Friday, June 22, 2012

MARIFE NECESITO: Portrait of an underrated Filipina actress turned international sensation

As lingers the convoluted fixation of both the Philippine entertainment industry and the Filipino audience to outdated Western standards, the collective journey of topnotch local actors’ remain stagnated to undervaluation. Despite global recognition as first-rate thespians, the obsolete yet prevailing domestic ambivalence frequently relegate them to inconsequential roles.

One such locally unappreciated performer, Filipina actress Marife Necesito laments on how her acting ability is mistreated by local show business stakeholders despite the locally unknown red-carpet treatment she receives from foreign film dignitaries in various international film festivals. What she describes as her painful journey in the local entertainment milieu is but detestable in that she usually ends up underrated vis-à-vis mediocre but fair-skinned and pretty-faced local actors.

This lamentation from an internationally-acclaimed Filipina actress is not without basis as it is noteworthy to examine what Marife Necesito is made up that she needs to endure the prejudices and prejudgment by powerbrokers in her own country’s entertainment industry.

Marife Necesito is a professional stage, film and TV actress/ commercial model in the Philippines. She is a member of Balintataw Film & Theater Arts of the UNESCO Philippine Center for International Theater Institute (ITI).

She was trained by senior thespians Cecille Guidote Alvarez and Angie Ferro. In theater, various works can be credited to her. For Dulaang Bonifacio, she did August Strindberg, “Miss Julie” as Julie, Jose Rizal’s “Elias and Salome (Excerpt)”as Salome - For Balintataw Theater Group, she was a part of “Trojan Women” under the direction of Nikos Shiafkalis, as “Perla” in the stage adaptation of the award-winning film “Maynila Sa Kuko ng Liwanag”, as “Juli” in “El Filibusterismo” and as “Lucing/Penang” in “Without Seeing the Dawn”.

Other stage plays where Marife displayed exemplary performance include Des Bautista’s “Heroes of Ilocos” as Princess Urduja, “Movie Reporters on the Loose VI” as Amanda K., and “Square Paradise” as Simplicia.  Her more recent theater involvements are “Sarong Banggi” and playing the lead role in Diosdado Sa. Anzures’ Palanca award-winning play “Digmaan”, recurrently restaged as “Awit kay Ana (Song for Ana)” by theater director Noel Estonilo Miralles around Metro Manila, nearby key cities and outlying provinces.
Marife has also done numerous TVC works. She appeared in Nescafe, Western Union, Tide detergent powder, and Cream silk Hair conditioner to name a few. She has done two station IDs for The Filipino Channel and Cinema One, both of ABS-CBN, one of the largest TV networks in the country.

Possessing an acting talent considered by critics as highly remarkable, Marife has done drama shows with the rivalling television networks. In GMA-7, she acted in “Kung Mamahalin Mo Lang   Ako”, “Mahika”, “Magpakailanman”, “Obra”, “Amaya”, and lately “Adarna”. In ABS-CBN, she appeared in drama shows such as “I Love Betty la Fea” (Filipino version), “Bituing Walang Ningning”, “Krystala”, “Maalaala Mo Kaya” and “Lastikman”. Shows she got involved with in other networks include “KKK: Crisis Against Crime”, “Pangarap Kong Jackpot”, “Count Your Blessings”, KROKO” and she was part of the television series in ABS-CBN, entitled, "Tanging Yaman".

In 2008, Marife acted in the movie TROPICAL MANILA, a Korean film, directed by Sang Woo Lee. TROPICAL MANILA has been selected for competition at the ROTTERDAM INTERNATIONAL Film Festival (2008) and VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL FILM Festival (2008). Likewise, in the year 2011, Marife was nominated as Best Supporting Actress in the film "KA ORYANG", for her truthful, convincing and powerful performance, directed by Sari Dalena. The said film won, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Sound in CINEMAONE ORIGINALS Competition.

