POKWANG – THE ACTRESS BEHIND THE COMEDIAN
By Pablo A. Tariman
With her screen name and the brand of comedy she is associated with, indeed it is hard to imagine Pokwang as a dramatic actress.
Her punch lines on and off screen can send one rolling on the floor.
For one, she arrives in the presscon with proper welcome bouquet and as though that wasn’t enough, she showers herself with petals imagining them as a shower of confetti on her make-believe parade. She relishes the moment as the crowd bursts into laughter.
Indeed, she is quick to demolish herself as a serious person with punch lines and antics that easily give a wrong impression she cannot go beyond comedy.
For one, she treats the English language as an invitation to make fun of herself.
Director John D. Lazatin relates Pokwang literally had fever on first day of shooting of “Edsa Woolworth” where she plays the title role. Her supporting cast are mostly Americans and Fil-Americans and how would she fare in the language she claims is just too strange to her?
She would start an interview with kittenish requests like, “Sir huwag naman sobrang lalim ng English” or “Puede Taglish na lang Sir?”
Rues Direk John: “As I see it, comedy is just a façade in her reel and real life. Behind a funny woman is an actor who can look at her own life and accept it on her own terms. Her real life is virtual teleserye and I thought there must be something in her worth harnessing as a serious actress. I must admit this film was conceptualized for her. After working with her in ‘a Mother’s Story,’ I thought it deserves a follow up as she has enough sad chapters as overseas Filipino to make acting real and effective for this new project.”
Co-actor Stephen Spohn who plays Pokwang’s stepfather says the comedian’s funny façade helps break the ice on the set.
He points out: “This film has many dramatic episodes enough to darken the mood on the set. But with her around, we enjoy moments of fun and at the same time, focus when the camera starts grinding. Pokwang is a different person when the scene calls for her to forget her comic side. She is always ready with her part and at the same time she makes effort to closely collaborate with her co-actors and contribute her part on how to make the scene more real and effective. It was sheer delight working with her.”
Direk John ribs the media by saying it was tough making Pokwang shift from comedy to drama to which Pokwang pretends she is hurt. “But you’d be surprised that after giving her time to immerse into the part, she delivers without effort and gives the character the nuances it deserves.”
Pokwang replies: “I did my best because I know I am in good company. My role is tough so to speak but when I see my co-actors and director give me the support that I badly need, acting becomes effortless and natural. It becomes a real challenge para pagbutihin ko ang aking trabaho.”
Earlier, Pokwang admitted that the sad chapters in many a comedian’s life make them better actors. “I like to treat them as part of growing up. They are also good when motivating yourself for a film role approximating the same life.”
Earlier in one of those rare moments, actor Zanjoe Marudo offered a good testimonial on how she finds Pokwang as colleague and friend. “I have worked many times with her and what strikes me about her personal life is that she is a good mother and a good friend. It’s not hard to like Pokwang. Character-wise, she is beautiful inside and out and mind you, she has a beautiful body.”
Others in the cast of “Edsa Woolworth” are Lee O’Brian, Ricci Chan, Prince Saruhan, Lee Robin Salazar and Princess Ryan. It opens in all cinemas on January 14.