Naka-polo barong at minus his trademark baseball cap si Direk Paul Soriano nang humarap sa entertainment media nitong Lunes ng tanghali, December 5, sa Winford Manila Hotel and Casino para sa press conference ng idinirek niyang MMFF 2022 (Metro Manila Film Festival) entry na My Teacher na pinagbibidahan naman ng kanyang asawang si Toni Gonzaga along with iconic comedian Joey de Leon.
Marahil ay ganito na muna ang staple look ni Direk Paul matapos s'yang hirangin bilang Presidential Adviser on Creative Communications ng kanilang ninong sa kasal ni Toni Gonzaga na si Pangulong Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. noong Oktubre 17, 2021.
Ang The Teacher ay bale reunion project nina Direk Paul at Toni as director and actor. Unang nai-direk ni Secretary/Direk Paul si Toni noong hindi pa sila mag-asawa. ito ay para sa A Journey Home noong 2009.
In the said mediacon, isa sa naitanong kay Direk Paul ang tungkol sa bagong titulo ng kanyang asawa bilang the "Unbothered Queen" dahil sa deadma nitong reaction sa kaliwa’t kanang bashing sa kanya simula pa noong nag-host siya sa proclamation rally ng BBM-Sara tandem na ginanap sa Philippine Arena noong Pebrero 2022.
“You know, honestly, outside looking in, if I can step back and just, you know, [look] from a perspective of not being her husband, or her producer or her director, and [me] just outside looking in, I really believe Toni is probably the most powerful celebrity today," proud na lahad n'ya tungkol sa kanyang asawa.
Agad n'ya tong sinundan nang mahabang paliwanag for context.
“Only because the criticisms and the hate that she’s getting are from equally powerful people, too. You don’t rattle relevant people if you’re not doing something better than them, di ba?
“And you know, of course, you know, I’m her husband, and I’m very extremely proud of her. She’s also one of the strongest people I know, right?
“And I’ve seen her in her darkest moments. I’ve seen her being very vulnerable. But she chooses to get up every day and face that camera.
“She could have easily just moved out, taken all the criticisms and just, you know, go somewhere else.
“But what did she choose? She chose to create her own show. She chose to make a concert. She chose to make a film. She’s facing it head on.
“If that’s not powerful, I don’t know what is. Right? I always tell her, ‘You are at the right place at this right time.’
“Because if you also study the path of her career, she’s also been one of the most heavily criticized. If you go back to her transfer, her network transfer and all that stuff...she’s been on very high-profile shows.
“So, I really believe she’s one of the strongest and most powerful women in the Philippines today. And she’s not stopping. So that’s quite remarkable."
“Whether you love her or hate her, you have to give credit where credit is due," dagdag pa niya. "For me. You don’t agree with her politics, you don’t agree with what she’s doing, but you have to give credit where credit is due.”
Siya na nga raw ang humihikayat sa asawa na mag-slow down pero nasa kabaligtaran daw ang mindset nito.
“She’s not stopping and I don’t think she ever will. Even if I try to tell her to slow down, wala. Diretso-diretso. She has her mind on the prize and she’ll claim it.
“So, if she’s all praises for me, I’m extremely proud of her and I, you know, learned so much from her and you know, [I'm] just being happy being her husband. I’m proud to be her husband as well. Parang I feel so blessed.”
Sa kabilang banda, umaasa naman si Direk Paul na maging maganda ang outcome ng MMFF this year.
“Hopefully, this will also start and signify the comeback of cinemas and of course the industry that we all love so much, the film industry.
“So, hopefully you all can support My Teacher and, of course, the other seven entries also. And may this be the beginning of a merry Christmas and hopefully the rollback to all of us going back to the cinemas. I know we all miss it so much.
“So, parang ano, revenge cinema, di ba? May mga revenge travel, revenge shopping, so let’s promote revenge cinema where this Christmas we can see long lines, happy families, everyone coming together as we celebrate the industry that we love so much, ang pelikulang Pilipino,” panghihikayat pa niya.
Samantala, kay Toni pala galing ang konsepto na sa mga teachers iikot ang istorya ng The Teacher, na by the way ay co-produced nilang mag-asawa though his Ten17 Productions at TinCan Productions naman ni Toni.
"The teachers are very underrated. Sila talaga ang, you know, one of our heroes growing up. They’re the ones who give us our education. They’re the ones who sacrifice so much to teach us," panimulang paliwanag niya about their film.
“So, she [Toni] said, ‘Maybe we can shed some light and write a story about the teachers.’ And she wanted to play a teacher. I know, some of her inspirations were 'yung the movie na The Intern, Blind Side, yan ang mga parang pegs niya dito.
“So, we talked about it and I told her, ‘Look, Tin, if you want and you feel passionate about this idea, why don’t you start writing it?’
“Actually, siya ang nagbuo ng concept, e. Siya ang nagsulat ng story. As you all know, Toni loves to write. So, she wrote this and then, yeah, eventually we got a team and we started writing the script.”
Ang singer-actress din ang kumausap kay Joey de Leon at kaagad naman daw itong sumagot ng: "Anything for you Toni, Lakas mo sa akin, e."
Speaking of Joey de Leon, may napulot ba silang insights sa entertainment veteran?
“Tito Joey taught us three things: live, love, and laugh. Speak about Joey de Leon...again, for a 70- plus years old and for him to say yes to young filmmakers like me and Toni during the pandemic... to go out to his comfort zone, spent almost a month of shooting with us... he’s actually there about 7AM around 6AM in his car..." masayang lahad ni Direk Paul.
Ayon pa kay Direk Paul, makuwento raw sa set si Joey at wala daw silang naging problema dito at all.
“That’s why he’s an icon," papuri n'ya. "That’s why he’s the living legend. I'm so humbled and grateful that he said yes to Toni to do this film. He doesn’t have to do this film, let’s be honest, but he wanted to do it."
Bilang ganti, pinangako naman daw nila sa pamilya ni Joey na aalagaan nila nang husto ang comedy gem sa set.
"We promised the de Leon family that we would take good care of Tito Joey. And yan blessing talaga, we finished everything...parang ang smooth lahat.”
Dumalo rin sa solo mediacon na ito ni Direk Paul si Joed Serrano ng The Godfather Productions, ang co-producer ng I Am Toni, 20th Anniversary Concert ng asawa niya na magaganap on January 20, 2023 sa Smart Araneta Coliseum.
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