In international cinema, Marife made noise as the “underrated Filipina actress turned international sensation”. Her later film is Memfis Production’s “Mammoth” directed by award-winning Swedish director Lukas Moodysson where she plays the role of “Gloria” one of the lead character, opposite Gael Garcia Bernal and Oscar Awards nominee Michelle Williams. The film is one of the official selections for the Main competition of the 59th BERLINALE FILM FESTIVAL (2009). She also got nominated as Best Actress in 11th CINEMANILA film festival for international main competition category in the same film. 
Marife has done other international films as well. She played the challenging role of “Jocasta” under the direction of Singaporean filmmaker Chew Tze Chuan entitled “Carnaval”. She was a “Dong Ha” Bar Girl in Sidney Furie’s “Going Back”. This Canadian-based Production was shown in HBO. It also include "Black Market Love" an American independent film, directed by Beau Ballinge.

In the Philippines, Marife has worked with internationally-acclaimed director Lav Diaz for two films namely “Heremias Book 2” as “Neneng” and “Evolution of Filipino Family” as “Hilda”. The latter was featured in different international film festivals such as, AUSTIN ASIAN FILM Festival (2006), UNDERDOX FILM Festival (2006), 20th FRIBOURG INTERNATIONAL FILM Festival (2006), 21st MAR DE PLATA INTERNATIONAL FILM Festival (2006), 23rd TORINO FILM Festival (2005), VIENNALE VIENNA INTERNATIONAL FILM Festival (2005), 32nd FLANDERS 7th BARCELONA ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL (2005),  29th GOTEBORG FILM Festival (2005),34th INTENATIOANL FILM FESTIVAL ROTTERDAM (2005), 29th TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM Festival (2004) and 27th ASIAN AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL FILM Festival (2004). “Evolution of a Filipino Family” won Best Picture in 2005 GAWAD URIAN.Marife has also played the role of “Espie” in Dennis Empalmado’s “PANDANGGO”. It was one of the official selection of LOS ANGELES ASIAN PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL (2007), in   exhibition in CINEMA INDIO LOS ANGELES (2007) and finalist in CINEMAONE ORIGINALS.

In 2006, her film “RAPTURA” directed by Ron Bryant was featured in the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival. Her more recent films also include Adolfo Alix’s “KARERA”,"PITIK-BULAG" (Blindluck) directed by Gil Portes, "MONDOMANILA", directed by Khavn Dela Cruz, "GRACELAND" directed by New York-based director Ron Morales. "LINABO" a short film directed by Aleksi Gumela, "DARKEST NIGHT" directed by Noel Tan, "KAPATID (BROTHERS)", a short film directed by Steven Flor, and "TAKSIKAB" and "ANG MISIS NI MEYOR" directed by Archie DEL MUNDO. Her upcoming films include “AGONISTES” directed by Lav Diaz.

Of late, in "LILET NEVER HAPPENED”, a Dutch film directed by Jacco Groen, Marife already won the Best Acting Ensemble award from the International Film Festival of Manhattan (New York City).

The golden era when local performers of her caliber are finally granted rightful recognition is yet to dawn in Philippine cinema. And while the both the powerbrokers and audiences in the local mainstream entertainment industry keep their eyes shut in the face of world-class talents like Marife Necesito, thus will it remain dead despite the emergence of alternatives that will soon bury it to extinction.


MELBA is the wife of a slain farmer-leader whose murder is attributed to an incumbent governor. She goes to the city to appeal the case and to seek out a new life after the tragedy. Working as a staff member at the office of City Councilor MARTIN MORALES, she is introduced to the life inside politics. Eventually she will be deeply involved, as her decision to marry the budding politician lays a carefully planned agenda.

Written and directed by Archie Delmundo
Produced by Eightfold Path Cinema Production


 The film is a narrative piece aimed at exploring the powerful and pervasive forces driving Manila's criminal underworld (such as kidnapping, child prostitution and illegal organ trafficking) and lensing them through focus of an international thriller. Directed by Ron Morales (Sta. Mesa) . Graceland was been chosen as second place  audience choice award at TRIBECA Film Festival (2012) and in competition at FANTASIA film festival (2012).

