Makati’s after-office crowd who stopped by the Ayala Triangle Friday, Valentine’s Day, were surprised to catch the romantic comedy classic One More Chance projected onto the giant Tower One and Exchange Plaza ceiling.
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But after the screening, another surprise awaited: an unannounced reading of the screenplay of another hit romcom: CinemaOne Originals' That Thing Called Tadhana. People cheered when Antonette Jadaone, the film’s director, was called onstage; she read the script directions—which she wrote herself.
But the crowd cheered louder when the next reader appeared from behind a black backdrop: a glowing Bea Alonzo. A few lines after, she was joined by — whoelse? — John Lloyd Cruz, in a rare public appearance. From the delighted faces in the small crowd, the stars of One More Chance — which has just been screened in the same space, and which plays a huge part in Jadaone’s film — was the Valentine they never thought they needed. She was in a royal blue overall, he was in a rust-colored jacket over a black tee. Both of them were wearing pony tails.
The two actors assumed the popular roles of Mace and Anthony, the film’s lead characters, played by Angelica Panganiban (a John Lloyd ex) and JM de Guzman in the movie. They approached the roles with the ease of two friends making HOHOL. Bea’s Mace is less hysterical and more naive than Angelica’s often distraught and gullible hopeless romantic heroine. John Lloyd’s Anthony is more suave and experienced than JM’s earnest everyguy.
It’s been almost five years since the onscreen couple officially worked together — unless you count that strange, DIY-looking Turks commercial where it looked like something unfortunate was going to happen to Bea at the end. But the years apart don’t show and it looked like they stepped out of the set of 2014’s A Second Chance just a few days ago.
I guess that’s what 16 years of working together can do — a partnership that outlasted all their personal romantic entanglements. They tease each other onstage — like when the Anthony character references the real life John Lloyd (described in the film as “hindi kaguwapuhan”). Or when the dialogue hits too close to home—as in when the script mentions the name Gerald Anderson. Bea would rub her partner's back in a scene where it’s Anthony’s turn to unload his hugots—and suddenly it’s also Bea rubbing John Lloyd’s back and comforting him. “Makaka-recover ka,” Anthony tells Mace, but it’s also John Lloyd telling Bea she’ll get over that last heartbreak, that it too shall pass.
Before the script reading proper, Philbert Dy, critic and co-curator of the The Unconfined Cinema — the Art Fair Philippines’ film program this year — said the evening’s exercise was just one of the ways they decided to explore how else audiences can expand their experience of cinema. With the Ayala Tower One event, Dy and co-curator Erwin Romulo were able to show that movies don’t always have to be experienced in enclosed dark quarters, and that the film script, when you think about it, is already cinema in itself.
But they got to hand it to John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo who really took this “expanding the experience” idea to its deeply satisfying end result — by referencing not only their personas but their personal affairs, by finding humor in their own foibles, by investing the reading not only with their talents but with their own intimacy as friends and longtime work partners. If a script is already indeed cinema, these two just made Tonette Jadaone’s That Thing Called Tadhana a lot like life—maybe even larger.
Photo and video by Tammy David