Full length Ilonggo film ‘CANDÈ’ aims to showcase Iloilo’s best

(From left) MMFF 2023 Best Supporting Actor JC Santos, seasoned actress Sunshine Teodoro, and the beauty queen and actress Pupa Dadivas were in Iloilo City last week for the filming of CANDÉ. (Mariela Angella Oladive photo)

By Mariela Angella Oladive

With post-production underway after the principal photography concluded on February 8, the anticipation for the upcoming all-Ilonggo film “CANDÈ” continues to build among Ilonggo audiences and beyond.

CANDÈ is the first full-length film by Ilonggo FAMAS winner and Director Kevin Piamonte that is set to showcase Iloilo’s best.

It promises to be more than just a movie but a showcase of Ilonggo’s rich heritage and spirit.

“This will showcase our Candelaria, Jaro, and the best of both Iloilo City and province,” said Atty. Penaflorida during a press conference following a courtesy visit of leading actors and the production team at Iloilo City Hall.

Candelaria refers to Nuestra Señora dela Candelaria or Our Lady of Candles, the patroness of Jaro district.

Supervising producer Bobby Rodriguez said the film will make every Ilonggo proud of their talents and culture.

“This film is for Ilonggos to feel proud of the Ilonggo talents, aside from the few import actors, anyone else are Ilonggos who are popular in their respective areas.”

The film boasts a stellar cast who are mostly Ilonggo, including three young children whose raw talents during the massive auditions stood out: Gian Pomperada (as young Timothy), Jan Junash Delima (as Boyboy) and Jullian Paul Larroder (as Dondon).

Supporting the lead cast are Ilonggo talents culled from auditions and previous work relations with the film’s creative team: Sharon Idone, Laragene Servando-Retazo, Skim Guevara, Tres Arandela, and Rachel Santillan-Aubert.

CANDÈ is about Timothy who goes home to Iloilo after 21 years to bury his only childhood playmate. Filled with bittersweet memories, he hopes to resolve the mysteriously tragic incident that greatly affected their friendship and finally free himself from the guilt that he has long carried with him.

Speaking about the film, lead MMFF 2024 best-supporting actor for the film “Mallari,” JC Santos expressed his enthusiasm for the film during an exclusive interview with Daily Guardian after he arrived in the city.

“I love the script una ko pa lang siya nabasa, kasi usually I am known for the role na nakakaiyak. It’s nostalgic, it goes back to your childhood, the feeling of being a child again. It’s nice and well-written by Director Kevin. I think I got into this role because I am somewhat emotional. So far it’s the script that got me the most,” the lead actor expressed.

Despite being a newcomer to the region, Santos embraced the challenge of portraying his character, particularly speaking the Hiligaynon language.

“It’s a challenge for me but buti na lang familiar yung dialect and madali siyang matutunan. I love it. Meron na akong konting background of the tone,” he said.

“This is a story of forgiveness towards people and oneself. It’s about letting go of guilt and being grateful for everything. I hope that when people watch this, they can feel the emotions we experienced while shooting it. I especially hope it resonates with the Ilonggo audience because this film is truly for them. This is the quintessential Filipino film, and I believe it will touch hearts and souls,” Santos added, inviting everyone to watch.

Joining Santos is the seasoned actress Sunshine Teodoro of Antique province, whose roots and knowledge of Ilonggo culture become an advantage for the portrayal of her character.

“First, I am an Antiqueña, I went here in Iloilo in college. So, alam ko yung kultura ng mga tao. I know how they eat and breathe. In a way yun yung pinaka-advantage ko, kasi una alam ko yung lenggwahe and alam ko rin yung pamumuhay ng tao,” Teodoro said.

She also shared that this is the first time that she will lead a full-length film by Piamonte.

Meanwhile, beauty queen and musician Pupa Dadivas, who will appear in a special role in the film, emphasized the significance of her character and shared how she prepared for the role.

“My role is a significant role. It’s the most important character actually… In terms of my preparation, I’m trying to embody the character because I am the total opposite, it will be hard for me to pull it up if it is the real me,” Dadivas said.

Using Hiligaynon in the film also has a different touch as “it feels so real,” she added.

The shooting, which started on January 30, was relatively brief for the principal photography, but the pre-production process began in April 2023.

The target release is either September or December 2024, but will mainly depend on post-production, according to the production team.

The journey of bringing “CANDÈ” to life has been a labor of passion, with the production team facing challenges, particularly in recreating the period setting.

But their commitment to capturing, or at least making it feel more authentic, is evident in the meticulous attention to detail that will be present in every frame.

Meanwhile, during the team’s courtesy visit to the city government, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas expressed his full support.

“Kon may kinahanglan kamo (If you need something), just tell me.”

The film’s production expressed gratitude for the support and endorsement given by the city government and Jaro Archbishop Jose Romeo Lazo.

Beyond its cinematic ambitions, “CANDÈ” serves a greater purpose by partnering with the Taos Puso Foundation, Inc. (TPFI), a non-governmental organization dedicated to empowering women and children in Iloilo and Guimaras.

Proceeds from the film will directly benefit TPFI’s livelihood project.