Paul Soriano finds voice, freedom in ‘Mañanita’

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"Mañanita" director Paul Soriano and actress Bela Padilla

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 15) — Director and producer Paul Soriano had taken the helm of some successful and talked-about films in the recent decade, and now his most recent creation entitled “Mañanita.”

“It’s a very personal film to me in the sense [that] I put all my whole heart [to it]. This is a passion project for me,” Soriano, the son of filmmaker and religious leader Jeric Soriano, told CNN Philippines’ The Source Friday.

“When you can finally do a passion project, it just means that [aside from business], you’re allowed to now play and have some fun. And as a filmmaker you want that freedom,” he added..

Written by renowned Filipino director Lav Diaz, "Mananita" tells the story of a woman named “Edilberta,” whose dismissal from the military took her to a new journey of finding peace and forgiveness. The role is portrayed by actress Bela Padilla.

The film, which took three years to be finished, recently competed in the 32nd Tokyo International Film Festival in Japan.

“These are the kinds of stories that I really wanna tell. This is kind of my path, this is kind of my voice,” he said.

"Mananita," Soriano shared, was inspired by the anti-drug campaign by Davao police, wherein authorities serenade supposed drug users as they plead for them to stop using the illegal substance, commonly called "tokhang."

"I found it very interesting. I got to meet the chief (of police) and [his] team, and I did my research," he said.

For Padilla, the power of the movie comes from the silence of her character.

“She’s an isolation, but it’s a self-imposed isolation. And I love that, I love how they wrote the character. She chose to stay alone even after leaving the military.

Taking on the role, she said, is a leap of faith.

“I think more than what the role was or what the film was, I was at a point in my life that everything that I do was so fixed, everything was so planned except for this film,” Padilla said.

She said the film is close to the heart of Filipinos as it shows current realities.

“It’s so real. We are talking a little bit about the state of the nation without saying too much. We want you to take about what it is in your perspective, whatever your status in life is, I feel like you will still start thinking when you watch the film,” she said.