Playing the title role in “Tanabata’s Wife” is Igorot actress Mai Fanglayan. It is a film adaptation of the classic short story by Japanese-Filipino author Sinai Hamada of the same name.
Fanglayan is a Mass Communication graduate of Saint Louis University in Baguio City. Both of her parents are from Mountain Province.
In an exclusive interview with Conan Daily, Fanglayan revealed that she did not really plan to audition for the “Tanabata’s Wife” role. She just accompanied a friend who wanted to audition for the role but the film’s staff asked her to audition, as well.
The audition took place in Baguio City, where Fanglayan currently resides. She was the last one to audition and just a few days later, “Tanabata’s Wife” started filming in Buguias, Benguet with her playing the lead female character.
Japanese actor-director Miyuki Kamimura plays the lead male character Tanabata, whose wife’s name is Fas-ang. According to Fanglayan, it was fun working with the actor, who is fluent in English.
The common denominator between Fanglayan and Fas-ang is their reluctance to be encaged by the norms. The actress explained that she and her “Tanabata’s Wife” role are both adventurous and they refuse to be limited by what the society dictates.
This is an interesting trait in Asia, where women are culturally expected to play the “women roles” and be submissive to men. In Hamada’s short story where the “Tanabata’s Wife” film is based, the amount of freedom Tanabata gave his wife was the starting point of the conflict.
The story of “Tanabata’s Wife” is set the early 20th century when La Trinidad, Benguet was home to Japanese immigrant farmers. It revolves around Tanabata, a Japanese farmer who falls in love with his Igorot farmhand, Fas-ang.
During the filming of “Tanabata’s Wife” in July 2018, Fanglayan had to brave the cold and the rain. The cast and the crew of the film rarely saw the sun while in Benguet.
In terms of acting, the challenge Fanglayan encountered was getting accustomed to the things Fas-ang does to make them appear authentic since she does not do these things in her everyday life. One of the things is chewing momma or betel nut.
While Fanglayan has previously appeared in a few short films, “Tanabata’s Wife” marks her full-length film debut. It also marks the directorial debut of Charlson Ong, who wrote the screenplay.
Also starring Kurt Alalag, Danilo Bulanay, Yoshisito Tsukasa, Brian Arda and Lito Casaje, “Tanabata’s Wife” is one of the seven official entries to ToFarm Film Festival 2018, which will run from September 12-18, 2018. The films will be screened in select cinemas including SM Megamall, SM Manila, Robinson’s Galleria, Trinoma, Greenbelt 1, Gateway, Gaisano Davao and Robinson’s Legaspi.
Here is the full interview with Fanglayan: