ARA MINA: NOTORIOUSLY NAKED
Manila, August 2, 1998 - Remember Ara Mina?
She was the sweet little princess biding her time doing small roles within the enchanted gates of Regal's film factory. Whether playing the big sister, teenage playmate or barrio lass in such films as SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROLL VI, or doing the same in TV dramas, Ara impressed everyone as just one of those sugary lasses content to sit it out until stardom chanced upon her.
Not anymore. Ara, the sweet little girl who once dreamed of reigning as queen of the silver screen bedecked in regal gowns, took another turn on her way to The Big Time. Her fairy tale led her to a fleshly parade which has no place for saccharine wholesomeness.
Whether out of desperation or from a genuine motive to expand her horizons as a performer, Ara shed her pristine innocence. She took on the role of a bedeviling seductress in such films as MALDITA, a quickie sex exploitation flick that was long on publicity but rather short on substance. The titillating movie filled Manila's tabloids with all the attendant scandal of a virtuous virgin violated. She bared her pubescent charms wearing nothing more than a slinky smile as hungry lechers fantasized about spending moments with her in the dark caverns of cinemas.
Unlike the screen glamour queens of old who put on their finest regalia to go to the ball, Ara was like a wet chick --all naked and nowhere to go -- when MALDITA came and went. Its box office performance was nothing to crow about. Its producer, Jowell Films didn't make the expected fortune at the box office. The publicity machine ground to a halt for the time being, but not for long.
Having exposed her charms, and a lot of skin, to more mature audiences, it wasn't long before Ara took on parts in Carlos Siguion Reyna's TATLO MAGKASALO and Chito Rono's CURACHA. The first tackled the controversial theme of lesbianism, while the latter focused on ladies of the night during an anti-Cory coup that rocked Manila a decade ago. Both movies are Philippine entries to the Toronto Film Festival which will be held later this year.
In the meantime, Ara played a wholesome fairy princess in Regal Films' BUHAWI JACK opposite a stocky, jolly Nino Muhlach. The movie, a crudely produced action-fantasy flick that headlined Monsour del Rosario and Carmina Villaroel played to empty theaters and made audiences wonder why Ara was doing second lead, goody-goody roles when she was supposed to be the newest nymphet on the scene.
The conflicting images took their toll on Ara. For a while, she was in limbo, despite Chito Rono's CURACHA, which focused on Rosanna Roces' frontal nudity scenes.
So far, her change of image continues to jar her family. "My family never really approved of my entry into bold and daring roles. My grandma cursed me in anger. My Dad slapped me because what I did infuriated him," revealed Ara.
"My dad told me that there was no reason for me to disrobe. After all, we weren't in dire financial straits," Ara continued. "However, that wasn't the point for me. It wasn't money that I was after, but fame."
What fame could Ara be referring to? What this former student from Mountain Dew Montessori did get is a lot of notoriety. Sure, she would still continue her college education if she has the chance. But Ara has gone irrevocably on the path of bold movies.
Her career direction has deeply grieved master showman German Moreno, her mentor during her days in THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT. "I know he feels terrible about this. But what can I do? What I have done is no different from what other members of THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT have done. He's no longer involved in the decisions we make because we are now responsible for our individual careers. I think it's unfair to even include him in this issue," Ara explained.
The see-saw career of Ara Mina is on an upswing again these days; the publicity mill is preparing for the exhibition of her TATLO MAGKASALO, where she co-stars with Rita Avila under the direction of Carlos Siguion Reyna.
An exhibit of nude paintings with Ara as the common subject was mounted at Gallery 139 on the fourth level of SM Megamall Building A in Mandaluyong City. Paintings by artists prestigious artists Greg Bolanos, Angel Cacnio, Cee Cadid, Agustin Goy, Nemiranda, Al Perez, Gig de Pio, Loreto Racuya and Solomo Saprici are among those on display.
The move reprises the big publicity bash that attended Rosanna Roces' Reyna Films début in early 1997's LIGAYA ANG ITAWAG MO SA AKIN. Notwithstanding the theme of the paintings, the few curious people who visited the exhibit thought it reminded them of Reyna Films' previous gimmick. Unlike the first time, when all painting of Roces were sold out soon as the exhibit opened, there were no buyers yet for Ara's at the time of our visit. Manila's racy tabloids have featured them and even listed pricing and contact information but very few tabloid readers would have the resources to purchase the paintings.
TATLO MAGKASALO should still be an ace for Ara.
Director Carlos Siguion Reyna always brings the strengths of his performers to fore, and Ara's major role in his latest opus not only guarantees notice from the critics and good business at the box office, there is also potential international exposure when TATLO MAGKASALO plays in Toronto in September.
In the end, it still all depends on Ara. No longer can she pose as the naïve nymphet who just wanted her share of fame, for only merit and substance can transcend the inevitable roller coaster of the showbiz carnival.
TALENT -- Ara needs to show it now if she is to survive.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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