MANILA, October 29, 2003  (BULLETIN) Fresh from his international triumph in “Small Voices,” director Gil Portes is back with another cinematic gem, “Homecoming,” an entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival. Portes, the only truly Filipino independent filmmaker, gathers in “Homecoming” the finest actors, writers, artists, and technicians, coming up with a picture the Philippines can be proud of.

Leading the cast are award-winning actresses Elizabeth Oropesa and Alessandra de Rossi, playing mother and daughter caught in a heart-wrenching homecoming. De Rossi comes home after five years of hard work as a nurse in Canada, eager to be reunited with her family and sweetheart, who she intends to marry. Oropesa sees in her daughter the hope of a brighter and more prosperous tomorrow.

Even the entire town welcomes her with pomp and circumstance, as if she was a heroine.

But then, fate has other plans for her. She has contracted the SARS virus and unknowingly brought it home with her.

Co-starring with Oropesa and Alessandra in “Homecoming” are Bembol Roco as Elizabeth’s estranged husband; James Blanco as De Rossi’s sweetheart; Lester Llan-Doria as Blanco’s mother; Irma Adlawan as the town’s busybody; Richard Quan as the parish priest; Allan Paule as the dedicated doctor; Christopher Malonzo as Alessandra’s faithful suitor.

Oropesa is devastated upon learning that her only daughter, her hope for a better life, is afflicted with the infectious disease that has caused panic around the world.

The entire town comes to grips with the consequences of the tragic turn of events.

Such is the headline-grabbing and emotion-grasping scenario that provides the backdrop of this new breakthrough film from Gil Portes.

As the story unfolds, the universal themes of life and deaths, of trust and betrayal, and of loyalty to family and country are tackled to is core – subtly and steadily building up into the heart-wrenching final scene.

“Homecoming” is jointly produced by Teamwork Productions, Cinema Partners, and Kidlat Entertainment, with Portes and Ray Cuerdo as producers; Dobbin Tan, Carlo M. Fernandez, John Alonte, and Eric Manlunas as executive producers.

Mike Sandejas is line producer.

Story and screenplay by Senedy Que, Adolfo Alix Jr., and Portes, the same writing triumvirate behind “Small Voices,” which won awards here and abroad. “Small Voices” was the Philippine entry this year to the Oscar, best foreign-language picture category. De Rossi won the hearts of audiences all over the world as the idealistic teacher in “Small Voices.”

Oropesa is a grandslam best actress awardee for “Bulaklak ng Maynila” and has another best actress trophy for “Lumapit, Lumayo ang Umaga.” She has two best supporting actress awards, for “Milagros” and “Huling Birhen sa Lupa.”

Alessandra has two best supporting actress trophies, “Azucena” and “Hubog.”

Bembol Roco has two best actor awards, “Maynila: Sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag” and “Sugapa,” the last title directed by Gil Portes.

Lester Llansang and Bryan Homecillo are best child performer awardees for “Saranggola” and “Small Voices,” both films directed by Portes.

The staff of “Homecoming” includes:

Romulo Araojo (director of photograph), Yeye Calderon (production designer), George Jarlego (film editor), Noel Bruan (sound supervision), Ari Trofeo (field sound recordist), Arnel de Rosario and Nilo Alcala (musical scorers), Philip Cruz MD (medical consultant), Rolly Palmes (production manager).

Although identified with independent films, Portes has directed such big stars as Dolphy (“Markova”), Nora Aunor (“Merika, Andrea), Vilma Santos (“Miss X,” “Never Ever Say Goodbye).

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved