With the release of the first batch of teaser trailers for the 2019 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, Theodore Boborol’s ISKA is quickly emerging as one the most-anticipated indie films of the season.
Led by award-winning actress Ruby Ruiz on her first starring role, ISKA tells the story of a loving but impoverished grandmother of the same name, who works as a photocopy machine lady at the University of the Philippines Diliman. The term Iska also refers to a female “Iskolar ng Bayan” or a national scholar from the University of the Philippines (UP).
The ISKA star has received acclaim for her major roles on Chito Rono’s Signal Rock and the Vilma Santos starrer Ekstra, for which she won a Best Supporting Actress trophy. Ruiz has also walked the prestigious Cannes Film Festival red carpet for Brillante Mendoza’sMa’ Rosa, and has a role in the Hollywood film The Bourne Legacy.
Boborol, a graduate of the Broadcast Communication program in UP Diliman, says that ISKA resonates closely with him, being filmed at his alma mater. The screenplay is also loosely based on the compelling story of his house cleaner.
ISKA is Boborol’s first independent outing after the box-office success of Just The Way You Are (Liza Soberano, Enrique Gil), Vince & Kath & James (Julia Barretto, Joshua Garcia, Ronnie Alonte), and Finally Found Someone (Sarah Geronimo, John Lloyd Cruz).
Boborol was also the man behind the lens of some of ABS-CBN’s top shows, namely: Forevermore, Be My Lady, Annaliza (Catholic Mass Media Awards Best Drama series, 2016), Angelito: Batang Ama and its sequel Angelito: Ang Bagong Yugto; and the recent primetime hit Araw Gabi, for which he won Best Direction at the first Asian Academy Creative Awards.
The teaser trailer launched last March 1 quickly garnered huge viewership on Twitter after celebrities shared their badge of support.
Boborol’s former stars Julia Barretto, JM de Guzman, Barbie Imperial, Marco Gumabao, Martin del Rosario, Sue Ramirez, Daniel Matsunaga, and Heneral Luna star John Arcilla vocalized their praise and support to their director.
You just keep making us proud! Hoping everyone can support this film 📽 https://t.co/pMOeEvM1Sb
— JULIA (@BarrettoJulia) March 1, 2019
Kaabang abang… 😉🙏🏻✨❤️ https://t.co/iqj2COGV7n
— Barbie Imperial (@barbieeimperial) March 1, 2019
— Sue Dodd (@sueanna_dodd) March 5, 2019
— Marco Gumabao (@marcogumabao) March 2, 2019
Hintayin nati si ISKA para sa Cinemalaya ngayong Agosto! Pelikula ni Theodore Boborol! https://t.co/KaxK4ucoiU
— John Arcilla (@JohnArcilla) March 4, 2019
His other erstwhile stars also sent in their congratulations including PBB idols Joj and Jai Agpangan and Devon Seron; Valenzuela city councilor Charee Pineda; MYX VJ Alez Diaz; comedians Milo Elmido Jr. and Eric Nicolas; GirlTrends member Sammie Rimando; and seasoned actress Rita Avila.
Hashtag members Ryle Santiago and Luke Conde, TV director Don Cuaresma, and MYX VJ Ai dela Cruz posted their congratulatory tweets, as well.
— Ai dela Cruz (@aidelacruz) March 1, 2019
Boborol’s friend and fellow UP graduate Antoinette Jadaone, who directed the UP-set box-office hit Alone/Together, also expressed her excitement.
Direk Ted!!! https://t.co/13tC0vKK0L
— Tonette, Tonette (@tonetjadaone) March 1, 2019
ISKA is making waves in the UP community after university personalities tweeted their support to the Cinemalaya entry. Among them were former UAAP courtside reporter and news anchor Trish Roque; Twitter personality Tita Maroon, and UP Men’s Basketball Team (MBT) players Pio Longa and Jaydee Tungcab.
Last February, ISKA initiated a Valentine’s Day activity encouraging digital natives to write short love letters to any “ISKA” or UP student in their life.
The hashtag quickly gained traction among students and graduates of the university. Celebrity alumni jumped in on the hashtag, sharing their own tweets of love: Kaladkaren Davila, Richard Juan, VJ Sunny Kim, Trish Roque, Joj and Jai Agpangan, Milo Elmido Jr., and ISKA director Theodore Boborol.
#DearIska, this Valentine’s Day, I hope you are happy at wherever you are now, and finally doing what you love 😇🌹
— Richard Juan (@richardjuan) February 14, 2019
— KaladKaren (@jervijervi) February 14, 2019
#DearIska if you never try you’ll never no. Dali, punta ka na sa CHK, it all starts with a single hello! 😜🤣
— Sunny Kim (@sunshine_kim) February 14, 2019
The hashtag also reached The Voice of the Philippines’ Jason Dy and Star Music’s RJ Agustin, despite not being graduates of the university.
#DearIska, sana kasing saya ng puso ko and puso mo this balentaymz ❣️
— Jason Dy (@JasonJamesDy) February 14, 2019
MBT players likewise joined in on the fanfare including UAAP MVP Bright Akhuetie, Jerson Prado, Jaydee Tungcab, and Pio Longa.
You will never forget a person who came to you with a torch in the dark!! Happy Valentine's Day y'all.. #DearISKA
— Bright Osagie Akhuetie (@bright_bigtinzz) February 14, 2019
ISKA is a co-production of Cinemalaya and Firestarters Films, the studio behind the internationally-acclaimed independent film 1st Ko Si Third (featuring Nova Villa and Freddie Webb), and the Metro Manila Film Festival entry Kabisera (starring Nora Aunor).
Catch ISKA from August 2 to 11 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and in select cinemas nationwide.