Friday, April 6, 2012


Based on the story and screenplay by Emmanuel Dela Cruz.

Adapted for stage by Archie Del Mundo . Jaclyn is an aging prostitute who is hired by a group of friends for Nyoy , the group's birthday boy and only virgin. When they discover that Jaclyn isn't actually the mid-twenties hottie she described herself to be, they diss her and head out to the nearest bar to catch younger girls for the birthday boy. Nyoy who seems to have something more in his mind, wanders from the bar and back to Jaclyn. Jaclyn and Nyoy develop a bond that we later discover, is something more than friendship.

Monday, October 24, 2011


A Lukas Moodysson Film.

Doing the right thing for one's family provides the impetus for the goings on in Mammoth, a magnificent tale of turmoil now lighting up screens at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Made from filmmakers based in Scandinavia this English language film is smart from start to finish. Director/writer Lukas Moodysson winds up the tension and never lets up as folks intertwine from different cultures.

Consider Mammoth to be in the same league as other recent classics like Traffic, Crash and Babel. Similarities come due to the intertwining nature of the characters and plot. And that immigrant experience plays a pivotal role also in the story as we see our central characters take up shop in both New York and the Philippines with a few exotic hot spots thrown nicely into the mix.

Lifestyle means everything to many folks. New York residents Leo and Ellen Vidales seem to have it all. Luxury suits their image as Leo is a rich entrepreneur of sorts while wife Ellen is a doctor. Being busy is an understatement so these parents need to have a maid to look after their daughter. Part of the family is Gloria who hails from the Philippines.

Contrast the standard of living of most people who live in the Philippines with the rich jet set in New York and you can almost sense the tensions that may develop - not to mention the jealousies. Moodysson does a brilliant job showing the different life styles in both areas and into the mix provides room for all the main characters to grow.

Better casting could not be found. Gael Garcia Bernal (Y Tu Mama Tambien) does a great job as a man at a crossroads trying to wrestle with his conscience while Michelle Williams' rendering of a doctor and mom is equally scintillating. Shots at the hospital look very authentic and are intense as are the emotions Mrs. Vidales has to grapple with, often bottled up from within.

Maybe the best way to describe this film is through the character of the maid. Marife Necesito shines bright as a nanny with problems at home and a desire to make money for those she's left behind. Turmoil rages within her soul as she's left her children behind which many immigrants can relate to. And those mid-life crises moments are also well revealed in this intriguing 125 minute movie.

Big business and all its ethics also are explored in this sensational movie that examines one family and how its employees and co-workers can impact others a world away. Must see entertainment for those who care about families and friends, Mammoth is a brilliantly written portrait of modern relationships and the lengths some people will go to find that dream existence. Oh, and let's not forget all the child actors who are mesmerizing. Pay attention to the presence of Sophie Nyweide who will steal your hearts as the "American" child whose fondness for learning strikes a pretty eventful cord.

Trailer provided by Video Detective
Principal Actors: Gael García Bernal, Michelle Williams, Marife Necesito, Sophie Nyweide, Run Srinikornchot
Running Time: 125 minutes
Reviewed By: Robert Waldman  (Vancouver)


Puring - Angie Ferro Kadyo - Pen Medina Raynaldo - Elryan De Vera Gilda - Marife Necisito Fernando - Ronnie Lazarol Mayor - Joel Torre Huling - Banaue Miclat Rebel Leader - Rey Venturas Marya - Lui Manansala Ana - Sigrid Bernardo Martina - Bolay Dakila - Dido Dela Paz

