Gulf Today

Movie ‘Love in Disguise’ made in UAE by Filipinos premiered

‘Love in Disguise’ will blaze the trail and unleash the full potential of Filipinos in the creative industries

- Mariecar Jara-puyod,

With family pressure on singletons, this is “Love in Disguise,” that bespeaks of guts, talent, and a community in the truest sense of the word.

The first-ever full-length - of, for and by Filipinos in the UAE — shown in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, was premiered at the Al Ghurair Centre, on Thursday.

It elicited laughter and the ooze of “kilig” — that thrill over romance.

The approximat­ely two-hour film, accomplish­ed with only one camera and within a week, has only one recognizab­le name, Daniel Matusanaga, 14 years in Philippine showbiz.

How the “romcom,” as the Brazilian-japanese actor who described himself as “Pusong Pinoy” (Filipino by heart) had described it, came about, executive producer Nino Sabio claimed, was a push from screenwrit­er-director Raymund Salas.

Sixteen years in the UAE, Sabio, a mechanical engineer and Quality manager when the Novel Coronaviru­s struck and eventually terminated, is the man behind Siklab Pinoy, creating short films since 2017. The re-invention continues in the areas of education, media, and travel & tourism.

Salas whose own personal story in the UAE began in 2005 as a programme manager of a Filipino radio station in Sharjah, recalled: “Last year, Sabio approached me saying ‘This is the budget.’ I keep stories and scripts. What I did was re-hash this, to fit in the budget.”

Salas is into movie production because of the late Lino Brocka (1939-1991) whose over 60 films challenged the Philippine society’s close-andopen mindedness on life’s truth, best unspoken of.

He said: “Our stories are not about diving deep into complex themes. No; they are about keeping it real and bringing a smile to the faces of our fellow kababayans (countrymen) abroad. Our goal is simple: to offer a brief escape from the daily grind of being an overseas Filipino worker (OFW), even if just for a moment. We are all about those moments of pure joy, those infectious laughs that lit spirits and warm hearts. It is these simple pleasures that fuel our passion for filmmaking. So, while I may not be a bigshot philosophe­r, seeing the happiness on our audience’s faces is what makes it all worth it.”

Salas’ take was felt in Matsunaga’s strong chemistry with that of lead actress Gerryl Gaid, who, like the rest of the cast and crew have day jobs in the UAE.

Gaid, a senior financial analyst at one of the UAE’S premier banking institutio­n who also dabbles on modeling, said: “The realm of movie production and acting is new to me. I have a personal resonance with the character, Lilly, who embodies the essence of a driven corporate woman with ambitious aspiration­s, striving to grow personally while supporting her family.”

Matsunaga, impressed by the Filipinos’ drive in the UAE to get into filmmaking, as this provides opportunit­ies for all, said: “I really liked the story. So light. Very honoured to be part of it. I am Brazilian-japanese working in the Philippine­s, also an OFW.”

Ronald Awa, himself a filmmaker who establishe­d the decade-long Emirates Film Festival, the “short film corner of the Emirates Group Photograph­y Club,” defined the picture show “a success story” and an encouragem­ent “to create more relevant stories that our audience can understand and enjoy. It is low-budgeted but an atempt for Filipino filmmakers in the UAE to produce a movie that can be called ‘theirs.’ It is not easy.’”

From Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Alfonso Ferdinand Ver: “I congratula­te our very own Filipino expats in Dubai for the success of the movie, particular­ly the star, Miss Gerryl Gaid, who gave a very refreshing performanc­e, and writer-director Raymund Salas for his exemplary work. I am certain this will blaze the trail and unleash the full potential of our kababayans in the creative industries.”

Consul General Designate in Dubai and the Northern Emirates Marford Angeles said: “What is truly remarkable is that the movie is a labour of love for those who made it possible, fosters internatio­nal co-production­s and collaborat­ions among Filipino creatives in the UAE who put their minds and resources together to bring to the big screen a hearfelt story. Let us promote the works of Filipino artists to preserve and enrich our culture and to strengthen our national identity in the UAE.”

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The cast and crew with Alfonso Ferdinand Ver (second from right) and Marford Angeles (extreme right) at the premiere night on Thursday in Dubai.
↑ The cast and crew with Alfonso Ferdinand Ver (second from right) and Marford Angeles (extreme right) at the premiere night on Thursday in Dubai.

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