Maja Salvador: Running on Inspiration

She has been in the showbiz industry for several years and has proven her acting skills both in television and movies, yet somehow you could never shake the feeling that there’s still so much more about Maja Salvador.
Like a running event, Maja’s career hasn’t exactly been a 100-meter dash to success. Instead it is more akin to a marathon event that is very evenly paced—seemingly paving the way for a very lengthy career. 
She clearly possesses all the necessary traits required to last in the competitive world of show business– gifted with natural acting ability and a face that radiates beauty the longer you look at her, she also has the right attitude and the commitment to always improve her craft.
Attitude and commitment that has been put to the test in her upcoming indie movie “Thelma”—which puts her in the titular role for the first time. Incidentally, the movie is about running and could very well reflect just how much effort Maja gives to her career.
Life is a race

Thelma, is the story of a mischievous and tomboyish teenage barrio lass from Ilocos Norte. Her passion is running which serves as an outlet for what she perceives as life’s misgivings. Thelma isn’t what people expected her to be — her farmer father, Aldo wanted a son; and her mother, Floring  was in the middle of a possible athletic running career when she came along. She lives in the shadow of her younger sister Hannah who is smarter and favored by her parents. Despite her hidden envy of her, Thelma loves Hannah and they are the best of friends. 
Disaster strikes when the sisters take a forbidden shortcut across a new highway, and Hannah is run over by a speeding car, almost killed, and practically crippled for life. Her only hope to walk again is an expensive operation they cannot afford. From then on, life is an even heavier burden for Thelma until she enters a road race and wins. This sets Thelma in motion, on a journey to use her gift of strength and speed, to run for her sister’s possible recovery, for her family’s hope to rise from desperate poverty, and to redeem herself from the past.
Thelma runs and wins all the way to Manila, where she grows into a beautiful, young, female athlete, with new horizons and challenges. She finds friends and falls in love, tastes sweet victory and suffers bitter defeat.  In the climax of her crucible, homesick, hungry and heartbroken, Thelma is torn between giving up and going home, or going the distance with everything she’s got. 
Perfect choice

During the press conference for her movie, Maja said despite being her most physically and emotionally challenging role so far, it was the theme that she found most attractive. “It’s a very inspiring story about the triumph of the human spirit,” she told reporters. “Like Thelma, I have also known hardship, that’s why I found it easy to identify with her. 

Director Paul Soriano said Maja was his first choice to play the role of Thelma and that everything seemed to fall into place. “I was looking for a very talented actress, with an athletic build and was familiar with Ilocos and could speak Ilocano, and Maja fit perfectly.”
Maja definitely proved she was the right choice as she gave in to the physical demands of the role that required her to run like an athlete. Since most of the scenes involved running, Maja often felt exhausted at the end of the shoot. “Maja literally gave her blood, sweat and tears to this movie,” said the director. “She never complained about working 14 to 16 hour days, with very little sleep and gave her full commitment to this project.”
There were even times when Maja’s feet would bleed from extensive running scenes, but instead of asking for a break, she would simply splash Betadine and rubbing alcohol on her feet, and would start running again for a different scene.
At one point though Maja collapsed on the set due to exhaustion and was immediately rushed to a hospital. But just after a few hours of rest Maja requested to go back to work and continue shooting.
“I just didn’t want to cause any delay,” Maja said simply.
These made Soriano very proud of his lead actress saying, “Maja shed blood, sweat and tears to portray Thelma. The production couldn’t be any happier that Maja wasn’t just the correct choice; she was the perfect choice—driven, motivated, passionate and talented. Very much like the screen role she portrays, Maja Salvador is Thelma,” Soriano quipped.
The movie also stars Tetchie Agbayani and John Arcilla as Thelma’s parents, Eliza Pineda as her sister Hannah and Jason Abalos, as the track and field teammate who develops a special bond with Thelma as they train together.
To help train Maja for her running scenes track and field champion Elma Muros served as consultant for the movie and also plays a special role onscreen as the running coach.
Soriano said Muros also served as one of the many inspirations for doing the movie.
Direk Paul said he had always been a fan of sports themed flicks and although Thelma is about running, he says it is merely a subplot in the movie, as it is also a story of dreams, determination and making the right decisions.
Facing rumors and criticisms

With their closeness in the film it was not surprising that Maja and director Paul Soriano would be linked romantically. The two just laughed it off, with Maja saying it was just work and that she has a lot of respect for both director Paul Soriano and his girlfriend, actress Toni Gonzaga.
Maja, however, admits to being hurt by the incessant rumors that keep hounding her. The young actress says she’s been called a playgirl, an alcoholic and a boyfriend-stealer.
Trying to hold back her tears, Maja says she’s just human to be affected by all the hateful criticisms thrown at her. “I don’t know what they have against me, I am just trying to do my job, not just for me and my family but for all the people who continue to support and put their trust in me” she lamented.
Maja who admitted to contributing part of her talent fee to help produce the movie says she is quite grateful that Star Cinema will be releasing the movie.
Thelma opens nationwide beginning September 7, 2011.
watch the trailer below :

canned thoughts: controversies aside (star magic brawl and all) this is one nice looking film, from the cinematography, the colors, and the scenic shots. maja salvador of course is a very good actress and with a cast composed of john arcilla, tetchie agbayani and jason abalos this is one pinoy movie to watch out for.
By Ed Uy

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