MANILA -- In 2015, five actresses teamed up to turn Jullie Yap-Daza’s best-selling novel, “Etiquette for Mistresses,” into a successful big screen romance-drama caper. The film, directed by Chito Rono, topbilled Iza Calzado, Claudine Barretto, Kris Aquino, Kim Chiu and Cheena Crab – whose characters invariably intertwined in the story.
Four years later, a new set of five actresses are teaming up for the iWant 's digital series, “Call Me Tita,” a light dramedy with Andoy Ranay at the helm. He worked on an eight-episode script, written by Noreen Capili and Patricia Valenzuela-Kent.
In Philippine society, "tita" has become not just a familiar tag, but a term of endearment for somebody who’s older and close to you. As Cherry Pie Picache said, “Life begins when you become a tita.”
In the series, Picache is successful bakery owner Ruth, the “Thirsty Tita” who has been married for 25 years to Jay Manalo, an unfaithful partner. Yet, she still yearns for excitement in life, as she has eyes for her sexy chef, Pablo. Unknown to Ruth’s husband, his cougar wife also engages in hanky panky trysts with their chef. The latter apparently wants money from Ruth, so he makes a sex video of their sex-capades.
Agot Isidro is erstwhile beauty queen Celine, the “Cool Tita,” who unsuccessfully made her showbiz bid. She is a media savvy and has more than a million of followers on social media. However, the family of her partner, a rich businessman (Nonie Buencamino), still does not approve of her relationship with the guy. Adding to her worries is her gay son, who dauntlessly came out of the closet and with a boyfriend to boot.
Joanna Ampil is human rights lawyer Maya, the “Hustler Tita” who inevitably gets into an affair with her friend’s hubby that started one afternoon when she couldn’t get a ride home. The affair brings her to tears, realizing she will forever be just the other woman. Yet, inspite of all those heartaches, Maya remains a good provider for her family.
Mylene Dizon is the “Demure Tita,” but battered wife, Frida, who had just ended her 15-year marriage with her American husband. Unknown to her friends, the yoga instructor finds comfort in the arms of a lesbian artist, Sam, played by Aiza Seguerra. Eventually, their relationship leads to romance and Frida gets the courage to call it quits with her husband – thanks to Sam.
Angelica Panganiban is the youngest Gabbi, the “Tita-in Training,” who needs to uncover the reality about her mom, apparently involved in the drug trade. As always, she’s the one who bails out her mom every time the latter gets tangled with the authorities. Gabbi gets involved with good-looking model, Carl, played by JC Santos.
Making her special participation in the series is Lorna Tolentino as Josa, the “Missing Tita,” Gabbi’s mom who often gets into trouble as she makes illegal dealings with a drug syndicate. Her character comes out problematic in the sixth episode, but still remains a caring mom to her daughter.
“Call Me Tita” focuses on interesting stories that can happen to just ordinary ladies. Though rare is a mom involved in a drug ring, as in the character of Tolentino, their lives come to terms with getting older and finding new purpose. The ladies uncover new layers in their friendship that will put their relationships to a test.
“Call Me Tita” tackles stories about friendship, relationships, mid-life crisis, acceptance, alliances, secrets and life’s purpose. The episodes are obviously relatable. Understandably, the ladies keep secrets to protect themselves or the people they love.
Everyone is constantly careful about exposing her little secret, as all of them grapple with their daily lives. The five different storylines of the respective ladies, plus the challenges they constantly go through, are inevitably linked in one way another. To begin with, they are all familiar with each other. Only, they keep secrets.
The quirks about getting older or maintaining their youthful looks are their main concerns, apart from their individual heartaches. The actresses don’t mind going sexy in front of the camera. They have no qualms doing kissing scenes, donning sexy lingerie or baring their skin, notwithstanding the flabs and the cellulites. They did everything “loud and proud.”
“A woman will reach a certain age na wala ng hiya, ano man ang shape ng katawan,” Ruth unabashedly said. “That’s called women empowerment.”
The actresses tried first time ventures in this series. Isidro does a bathtub scene, all covered in soap bubbles. Dizon pays lip service to Seguerra. Picache gets into bed scenes with her leading men – Jay Manalo and Mark McMahon. Ampil also gets into a daring exposure only in her brassiere. And they all don a white, two-piece lingerie, confidently.
The women are all undaunted. Amid all their troubles, problems and heartaches, they survive, they’re alive and they’re free.