MANILA -- Pop diva Kuh Ledesma said she could not say no when she was offered to do Danny Zialcita’s “Tinimbang ang Langit,” in 1982 -- even if the role required her to wear a bathing suit and pay lip-service to one of the country’s top dramatic actors, Christopher de Leon.
Nearly four decades later, the singer fondly recalled how she landed the role of Victoria, a talented singer who gets torn between love and career.
“The movie was written for a singer and I do believe I was the first choice,” Ledesma told ABS-CBN News. “Because at that time, me and my band, the Music and Magic, were doing very well and had a huge following.
“I believe that I was specifically chosen to play the part [of Victoria], because there were no auditions done. The script was presented to me and I was asked if I would like to do the movie. The story was interesting. The role was tailor-made for me. That was the reason I accepted the role.”
Although “Tinimbang ang Langit” was not her big screen debut – she previously made a cameo in Peque Gallaga’s opus, “Oro, Plata Mata” (1982), where she played a diwata – Ledesma had no second thoughts about accepting the role that became close to her heart.
“I got very excited, because I had wanted to try the movies, although I was still very shy at that time,” Ledesma recalled. “I thought there would be more things that would prepare me before filming the movie.
“I imagine rehearsals with the other actors or doing workshops and script-reading, but it didn’t happen that way. We were just called to start filming and we were given our lines on the day of the shoot.”
When she learned she would be working with De Leon, accepting “Tinimbang ang Langit” became a no-brainer for Ledesma. “I was glad it was Christopher,” she said. “First of all, he is a very good actor and good-looking, too.
“Christopher was a really nice co-star. He made me feel comfortable in acting, being just a neophyte in the movies at that time. His professionalism helped me a lot.”
Aside from Ledesma and De Leon, “Tinimbang ang Langit” also starred Rio Locsin, Suzanne Gonzales, Odette Khan and the late Anita Linda.
The film was partly shot in Baguio and the scenes in the summer capital were the most memorable for Ledesma. “For me, the most memorable was the scene we shot in Baguio, where I was cuddling with Christopher,” Ledesma shared. “I think that was really a heartwarming scene. It felt natural for me.
“I also loved the beach scenes. I loved recording the songs, especially ‘Minsan sa Isang Panahon.’ I am very hard on myself in my recording, but that song came easy for me.”
Working with Zialcita was a breeze for Ledesma. “He was very easy to work with,” she said of her director. “There were not too many demands, but that’s why I felt I wished he demanded more in my acting. He could have pushed more in bringing out the best in me.”
Yet, the most challenging part of playing Victoria for Ledesma in “Tinimbang ang Langit” was definitely not the singing. Wearing a bathing suit and doing kissing scenes with De Leon proved to be a tall order for her.
“I was very shy and so the kissing scenes looked pigil,” she laughed.
The soundtrack of “Tinimbang ang Langit” was replete with beautiful, original tunes, from the haunting “Completely” to the slightly upbeat “Try a Little Suicide.”
“I love the song ‘Completely’,” Ledesma said. “Now, when I think about it, the song ‘Try A Little Suicide’ should not have been part of the album. I wish it wasn’t included in the movie.
“I believe in the power of words and I don’t want to be saying negative words like ‘suicide.’ The song may have a different meaning about it, but still, the word ‘suicide’ has a negative connotation, especially these days, when there are so many young people who suffer from depression.
“There are so many beautiful songs in the movie – ‘Nasaan Ka, Paano Ako’ and ‘Hanggang Kailan’ are such beautiful songs by Butch Monserrat, Ed Formoso and Gilbert Gregorio.”
After her full-length role in “Tinimbang ang Langit,” Ledesma played a minor part in Peter Weir’s “The Year of Living Dangerously” (1982), with Mel Gibson and Linda Hunt, filmed in Olongapo. However, Ledesma stopped acting on the big screen after that year.
“I guess I was not really interested in making movies,” Ledesma said. “I will be honest. I really didn’t feel that ‘Tinimbang ang Langit’ was a great experience for me in terms of my acting.
“The script was given to us on the first day of shoot. Then the shooting just ended abruptly. I felt there were so many things that we could have done to make the movie more interesting. But then, that’s Danny Zialcita.
“Also, I was really, really busy doing a lot of concerts and so making movies was not really one of those things I would say a priority, although I wished another movie was written for me.”
Ledesma is nonetheless very grateful that after nearly four decades, “Tinimbang ang Langit” was recently brought back into its original state by ABS-CBN Film Restoration. The film suffered not only visual impairments, but also audio distortion. An alternative audio source abroad was even used to help restore the film’s sound, that included a lot of songs Ledesma rendered.
“This is my one and only musical movie,” Ledesma said. “Even the soundtrack was also restored. I believe that it is a worthwhile film to restore, because I believe people enjoy watching it again and again.
“I am pleasantly surprised when people tell me they enjoyed watching the film. I guess because the actors did a good job. The story is interesting and the songs are well written.”
No wonder, Ledesma feels privilege to have worked with some of the most passionate songwriters of her time. “What an honor to have been given those beautiful songs to record and be identified with them,” she said. “Thirty nine years have passed and the songs, I believe, are really timeless.”