It was, after all, Tanging Ina that made Ai Ai de las Alas a household name, earned her a true friend in co-star Eugene Domingo, and gave her enough memories to try to assemble the original cast for this third and “final” movie.
De las Alas said it wasn’t easy bringing the cast back together as some the actors were already abroad, or working for GMA Network. “Pero talagang super effort ang Star Cinema na mabuo kami. Fortunately naman, thank you kay God, nabuo kami . . . Minus Heart [Evangelista] nga lang [But Star Cinema really made a huge effort to get everyone together, and thanks be to God, we completed the cast, except for Heart Evangelista].”
After presenting the movie trailer to the media at the Dolphy Theater at ABS-CBN, the Comedy Queen admitted that she felt a bit emo-tional about the movie.
“Masaya ako, pero parang nalungkot ako ng konti nang makita ko na, ‘Ay, parang last na ‘to.’ [I’m happy but I’m also sad that this will be the last installment of the movie].
“Kasi, di ba, ganoon naman talaga yun? Sa bawat yugto ng buhay natin, may tuldok [But that’s always how it is, things always come to an end]. So, pagkatapos ng tuldok, may comma ulit. So, may bago na namang mangyayari [But then again, after every period there’s a comma that follows so there should be a new beginning again].”
She also says they wanted to end the series while it was still hot. “Una po, talaga yung title is last na. Kasi sabi ko, kapag hindi ito last, mawawala ang kredibilidad natin. And saka, mas maganda ang grand exit ng isang bagay na nasa itaas siya kesa yung walang-wala nang nanonood sa atin. [This will really be the last installment of the movie, otherwise we would lose our credibility; it’s better to end something good while we’re still on top, rather than when no one’s there to watch us anymore].
While bringing together all her “children” proved to be a quite a challenge, they had no problems casting De las Alas’s BFF (Best Friend Forever) Eugene Domingo. Despite top-billing several blockbuster movies herself, Eugene had no problems playing a supporting role for her friend. In fact, Domingo says, she was even worried when she heard rumors that she was going to be replaced by Pokwang.
“Naririnig ko nga ‘yan [I heard about that], says Domingo. “Tina-nong ko agad si Direk Wen, ‘Direk, kasama pa po ba ako sa
Tanging Ina 3? Kasi, baka naman ako lang ang excited, hindi pala ako kasama. Pakiklaro naman sa Star Cinema kung saan galing na hindi na ako kasali na parang ang kapalit yata si Pokwang [I heard about that piece of news and I even asked Direk if it was true Pokwang was replacing me].”
Eugene adds, “Kung hindi naman nasali, tatanggapin ko din—pero pipilitin ko pa rin kahit cameo role lang dahil gusto ko talagang masali [But if I really wasn’t part of the movie, I would have also accepted that, yet still push for a cameo at the very least].”
When asked if she was ready to take over the throne of her best friend, Domingo humbly answered, “Ai-Ai de las Alas is my queen! That’s it! If she ever needs me for any of her projects, kahit anong tulong na maibibigay ko, suporta, ibibigay ko sa isang napaka-professional at mapag-bigay na artista katulad ni Ai-Ai delas Alas [Whatever she needs from me, I will give her because she is such a professional].”
The two also believe that their friendship serves as a sort of lucky charm for their projects. “It’s a gift, a blessing at magic talaga dahil noong nag-dub kami, pareho kami ng reaction na, ‘Grabe naman ‘tong mga mukha natin, bagay talaga, bilog yung sa akin, pahaba yung sa kanya! Ang ganda-ganda talagang tingnan. [Our tandem is perfect, down to our physical appearances—my face is long and hers is so round!]” laughs de las Alas.
While this may be the last Tanging Ina movie, the comedy queens said they hope that there will come a time when they could produce their movies on their own. “Parang sa Hollywood, sina George Clooney at Brad Pitt na nagpo-produce din ng movies nila [Just like Clooney and Pitt who produce their own movies],” explains De Las Alas.
Asked how they going head to head with the movie starring both Bong Revilla Jr. and Vic Sotto (Si Agimat at Si Enteng Kabisote),
Ai Ai said they were not feeling too pressured. “Basta ang sa akin, basta nagawa namin ang best namin at nagawa namin lahat yun, at sa tingin namin matutuwa ang buong publiko, OK na yun. “At saka, unang-una, idol ko si Bossing. At yung dalawang yun, hari ng pelikula. So, kung second man kami, OK lang. Sila naman. [So long as the public likes our movie, that’s good enough for us because we are up against two movie kings.]”
In Tanging Ina Mo Last Na ‘To, Ina Montecillo (Ai Ai de las Alas) returns to her simple life after becoming president of the country. Despite feeling largely forgotten, Ina doesn’t mind until she learns of her terminal illness and has barely six to eight months to live. Together with best friend Rowena (Eugene Domingo), Ina exerts her last efforts to try and make her loved ones happy and be the ultimate “Tanging Ina” to them all.
Director Wenn Deramas, who dedicates the series to his mother, says the third movie, is an experiment of sorts. “There is nothing funny about dying so the challenge was how to present it in a hilarious way without entirely losing the seriousness of the situation. In the first two movies, there were parts that started comedic and ended up being serious or start of serious then end with a punch line. This time we’ll try to make the audience feels both happy and sad at the same time, mixed emotions talaga.”
Tanging Ina Mo Last Na ‘To, opens December 25 and is the official entry of Star Cinema to the 36th Metro Manila Film Festival.