Independent filmmaker Joselito “Jay” Altarejos, whose work “Pink Halo-Halo” is competing in this year’s Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, says his goal is to have the movie seen by as many schoolchildren as possible.
Altarejos is one of five filmmakers in Cinemalaya’s first-ever Directors’ Showcase category. “Pink Halo-Halo” is up against Mark Meily’s “Isang Pirasong Pangarap,” Joel Lamangan’s “Sigwa,” Mario O’Hara’s “Ang Paglilitis ni Andres Bonifacio” and Gil Portes’ “Two Funerals.”
“Halo-Halo” is about Natoy (Paolo Constantino), who finds joy in the simplest things, especially in eating halo-halo with pink gelatin and red sago. Thus he leads his simple and happy life until, one day, he catches a TV report about a wounded soldier pleading for rescue. The soldier is his father. Natoy’s sudden transition into adulthood starts when he and his mother Sonia seek help.
“More than touring the film abroad, I’d like to arrange screenings in at least 20 schools nationwide,” Altarejos told Inquirer Entertainment recently. “Cinemalaya films should reach a bigger audience than those who go to the Cultural Center of the Philippines.”
He added, “It doesn’t matter if they can’t pay for tickets. I’d like students, especially in the provinces, to see this movie.”
“Pink Halo-Halo,” written in 2004, was Altarejos’ final paper in a Creative Writing course at the University of the Philippines. “I dreamt of making a movie out of it,” he said. “It wasn’t exactly easy.”
Altarejos earlier directed the indie films “Ang Lalaki sa Parola,” “Ang Lihim ni Antonio” and “Ang Laro sa Buhay ni Juan.” While he normally finished a film in three days, he said, “Halo-Halo” took a week.
“We had a lot of day scenes and exterior scenes. Since our lead actor was a minor, we couldn’t work late at night. We were bound by the rules of the Department of Labor and Employment,” Altarejos explained.
The film was shot in San Jacinto, Masbate. He recounted, “We tried to get help from the provincial government, but since it was election period, the officials had other priorities.”
The Directors’ Showcase category is for Filipino filmmakers, who have directed at least three full-length feature films that have been released commercially.
Altarejos refused to be pressured by being pitted against veteran and award-winning directors Lamangan, Portes, O’Hara and Meily.
“I’m not after awards,” Altarejos stressed. “I just want to make a decent film. Winning would be a bonus.”
He added: “It was tough getting into the competition. I have a lot of good friends whose movies were rejected.”“Pink Halo-Halo” also features Allen Dizon, Angeli Bayani, Dexter Doria and Mark Fabillar. The 2010 Cinemalaya film fest will be held at the CCP from July