Running for almost eleven hours and twelve years in the making,Evolution of a Filipino Family(2004), which many consider to be Lav Diaz’s greatest work, is kamikaze filmmaking of the highest order. Mixing film and digital formats (which might be an economic decision), splicing the real with the surreal and weaving together documentary and fiction, Diaz concocts a glorious and flamboyantly self-reflexive film that slips seamlessly from one mode of discourse into another. The film’s central character is Ray (Elryan De Vera), a child found on the street by the mentally ill Hilda (Marife Necisito) and who goes on to live with another family of gold diggers. One could argue that Ray is the stand in for a whole generation of Filipinos abandoned by their “parents” and left stranded (Diaz himself calls Ray as the Filipino soul). Also central to the film is Hilda’s brother Kadyo (Pen Medina), who helps the resistance fighters by stealing ammunition from dead soldiers of the military. Interspersed among the sequences that drive this fiction are newsreels depicting rallies and riots against the then-existing Ferdinand Marcos regime, interviews of the legendary filmmaker Lino Brocka explaining political film movement during the Marcos rule and footage of artists reciting sappy, exaggerated and hilarious radio serials that everyone in the fictional world seems to be hooked to. Evolution of a Filipino Family is, as the title hints, a document – one that studies and critiques a whole era and suggests what’s to be done.

Diaz shoots almost exclusively in medium shots (to avoid any sort of manipulation, he says) and some of his compositions carry the air of evocatively rendered still life paintings. His soundtrack is even more remarkable and he edits it in such a manner that fiction regularly overflows into reality. Diaz throws in everything he’s got into this film. Examining a number of topics including commercialism versus art, the class struggle, art versus reality and the inseparability of past and present, Diaz creates a dense and incisive film that seems to announce once and for all what Diaz’s cinema is all about. At heart, Evolution of a Filipino Family is a film about resistance – political and cinematic. While Kadyo and the farmer army he works for exhibit their resistance by taking up arms against the military, Lino Brocka and his cohorts manifest theirs in cinematic terms. The link is very important, as Diaz himself has pointed out, since it is through the machinery of cinematic propaganda that the Marcos regime (as any totalitarian regime would) had reinforced its position among the Filipinos. If Hesus the Revolutionary set a fantastical revolutionary movement in the near future, this film uses the one that took place for real in the past. Diaz’s intention is not just to capture the spirit of the age, but, as in the previous film, to use this piece of history to study the present and understand the state of affairs.


Directed by Netherland's Jacco Groen, it is a character driven story about a maladjusted Filipino-American street-girl, who becomes Manila’s most famous child prostitute. International social worker Gloria desperately tries to safe Lilet from the sex industry but she fails again and again.



The ancient Greeks invented and defined the term apropos of our everyday fate. Agony. Ours is one born out of a myriad of cataclysms – both natural and auto-inflicted. Lav Diaz’s Agonistes, an admitted work-in-progress but already fully formed, meditates on the Filipino’s most pressing worldly struggle, his struggle to break out of material poverty and the non-material consequences of poverty. Hints, however, point to a more eschatological theme – the centrality or the simultaneity of the spiritual struggle.

Directing from his own script, Diaz transposes the ancient term agonistes to latter-day Philippines. He singles out the classic strugglers of contemporary times, the working-class men and the peasants, to shoulder grinding poverty. In truth, it can be said that the agonist has been a favorite fixture of Diaz’s other films: Heremias is both agonized and anguished, so is Hamin in Death in the Land of Encantos, tortured and demented at once. Epic but individual in scope, mythological and biblical in character, Diaz’s stories are veritable stories of struggles, sagas of agony.


On the day of the new President’s inauguration, the film threads the roundelay tales of people dealing with daily lives: their relationships, desires and their means of survival. Each one sets a goal to get through their harsh realities while their fate awaits them to cross its path in the callous streets of Manila. The dramatic core revolves around a taxi driver whose sanity crosses its border when his day’s journey is derailed by his own sexual frustrations.

Written and directed by Archie DelMundo.

Produced by: Astral Production.

Thursday, July 14, 2011