Charlie Dizon makes another brave move by starring in an episode of Maalaala Mo Kaya that raises mental health awareness. The story titled “Purpose of Ate” revolves around Joan (Charlie) who will go through the pain of watching her younger sister Jaira (Bea Clark)’s battle with schizophrenia.
In this edition of Kapamilya Chat, Charlie mentioned she knows someone who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Apart from her basic familiarity with the condition, she was also provided with research materials and worked closely with director Raz de la Torre to fathom the depth of the story. She said the director was calm throughout but, of course, there was pressure on her part.
They first worked with each other via Kapamilya series A Soldier’s Heart. That was two years ago and for one cycle only. Charlie thinks her first scene with Direk Raz in A Soldier’s Heart wasn’t that perfect due to time constraints. Productions were still trying to get the hang of the new normal tapings at the time. Now, much familiar with the setup, they managed to give their best to their reunion TV project. Besides, according to Direk Raz, Charlie has mastered the art of drama, so much that she can penetrate her viewers’ emotions even without dialogue.
“‘Yun ang nakakatuwa kasi napatunayan ni Charlie, ‘yung being able to get doon sa maliliit na nuances at saka ‘yung napakakomplikado ng relationship [ng magkapatid] na hindi lahat sinasabi pero dapat maramdaman mo at dapat maka-identify lalo na sa magkakapatid. Nakuha niya lahat ng ‘yun,” said Direk Raz.
He added that the Kapamilya actress can pick up instructions fast, “Sasabihin mo lang nang konti, only keywords, nasasakyan niya agad. Very, very pro ‘yun, ‘di ba? I mean, para maka-pick up nang gano’n kabilis ang isang aktor with a complicated role, that’s proof kung gaano na ka-advanced yung skill level ng aktor na ito.”
Direk Raz has been directing for MMK for more than a decade and still gets surprised each time. For him, every story has its unique ability to touch viewers. Even he gets teary-eyed while watching the scenes on his monitor, and when he’s moved, that’s a validation that he and the actors are doing it right.
Charlie and Direk Raz believe in the power of teamwork. As the latter puts it, directors go through the same emotions as the actors since they must have a connection. “As a director, you just happened to be behind the camera pero ‘yung level ng empathy na meron ang isang artista, dapat meron ka din. Kasi you won’t be able to explain to your actors what the scene is about, ‘yung lalim ng eksena, you won’t be able to guide them at kung ano pa ‘yung kailangan nila i-improve sa performance if you don’t have the capacity to understand the emotions that the characters are going through.”
When asked their takeaways from the episode, Charlie mentioned Joan and Jaira’s tale does not romanticize but rather presents the realities of mental health issues. She hopes viewers may understand the weight of mental health and proper medication.
Charlie pressed, “Dapat talaga tama ‘yung pag-manage [ng mental health condition]. Huwag mag self-manage. Humingi talaga ng help from professionals.”
She also stressed the importance of open communication among family members, or checking on your friends, “Kasi hindi mo alam na may gano’n na palang dinadala. Akala mo close kayo pero on the surface lang pala, ang dami palang nangyayari sa kanya. Sobrang importante ng communication, kahit hindi nga verbally, kahit lang pakiramdaman or kahit araw-araw lang mangumusta ka sa mga mahal mo sa buhay. ‘Yun na ‘yung pinaka-least na magagawa mo.” Sometimes a simple message of “kumusta” can save a life.
Direk Raz further urged viewers to end the stigma about mental health as it eats up a person’s courage to seek professional help. He hopes the public realizes that mental health is as important as physical health, “In the same way na if I don’t eat the right food, pwede akong kulangin sa ganitong vitamins, pwede akong magkasakit. It’s the same thing with mental health, may mga imbalances sa katawan natin. And these are realities. Hindi natin dapat ikahiya.”
Catch MMK “Purpose of Ate,” tonight, October 8, on Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, and A2Z.