Legendary singer Celeste Legaspi stars in her first Cinemalaya movie, “Mamang”, an official entry to the 14th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival under the full-length feature category.
According to the proponent of Original Pilipino Music (OPM), doing the role of Mamang is kinda revisiting her painful past.
“It was a role very close to my heart kasi it’s also how my mother lived her life and when she died, she’s also sick with Alzheimer’s,” she said.
She also revealed that at first she’s in a quandary to accept the role of an old woman who struggles against her senility to be with her son. “Muntik na akong hindi mag-agree kasi masyadong malapit siya at masyadong masakit na parang na-relive iyong pain kasi I saw her dementia. I saw her everything. Six years rin siyang naging bedridden. But you know, Denise, my director is a niece of Mario O’hara. I worked closely and wonderfully with Mario and Lino Brocka in the ‘70s and ‘80s. I loved Mario. He’s such a wonderful guy and I learned a lot from him and I know that I couldn’t say no,” she disclosed.
She admitted that her late mother was her inspiration for her role.
“Definitely, siya iyong peg ko. When Mamang, iyong character is slowly getting into dementia. Na-experience ko talaga iyon sa Mama ko kung paano siya nagpalit. Iyong changes in her. So iyon ang inalala ko. It was very painful. It was a very crying moment. I’m glad I did it also. Parang it’s my song for my mother, the film,” she said.
For her, Mamang is also a complex character.
“May mga scenes where is she’s living her past life. It’s not a flashback. These are things that happened in the past. It’s a hallucination. Kaya nga, Alex Medina is my husband kasi iyon iyong naalala niyang hitsura ng asawa niya noong bata pa siya. Iyon ang kanyang nai-imagine,” she shared.
She also confided that Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia, runs in her family.
“Alzheimer’s has been in my family for a long time. My aunts all have Alzheimer’s sa side ng mother ko…and coping with it is very difficult,” she said.
She also said she did not mind being deglamorized in “Mamang”.
“Another challenge for me is Mamang is supposed to be this old woman who’s living in Quezon City, so wala akong makeup, so hindi ako sanay. But for the sake of the film, I don’t mind at all being deglamorized,” she enthused.
Celeste is a supporter of HB 6452 or Comprehensive Mental Health Act’ which states that “every person should have access to the best available mental health care.
“It’s a basic human right and I support it,” she insisted.
She’s thankful that at her age, she still has a sharp memory for details.
“I can memorize lines because of the training that I have in theater. As a singer, I also have to memorize my songs. Memorizing alone is a mental exercise so when I memorize lyrics, hindi ka puwedeng magkamali kasi you have to memorize it exactly,” she quipped.
At 68, she’s also quite health conscious especially on how to prevent memory loss that can happen only with the right combination of physical and mental activity.
“We make it a point na kaming magkakapatid, we read a lot and we exercise a lot. Nakita ko kasi siya kasi sa mother ko noong pinag-retire siya, nawalan siya ng gana sa buhay sa lahat bagay. All she was doing then was to watch TV. So we want to avoid a sedentary lifestyle,” she concluded.
Denise O’hara’s “Mamang” also stars Ketchup Eusebio, Peewee O’Hara, Alex Medina, Gio Gahol, Elora Españo and Paolo O’Hara.
One of the entries in the full-length feature category of the 2018 Cinemalaya, it will be screened at various CCP venues and in select Ayala cinemas from August 3-12, 2018.
– Chikka Pa More ni Archie Liao