(STAR) By Pablo A. Tariman - (Photo - Rosanna Roces as a scheming politician’s wife delivers one hell of a performance matching everyone’s dramatic intensity.)

Rosanna Roces is back and she is sharing a stellar role with no less than Nora Aunor and Christopher de Leon in a new TV5 teleserye titled Sa Ngalan ng Ina which airs Oct. 3.

In the red carpet premiere of the teleserye last Sept. 22, she remains the epitome of the Goddess of Love with that landmark bosom, the inviting pout and a coquet smile that all but says, “Come and get me.”

But as Lucia Ilustre in Sa Ngalan ng Ina, she is a politician’s wife, a scheming one, and a two-timing one to husband Pepe Ilustre played with powerful dramatic undertones by Christopher.

There is no doubt that Nora is the stand-out of this teleserye but the supporting players led by Eugene Domingo as Pacita Toribio and Alwyn Uytingco as Alfonso Deogracias were just as good.

The teleserye directed by Mario O’Hara and Jon Red didn’t have the usual look of a teleserye; it has the looks of a film masterpiece compressed for television.

Rosanna, for one, delivers one hell of a performance (at least in this one preview episode) matching everyone’s dramatic intensity. After her funeral parlor scene where she confronts the victims of her own political cunning, she is shown in bed wrapped only in white sheets with her legs partly revealed and saying she should have lobbed that fatal grenade herself in that political rally reminiscent of the Plaza Miranda carnage. But in the background, there is a silhouette of her mysterious lover preparing to leave their love nest.

In another scene, her handicapped husband (De Leon) pours his pent-up emotion making sketches. He is muttering something about two lovers meeting by the roadside but the house caretaker says he can’t see the two lovers in that sketch.

Like it or not, Rosanna is bound to make a big impression in this teleserye and I can’t help recalling the first time I met her 13 years ago.

I remember her in one hot sweltering afternoon many years back with. She was in a revealing summer get-up, svelte and willowy like a modern-day Queen Guenevere emerging from the woods of Camelot after rendering the song, The Lusty Month of May.

To be sure, her life has had several highs and lows.

There was early motherhood and a short-lived marriage. Her daughter Grace is now a mother, too.

But seeing her act a post-love scene partially naked in Sa Ngalan Ng Ina, she could be the sexiest grandmother in Philippine cinema today.

One thing that struck me about her in that meeting many years ago was her attitude towards money

Growing up with a father she called her own, she knew how to distinguish actual need for money and the occasional obsession that went with it. Her father used money only for pressing needs and that’s how she is now. Even if she can afford it, shopping is not a must in her weekend itinerary. All her earnings went to family priorities — a house and savings for children. “All the while I was working my ass off to earn, hindi ako natutong magwaldas,” she related then. “But I didn’t overlook the fact that money is just a means to an end, not something to be desired for what it is.”

In her book, money isn’t everything. There was a time in her life when she valued relationship more than money. She needed to pay her bills and she needed it to give her children a better future but in her own words, “Hindi ako nagsasamba sa pera.”

But in one of her landmark films Curacha: Ang Babaeng Walang Pahinga directed by Chito Roño, she came to terms with people who’d do anything and everything to earn money. In this movie, she had to do a live sex act for a living. As though this were not enough, she used her body to help a friend in distress (played by Jaclyn Jose who needed a bed in a crowded inter-island vessel) and used it some more to service flesh-hungry soldiers and restless generals.

There was a curious scene in this movie where she aroused the limp member of a coup ‘d etat-bound general (played by Lito Legaspi) by simply muttering the world “coup.” She also made out with a young soldier manning a restricted zone and the unconsummated act leaves the young man yearning for more. After their preliminary acrobat, Rosanna fled with the countenance of warped ennui. In that scene, she had gotten tired of using her body and was aching for redemption.

(Charlene Gonzales, sister of Richard Bonnin, would later tell Rosanna that her poor brother couldn’t recover after shooting that sex acrobat scene with La Roces).

But it was inevitable that she had to portray what that sex worker’s life was all about. The sex act in Curacha — for one — is done in full view of paying customers and portraying that life on film was a virtual journey to Lower Depth.

No, she couldn’t imagine herself leading a torera’s (a live sex worker’s) life.

“I’d prefer to strip rather than be subjected to that task of doing regular sex act in full view of lusty audiences,” she chuckled then. “But then even if I get desperate, I’d rather do laundry work rather than do that. Tutal hindi na mahirap maglaba ngayon dahil may washing machine na. Talagang nakakalungkot ang buhay nila dahil wala na silang mapuntahan. They have no choice because they have loved ones to feed. Like this gay father in Nick de Ocampo’s documentary film Oliver who had to do a live sex act to feed her baby.”

At some point, one was curious how Rosanna was able to pull off her nude scenes and still emerged a natural performer.

“Of course I just don’t strip naked mechanically,” she once pointed out. “I emote while I go nude because this is what is asked of me as an actress. There are those who strip easily but couldn’t act and there are those who could act and couldn’t go naked and there lies the difference.”

Out there on the set where her body is often exposed to camera and crew, she had a mindset that told her being naked was not obscene per se.

(Talk of obscenity being in the eye of the beholder)

“The first time I stripped naked before a camera,” she recalled, “I didn’t feel any tinge of shame. On the other hand, I was rather proud of my body.”

In her mind, the female breast is just as normal sight as a male breast.

On the set, she did what an actress was supposed to do.

After going through her lines, she immerses herself on her character and proceeds to psyche herself and the people around her. “I already go topless for a nude scene so that my co-actors and the crew will get used to the sight. ‘Yong paghubad ko ng pang-itaas, parang lalaki. I am not conscious at all. So that during the actual take, I don’t want people acting like Peeping Toms. Naghuhubad na ako sa rehearsal to admonish people, ‘Huwag na kayong manilip, nakita na ninyo kanina pa.’ What I am wary of is when we are shooting love scenes outdoor where you cannot prevent children from watching.”

Of late, she is not that body-conscious. She has gotten wary of living up to the image of a sexy star that for now she has decided she is not going to be a slave of that public obsession.

For one, eating what she wants has become irresistible.

“It’s hot all the time at ang consuelo ko na lang ‘yong pagkain tapos ipagbabawal pa. Talagang mahirap magpigil. Now it’s me dictating over my body and not the other way around. I love to cook and I love to eat and that’s the way it’s going to be.”

Now in her early 40s, Rosanna knew what she wanted out of life and how to better cope with it.

There was nothing in her past that she had not confronted. Life must go on. “I don’t want to forget my past but I don’t want to dwell on it even for a minute. Sometimes you meet people from the past and try to pressure you to re-live it. I want them blurred in my memory on the year we met. The past taught me something but living them again is not within me to even attempt.”

Seeing Rosanna in her new role in Sa Ngalan Ng Ina, it is obvious she is starting a new chapter in her acting life.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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