by Nathan Perez
Screenwriter, Dama de Noche
My father had a long history of working in the Middle East as a skilled laborer during the Marcos era. He was amongst the first few Filipinos who were exported overseas to answer the needs for additional manpower in richer countries while boosting the economy of the Philippines through their remittances. It is not an unusual story for us, Filipinos. In fact, Studio Onse, particularly the people who worked behind Dama de Noche’s production, are mostly OFW-related people. Karen Adiova, our director of photography is a proud daughter of a Hong Kong-based mother, Jill Aspiras, our project research head has relatives settled and working abroad and Lawrence Sibug, our director is a son of a retired nurse who worked for three decades in the Middle East.
It goes to say that, though OFW story is a relatable narrative for Filipinos, the commonness of the theme makes it also as unexciting as the “mayaman versus mahirap” themed Filipino series. So, the theme was actually last among the list of the stories that we were trying to develop at the onset.
One night, in a ‘yosi sesh’ (I’m a legit second-hand smoker, by the way), Sibug told a story about a neighbor’s wake that gone royal rumble as the relatives’ angst and anger exploded like a bomb in front of a solemnly sympathetic crowd. “Ano kayang pakiramdam ng patay?” a question that punctuated his story. It may really sound so stupid to think about the feeling of the person in the coffin while the drama happens, but that stupidity led us to a striking concept. Hence, the birth of Daisy Resurreccion’s character.
Daisy is Dama de Noche, the lady of the night, the star of the story, the most important person for everyone who loves the fragrance of balikbayan boxes, the family’s only champion who would take that same responsibility even as she passes on.
Before I was able to finally pen the screenplay, our then untitled storyline went through a rigid series of brainstorming that is full of contrasts and disagreements. But we all agree with one thing: someone’s death reveals the character and traits of all the people around, and marrying the concept of death to narrate the plight of the OFWs is but another level of story perspective.
Dama de Noche is a list of relevant issues – family, relationships, money, politics, greed – all revealed through the eyes of someone who is fated to see nothing more than the last few moments before her death. If given a chance, I personally want to have Daisy power. The power to witness how people will look at me when I’m gone, how my passing can affect the lives of the people around me, and how many people still care.
My father’s career in Saudi, together with other colleagues, ended when in 1986, the year of the Edsa People Power that ended the two-decade dictatorship of Marcos, they were repatriated after being imprisoned for speaking against the labor harassment that they experienced in the hands of their employers. You read it right, they were harassed, yet they were the ones who were jailed. In all different ways and manners, with different beginnings and endings, we have met a Daisy Resurreccion and we have heard her story.
You can follow Nathan and his creative adventures at https://www.behance.net/thenathanperez