawawalan ng pag-asa. Yung fighting spirit po ng cancer patients, ang lakas po. Mas malakas pa po kesa sa akin.” Teri and the other child actors said they learned a lot from their interaction with the children of Child Haus as part of their preparation for their respective roles.
Mona Louise of the Kapuso afternoon teleserye Buena Familia, on the other hand, played the role of a girl that’s sometimes bratty and too liberal with her words. This is a refreshing change from the nice characters she’s played on different TV dramas. Apparently, she got into character quite easily. “Na feel ko po yung script…binasa ko siya. Sa set lang po kasi ako nagbabasa ng script eh.” She studied what motivated her character Isabel to speak and take action. One of the highlights of her interaction with Miggy’s character, Lester, was when she singled him out after he did her a huge favor in connection with an actor she was a fan of. “Parang kulang po yung pansin sa kanya….so yun po, inintindi ko lang.”
Child Haus is part of the second Singkwento International Film Festival based in the Philippines. It is also an official selection in the children’s category of the 14th Dhaka International film festival. A portion of the film’s earnings will go to Child Haus.
Even though the current plan for Child Haus is concentrated on marketing it in different universities and institutions locally, since it is an advocacy film, Ignacio’s film might receive the same attention as Asintado got abroad.