Jasmine Curtis-Smith had often heard of Siargao and its splendors from sister Anne Curtis, brother-in-law Erwan Heussaff and boyfriend Jeff Ortega. But when she finally arrived on the island in Mindanao last summer for the shoot of Paul Soriano’s “Siargao,” she still got awed by its fabled beauty.
“Jeff had been going to Siargao even before there were direct flights to it,” she related. “He’d constantly tell me how beautiful it was. How kind and accommodating the people were.”
She plays an islander in the romantic drama, an entry in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival. “The script didn’t explain that my character was the daughter of a foreigner, but I noticed that there were tourists who had decided to stay there. They simply fell in love with the island.”
She hopes the film will inspire young people to protect and cherish our country’s natural treasures. “You don’t have to go far to find paradise. The island reminds us to have faith. We have so many problems, but Siargao shows just how blessed we are. We should focus on our nation’s gifts and help keep them alive.”
By sheer luck, her beau acted as her surfing mentor, as well.
“Two years ago, when we started dating, we’d go to La Union, where he taught me how to surf,” she recalled. By the time she started filming in Siargao, she already knew the basics of the sport.
“But I still needed a little push,” she admitted. “I wished to do well.” She wanted to impress the island’s residents and costar Jericho Rosales, a seasoned surfer himself. “I hope that I had the right form on the board. That I would pass Echo (Jericho) and the locals’ standards.”
She related that working with Jericho and costar Erich Gonzales was “wonderful.”
“Erich may look soft-spoken, but she is funny, too,” she volunteered. “We had a blast.”
Jasmine is glad that she finally got the chance to share the screen with Jericho. “He was supposed to be in ‘Transit.’ And we had another project that didn’t push through. I am glad I was given the chance to share this experience with him.”
She’s also ecstatic to reunite with Direk Paul, who produced the Cinemalaya film “Transit,” for which Jasmine won best supporting actress in the 2013 edition of the indie fest.
“This time, I got to see his work as a director,” she pointed out. “He trusts my process as an actor. He lets me be, but he also tells me if he needs something specific from me. I appreciate that.”
Direk Paul asserted: “Jasmine takes her craft seriously. She was truly immersed in the story during the shoot.”
Jasmine noted that Paul had drafted backstories for their characters. “So we’d know where our characters came from and be familiar with their hugot (angst).”
Not all directors are as helpful, she confessed. “Sometimes, you’re left to figure things out yourself.”
Next stop for Jasmine is another independently produced film, Jeffrey Hidalgo’s “General Admission,” costarring JC de Vera. “It’s something different. I’m really excited to start working on it next month,” she said.
“We’re all psyched to do it,” Jeffrey said. “She’s super perfect for the part. We did a little workshop and read-through, and she was great!”
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