New indie feature Maestra inspires teachers, filmmakers

Lemuel Lorca's 7th film, Maestra, will pay tribute to educators whose life-long struggle is highlighted by their unwavering commitment to their profession. Primarily based on a viral post on Facebook about Iah Seraspi - a fisherman's daughter from Romblon who topped the board exams for teachers, the film will also feature inspiring real-life stories of Gennie Panguelo, an Aeta-Ilocana who had taught in a school situated on top of Pinatubo Valley for more than 25 years before finally passing the board after more than 20 retakes; and Espie Bautista, a former high school principal, a college dean, and an inspirational speaker who is now more than 80 years old and even past beyond her years, still refuses to retire from teaching. Lorca said this is his most important film to date. Lorca has independent features (Ned's Project, Intoy Syokoy, Water Lemon, Echorsis, Mauban: Ang Resiko) exhibited locally and internationally.

Gawad Urian Best Actress awardee Angeli Bayani portrays the role of Panguelo by religiously learning the Mag-Anchi Ayta Language. Seraspi, who is now working as a Board Reviewer herself, was present the entire time while Cinema One Originals Best Supporting Actress Anna Luna portrayed her character. Veteran actress and Queen of Visayan Movies Gloria Sevilla essays her real-life counterpart, Mam Espie, as a tireless teacher cum impromptu poetess. Bautista can marvelously compose and deliver poems on the spot as part of her inspirational talks.

Maestra is produced by Dr. Carl Balita of Carl Balita Review Center, who also moonlights as a radio host and entrepreneur. Adolf Alix's Nars is his first film production.

The film also includes a stalwart of acting luminaries such as Lou Veloso, Cinema One Best Actor Awardee Bong Cabrera, Lui Manansala, William Martinez, Yayo Aguila, Star Orjaliza, and Karl Medina. Former child star Paul Salas will play Anna Luna's love interest.

DLIST.PH's Archie Del Mundo wrote the screenplay, and as with Lorca's, this is the film he is most proud of. Del Mundo used to be a teacher; while Lorca's mother is a retired school district superintendent to whom he dedicates his latest film.

Maestra will have a special one-time screening on March 18 dedicated to teachers and reviewees. It will have its world premiere and commercial exhibitions sometime in June or July this year. Rated GP by the MTRCB, board member and actress Tessie Villarama says the film is a must-watch.

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