Althea Vega (MNS Photo)

Althea Vega (MNS Photo)

By the time she had her first starring role in the upcoming period film “Amor Y Muerte,” actress Althea Vega was already used to going nude in films.

As the title character in the Cesar Evangelista film, which is competing in the Director’s Showcase section at this year’s Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, Vega portrays a sex-deprived “india” who satisfies her sexual urges with her Spanish colonizers.

Set in the 16th century, “Amor Y Muerte,” explores the “subjugation” of Filipino women during the rule of Spaniards in the Philippines.

Explaining the plot of the film during a press conference held Wednesday, Evangelista said, “Originally, [ang mga kababaihan noon], ‘di naman wild, kundi expressive sa lahat, sa kanilang pamumuhay, sa beliefs, sa sex, sa lahat.”

“Tapos nabago sila ng mga Espanyol. Kung paano sila nabago, iyon ang ipapakita ng pelikula,” the director said.

Explaining her part in the film, Vega added, “’Yung character ko dito is wild siya, so she wants to satisfy her sexual desires, so marami po silang mapapnood dito na love scenes. Pero ‘yun nga, hindi lang po ito basta-basta sex movie. Based po ito sa history natin.”

Vega, who has appeared in several independent films, said she didn’t find the nudity and sex scenes required of in “Amor” particularly challenging.

“Noong nabasa ko [ang script] nitong ‘Amor Y Muerte,’ nagustuhan ko po siya. ‘Ito, gagawin ko ‘to,’ sabi ko. Wala po akong takot, wala po akong qualms sa nudity, kasi my first film, may love scene narin,” she said, referring to the Joel Lamangan film “Walang Kawala.”

“So ayon po, after that, tuluy-tuloy na, nasanay na ako,” she said.

Evangelista attested that there wasn’t much “motivation” needed for Vega in preparation for her intimate scenes.

“Based on the script, alam na niya ang gagawin niya, so ang motivation madali nalang. Hindi talaga mahirap, kasi magaling siya eh,” he said.

Praising her leading men in “Amor” – Markki Stroem and Adrian Sebastian – Vega said that her co-stars’ professionalism helped in filming parts of the project without a hitch.

‘First choice’

Beyond her willingness to take on a role with several nude scenes, Vega came “highly recommended” by Evangelista’s peers, as well as by Cinemalaya organizers for her talent in acting.

“First choice,” Evangalista said, of Vega playing Amor. “Unang-una, ‘yung role, sa pagkakasulat ni Jerry Grasio, bagay sa kanya – Filipina, ‘india.’”

“Tapos highly recommended din siya ng mga taga-Cinemalaya, si Ms. Laurice Guillen (chairman), nila Mel Chionglo (monitoring committee head), na parang nakikita raw nila na ‘yung gumaganap doon sa Amor role ay si Althea Vega na napanood na nila sa ilang palabas sa Cinemalaya,” he said.

Last year, the indie actress had supporting roles in two films in the New Breed section of Cinemalaya – Mes de Guzman’s “Diablo” and Aloy Adlawan’s “Ang Katiwala.”

Evangelista even told the actress not to attend the “omnibus auditions” for all the competing Cinemalaya films. “Sabi ko, ‘Wag ka na magpunta, baka kunin ka pa ng iba,’” he said.
Vega gamely took on the project, citing it as her “biggest break” so far.

“Hindi ko po [na-imagine na magiging bida ako], kaya sobrang thankful po ako kasi sa akin po nila pinagkatiwala itong movie,” she said.

“Amor Y Muerte” also stars Mico Palanca, Kuya Manzano, Amante Pulido, and the late veteran theater actress Ama Quiambao in her last film role.

The 9th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival will run from July 26 to August 24 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in Pasay City, TriNoma in Quezon City, Greenbelt 3 in Makati City, and Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa City. (MNS)