In a nation that centers its social foundation on family, it is not surprising to see numerous films centered on family stories. Whether it is about complicated familial situations, the sacrifices that parents make for their children, and heart-warming moments among siblings, among others, one can find Filipino films that encapsulate shared social experiences and realities that enlighten, inspire, and transform generations of viewers.

One of the most iconic family-centered films in the Philippines is Anak, directed by Rory Quintos and written by National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts Ricky Lee.

Recently, the Cultural Center of the Philippines held a special screening of this classic cinematic gem at St. Paul University, Quezon City as part of its CCP Lakbay Sine, an outreach program of the Film, Broadcast, and New Media Division – Production and Exhibition Department (FBNMD- PED), that brings different film projects to different regions, partner communities, organizations, and campuses primarily to popularize the works of Filipino filmmakers and encourage film appreciation among the youth and the general public.

For this CCP Lakbay Sine iteration, the CCP presented the Cine Icons, a special film project that aims to promote the cinematic works and lives of the National Artists.

In cooperation with ABS-CBN Sagip Pelikula, the special screening of the digitally-restored 2000 film was attended by high school students from different St. Paul campuses who expressed their appreciation for the classic film, especially in its maintained relevance in today’s society, more than two decades after it first premiered.

Starring award-winning actresses Vilma Santos and Claudine Barretto, Anak is a moving story about a mother who became an overseas contract worker dreaming of a better life for her children. Upon her return to the Philippines after the death of her husband, she has to endure the resentment and hatred of her children for leaving them.

“We did a lot of interviews sa mga nanay at mga anak. We made sure, kami ng co-writer ko and direk Rory, na wala kaming sisisihin – magulang man o sa anak. Hindi nila kasalanan na nasa lipunan sila kung saan kailangan nilang maghiwalay para mabuhay. We made sure na magiging totoo kami sa boses ng ina at sa anak. At wala kaming kakampihan.,” said the National Artist on their portrayal of the characters Josie and Carla.

When asked about the process behind shooting the emotional scenes during the talkback session, actress Santos-Recto shared: “When we do a scene, hindi namin sinasadya na magpaiyak. Palagay ko it is the story itself. As much as possible, gagawin namin na coming from the heart, hindi lang basta acting.”

The Star for All Seasons, who has initiated several programs in Batangas to help families of OFWs, also shared how being close to her family in real life helped her get into Josie’s character better. In her infamous confrontation scene with her co-star Claudine, which was shot in one take, her dialogue also reflected her struggles as a mother.

“Kapag nagsusulat kami, we try to be true to the characters, to the material. Nakikita ko na kapag na-imbibe ng actors ‘yung characters, yun na ‘yung character. And I think that’s because of the truthfulness of the character – hindi siya inaarte,” shared Lee.

As a screenwriter, Lee considers characters as the most important elements to consider when starting new projects. For him, characters are real people – the same people who watch his films and read his stories. “Kaya natin naa-appreciate ‘yung mga pelikula kasi nakikita natin na kapwa tao natin ‘yung nasa screen.”

With hundreds of budding artists watching, both Lee and Santos-Recto were more than happy to provide insights and encouragement to the young hopefuls who also dream of making it into the industry.

“Pursue your dreams. Try and try, lalo na if you have the passion. Love what you do and it will love you back,” enthused the veteran actress.

When asked for advice on how to deal with parents who discourage their children to pursue arts, the National Artist said: “Kailangang mag-persist ka. ‘Wag kang bibitaw, hawakan mo ‘yung pangarap mo.”

For its next screening, CCP Cine Icons premiered Joel Lamangan’s The Flor Contemplacion Story, written by Ricky Lee and starring National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts Nora Aunor, on March 15.

To get the latest updates on CCP Lakbay Sine, follow the official CCP and CCP Film, Broadcast, and New Media Division social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.