After the string of tremendously successful movies she directed from 2004, most of them romantic comedies filled with feel-good messages, audiences know Cathy Garcia-Molina as the director who make us laugh, cry, and gush over her wonderfully-crafted stories.
She is always approachable and smile-ready. Straightforward without being offensive, ebullient without getting over the edge, this is how she is most of the time away from work.
But once she sits behind the cameras, Director Cathy becomes bent on bringing the movie’s screenplay to real life on screen. “I will make sure even the smallest details dapat tama, mula sa hitsura ng character hanggang sa pagtawid sa next scenes. Because when I see even a small awkward thing, I know it will distract.”
When she wants her actor or actress to show an emotion that is prolonged from one scene to another, the director even spearheads scenarios on the set like forbidding them to communicate even with the crew or speak with an outside person on the phone. “Talagang may mga ipagbabawal ako. Kase I need my actors to embody a pain, a serious or a deep emotion I require. A lost, a heartbreak, gusto ko maramdamn nila ang pakiramdam nung character. Otherwise wala silang paghuhugutan eh.”
No wonder we all felt the pain of Popoy when Basha initially left him, and she realizes she wants him back in One More Chance. Or how Laida Magtalas felt how displaced she was in A Very Special Love to You Changed My Life before finally solidifying her resolve in It Takes A Man and A Woman. Or how real it felt with female siblings spewed tirades against each other in Four Sisters and a Wedding.
For her latest film Hello Love, Goodbye, Kapuso heartthrob Alden Richards and award-winning Kapamilya actress Kathryn Bernardo are paired up for the first time. Most of the movie was shot in Hong Kong, a country where tens of thousands of Filipinos have gone, lived, and worked.
Revealing her initial excitement at the inception of the project, Garcia-Molina becomes giddy when she narrates. “Ay initially, originally it was Roxy (Liquigan) and Inang (Star Cinema head Olivia Lamasan) who thought about this, they suggested it. Biglang natuwa ako! Kase hindi ko alam at gusto ko makita, malaman kung ano ang ibibigay ng tandem nila. Kase kita niyo bagong pairing ito tapos pelikula pa! Iyun na lang mismo nakaka-excite na! Kase isipin na lang natin di ba with Alden, yung tinatawag na ‘tawid-bakod’ (Kapuso talents working in Kapamilya and vice versa), aba puwede pala.”
Then she added how the title was born. “On the title naman ang dami kong naging choices more than a hundred yata pinagdaanan ko. The iyung title na Hello Love, Goodbye really caught me. Pinalagyan ko na lang ng comma after Hello kase every word stands for something, there is pause, bawat salita sa title may sinasabi eh.”
But even if she embraced Hello, Love, Goodbye’s more serious dramatic side, it does not mean she will forego doing romantic comedies. “Ay no no hindi po. Hindi ko aayawan ang genre na naglagay sakin sa kung ano man ang kinatatayuan ko ngayon sa work.
“I just think Kathryn does not need another rom-com muna especially after the great success of The Hows of Us, parang kailangan sundan ng, I will say daring, mas matapang na role, mas matapang na kuwento that is just right for her already.”
Alden narrated that in March, right after the story conference inside Star Creatives Office, direk Cathy was already moulding him into Ethan. “We did several look tests, (at the Studio Central Offices) then during the test shots Direct Cathy told me, ‘Alden halika tingnan mo o ang taba mo.’” This drove the actor to hit the gym and lose weight. A conscious effort that paid off with him shedding more than 25 pounds.
During one shooting day in Hong Kong, she required Kathryn to run repeatedly, driving the actress to become weary and angry. “Ay talagang napagod siya, labas dila, hilahod. Then I asked her, ‘Nagagalit ka na ba sa ‘kin, anak?’ When she said, ‘Opo’ I knew I am getting the emotion I wanted.” She then said,“Anak puwede kang magalit sa ‘kin, murahin mo ko, magdabog ka, except walk out.” Then during a short break, she caught a staff member handing the lead actress a cellphone. “Sumigaw talaga ako. Ay ang bunganga ko di ba? So I spoke with my staff no cellphones for Kath ha. Naawa na daw kase sila.” She retorted, “Hindi kayo puwedeng maawa. Mas maawa kayo kung hindi maganda ang ibibigay nung bata (on cam).
“Every character has a different personality. I think it is an effective process I do for my actors to know who their characters are, dahil kung hindi nila makikilala, hindi alam, hindi ramdam, saan galing, saan pupunta ang characters nila, I will ask them ‘so anong gagawin mo anak, aartehan mo lang ako sa camera?’ That is not enough.”
Direct Cathy will always prefer what happens in real life. “When your actors dala-dala nila ang role ng buong-buo, you will succeed in telling the story to viewers while you are behind the cameras. That means the movie has real people. Na-portray nila tunay na mga tao, tunay na mga buhay. It means tayong mga totoong tao ang nasa storya,” she said.