Dubai-based director turns OFW experience into a psychological horror film 'Lamentasyon'

Leah C. Salterio

Posted at Apr 08 2021 02:19 PM | Updated as of Apr 08 2021 02:38 PM

MANILA -- Undergoing depression when the pandemic started last year brought about a major change for filmmaker Chino Pereira. 

For one, he decided to change his name from his real name, Archie P. Enriquez.

“My nickname when I was in college was Chickinito,” Pereira disclosed to ABS-CBN News. “My mother’s maiden name is Pereira. After I have undergone depression during the pandemic, Chino Pereira is my preferred name now. It symbolizes my new beginning and new journey in my career and life.”

It was also during this pandemic that Pereira was inspired to work on a horror story, “Lamentasyon,” a semi-autobiographical account of his life. He wrote the draft of the script with his best friend, Engelbert Chua.

“The word ‘lamentasyon (lamentation)’ is described as passionate grieving and it reminds me of the passion of the Christ during Lenten season,” Pereira said. “I recall that one of my vows during my childhood was to read the ‘Pabasa’ from start to finish.

“The word ‘lamentasyon’ was one of the words chanted in ‘Aral’ that really captivated me since then. It reminded me of the sorrow of the Christ and His sacrifices for humanity.”

The story of “Lamentasyon” was culled from Pereira’s stay in Dubai. "I experienced homesickness and financial difficulties to support my family,” Pereira revealed. “I decided to make a psychological-horror story, because living abroad is not easy especially on your first three months.

“I recalled my first months here, when I experienced depression and paranoia that something wrong might happen to my family and I am not there to protect them.”

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Since he started his filmmaking career in 2009, Pereira was always fond of making psychological-horror films with unique twists. 

One of them was the short film, “Switch,” about a woman who was physically and mentally abused by the people around her. Her fate changed when she switched her life with the alternate version of herself in a parallel dimension. 

To find his actors for “Lamentasyon,” Pereira created a Facebook page called People On The Go (POTG) and "gathered talents in Dubai, who also shared the same passion in filmmaking and acting.”

“They underwent weekly, intensive acting workshop and most of our contents in the page are skits, short films and acting showcases. I decided to give them their respective roles based on their acting capabilities and personalities,” he said.

Streaming on April 8 and 9, “Lamentasyon” is presented by Upnext Studio and People On The Go (POTG) in collaboration with VivaMax Middle East. Online distributor is KTX under ABS-CBN.

“Our equipment are from Upnext Studio and talent management is with People On The Go,” Pereira said. “VivaMax Middle East helped us with the film distribution in cinemas here in Dubai.”

He actually owns Upnext Studio, whose main services are videography, photography and animation in Dubai. But with their projects cancelled due to the lockdown, they decided to film “Lamentasyon.” VivaMax Middle East was contacted after the post-production for the film distribution.

The film, which merited an R-15 rating, depicts the struggles and hardships of OFWs in Dubai. The story, dialogue and plot are based on real-life experience of Filipinos working in the Middle East.

“I supposed the rating came from the intensity of horror and some violence during the climax,” the director explained. 

The all-Filipino cast of “Lamentasyon” are Jiro Tejero as Samuel Arcangel, Arnold Briones as Gerry, Vhie Laurilla as Magda, Mariah Jewel as Mika, Virgo Cueto as Cheska, Rachelle Claire Melchor as Kathryn, Mark Diokno as Roman;

Yasmin Balajadia-Cortes (wife of Consulate General Paul Raymond Cortes) as Mrs. Torres, Kevin Ocampo as Brent, Emerson Ugay as Mark, Casey Malana as Kaye, Miah Alimajen as Vernie;

Bryan Apalla as Gerald, Megasam Coronel as Osang, Josh Lorenzo as Josh, Lee Alberto as Smiling Man, MJ Sarile as John Paul, Cedric Ureta as Joel, Alaina Packer as Cathy and Mylene Pencil as Sandra.

Pereira’s co-writer, Chua, plays a pivotal role as Dr. Mendoza in the film. “He is a horror film enthusiast,” Pereira said of his best friend. “He used to be a writer in his school [Lyceum of the Philippines University]. For ‘Lamentasyon,’ he helped me develop the scenes, plot and dialogue.”

Pereira made his directorial debut in 2009 with the film, “Tenant,” a horror thriller. “It was experimental and the technology back then was really dated,” he said of his film debut. “Since then, I got interested in filmmaking and I always find time watching YouTube tutorials which enhanced my skills.

“I was promoted as a creative specialist in our company when they found out that I could edit videos and could do graphic design. In succeeding years, I joined several film contests here in Dubai and bagged some awards.”

He was recognized by The Filipino Times as Filmmaker of the Year in 2017 and he bagged Best Films and Best Director awards in Emirates Short Film Festival for his short film, “Kaarawan.”

Pereira was truly proud when he was accorded those awards. “That was my turning point to make something bigger which is ‘Lamentasyon’,” he beamed.

Based in Dubai since 2008, Pereira developed his filmmaking skills there, although he tried his hand at directing some stage plays in college at Adamson University. In Dubai, he put up APE and Company, which also stands for Archie P. Enriquez, his real name.

Working in “Lamentasyon,” Pereira showed the beauty and grandeur of Dubai, which he contrasted with the plight of OFWs.

“I depicted the real-life situation of OFWs in Dubai,” Pereira said. “Despite the beauty of Dubai, life of Filipinos here are unique in a sense that we are really hardworking, resourceful and family-oriented.

“Unfortunately, some Filipinos here brought their negative traits, like crab mentality and envy, which I also discussed in one of the scenes. I also based the scene on my real life experience here. Some people destroyed my name in public, humiliated me in social media and even created stories and lies just to prove that they are right.”

Pereira keeps the faith that his latest work, “Lamentasyon,” will not just help the plight of OFWs in Dubai, but also inspire to alleviate their hard work of constantly providing for their respective families.