By By Pablo A. Tariman
Direk Joel Lamangan on the proliferation of ‘Significant Others’ in Philippine Society
posted 4-Mar-2018  ·  
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Direk Joel Lamangan with Lovi Poe and Erich Gonzales. The presence of the 'significant other' in Philippine society is a common occurrence.

On this balmy noonday encounter, Direk Joel Lamangan smiles with a certain weariness that says he has been through this presscon ritual before every opening of his new project.

He knows he will be asked about the film’s infamous slapping scene that became viral on the internet. Like it or not, it bodes well for a good public acceptance and a good sign in the box office.

His latest film, The Significant Other, is about two best friends (Lovi Poe and Erich Gonzales) who found themselves sharing one man (Tom Rodriguez). As the story goes, both parties are not inclined to give way for the sake of the other.

Hence the bloody confrontation in the film that became a big cyber feast for netizens.

Direk Joel says nothing is new about this marital set up which is common in Philippine society.

To illustrate, a speaker of the house makes news referring to his girl friend as his new partner even as his present wife professes love and fidelity to the famous husband on prime-time television.

The director admits it happens every day and for some reasons, they no longer shock. He is not surprised it is a practice that is taken with quiet acceptance by both parties. “For this reason, I enjoyed doing this film. It is subject that everybody in the neighborhood could relate to.”

Even as the story is not new, the director says it is something that the new generation can accept for what it is. “Let’s face it, some men are not happy with just one partner. I know of one whose life revolves around many relationships. He has a stable marriage but as the years grow, husband would look for younger partners he would refer to as the significant other. Well, this is a fact of life we just have to face. Morality has nothing to do with it. When society confronts it without condemnation, you realize this is what makes the world go around. You’d be surprised it happens in both high and low places.”

The stars playing wives in the film are all praises for Direk Joel’s sensitive handling of the story. For all they know, the story has the makings of a teleserye, but the director made sure the cast did their parts with none of the acting clichés coming out.

“When you work with Direk Joel,“ says Snooky who plays wife coming from the not-so-well off class, “you know you are in the presence of one who knows his craft. For this reason, you have to be ready for anything that he will ask you to do in the set. He doesn’t settle for so-so approach. You have to feel it with all your heart and then deliver the lines with passion showing. Ayaw niya ng bara-bara lang. The comparison may not be accurate but Direk Joel reminds of Tito Lino Brocka with whom I worked a lot earlier in my career.”

Dina Bonnevie who plays the upper-class mother opines working with Direk Joel has a lot of plus factors for the actor.

“When you work with Direk Joel, you know that you just have to give your best. He doesn’t like mechanical acting. You have to dig deep in your emotions to get what he wants and deliver it the most natural way possible. When you live up to his expectations he is one director who will commend you on the spot. I’ve been through many directors in my film life and I would say that Direk Joel raised the bar for acting and directing. It prods you to be better than your last performance. For me, he is the Maestro of film.”

Joel Lamangan’s The Significant Other starring Lovi Poe, Tom Rodriguez, and Lovi Poe opened  in cinemas last February 21.

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