top of page

Laurice, Sunshine, Therese bat for films that promote women

March 7 ------ In honor of International Women’s Month this March, we celebrate three generations of women—Laurice Guillen, Sunshine Cruz and Therese Malvar—who played characters that showed strength, resilience and great love for family in Jay Altarejos’ tragic drama “Guardia de Honor.”


The film, which will have its world premiere at an A-list European international film festival in April, is all about “the emancipation of womanhood,” said Altarejos, who also wrote and edited it. “While it’s a story of a family, it also attempts to ask the question, ‘What kind of family breeds a killer?’ It’s a family that’s seemingly happy, educated and moneyed. But as the movie progresses, you will see that it is dysfunctional. How far does this dysfunction go?” “Guardia de Honor” is based on the story of an off-duty policeman who shot dead at point-blank range his elderly female neighbor and her son in Paniqui, Tarlac, in 2020. “While this was the inspiration, deep within, the story is the triumph—even at a very small scale, even though it happened only inside their home—of women against society,” he declared. Malvar plays Marie, “who is the very timid, reserved daughter of Eddie Boy (Allen Dizon). The three women are going through something difficult individually, but are linked through this weird relationship,” explained Malvar. “We will eventually discover why she chooses to be quiet, why she is always awkward when her father is around. What his father does to her results in boiling anger and resentment toward him.”


Family honor

Cruz is Minda, Marie’s aunt. “She is also timid and lacks confidence. She allows Mamang Anita (Guillen) to treat her like a helper. She cooks, does the laundry, helps bathe her niece, but whatever she does is never enough. There’s also this bigger and darker secret that Minda keeps, something that happened when she was with her late father,” she explained. Mamang Anita shows the same feelings, sentiments and intuition of a wife and mother, as she tries to bury guilt within her, explained Guillen. “I think she’s a tortured character. She has the natural instinct to protect the people she loves. There’s also the inclination to hide the sins of the family, particularly of her husband and son. I suppose that, all her life, she is bothered by her conscience. Two forces are at play—one for self-preservation, or her family’s, and the other force is her relationship with God,” Laurice began. “There’s this important scene when she finally decides to protect the female members of her family. At the same time, she becomes the guardian of the family’s honor. That’s the irony there, because it’s really a dishonor, especially in the eyes of God,” Guillen explained.


To be a woman

Similar to their characters, the three women are in different phases of their lives, but all agree that today is a great time to be a woman. “Women of our generation are blessed to have independence and confidence, largely because the women of generations before ours made sure of this. They actually told us to believe in ourselves, to not say, ‘Hindi ka babae lang. Babae ka.’ Because of that, it made us more vocal, more empowered and stronger. Even in our young age, we are able to make confident decisions when it comes to our future,” said Malvar. Guillen, however, has an interesting take on the topic. “I was born a woman, raised a woman, had a relationship and got married to a man, and eventually had children. I suppose I can say that I’m fulfilled as a woman. Of course, there are opportunities, largely I think during the important turns in my life, but I was the one who made the decisions. I would say I’m lucky that I don’t live in a culture that prohibits a woman from making choices,” she added. For Cruz, Malvar and Guillen, today is about encouraging women like Minda, Marie and Anita to remain hopeful and find the courage to speak up. “I’m an introvert. I stay at home whenever I don’t have work, so I reach out to people through social media. It is where I post things that can inspire single moms, or women in general. My life is an open book. You know how I managed to survive the most difficult time in my life. I post not to boast but to inspire others, to say that when you fall, you can eventually get up and dust yourself,” he pointed out.



Meanwhile, Malvar said she hoped she was able to impact others, especially whenever she would participate in talks and roundtable discussions on certain issues concerning women. “As a film producer, I also hope to work with women, to be part of a women-led production team that creates stories that are also women-driven,” said Malvar. Guillen, who is one of the first women filmmakers in the country, added: “When I first ventured into directing, it was only Rosa Mia [who started directing films in the 1950s]. I don’t know how many movies she made. Also, Marilou Diaz-Abaya [as a drama director]preceded me by a year, as well as Maria Saret, who was an action director. When you think of it, you will not venture into directing if you’re the type who gets scared easily,” she pointed out. “At the time, I had to be a director because the films I saw, even those that are generally regarded as good, still failed to depict women’s intuition and point of view. I felt that there’s something I could contribute—the voice of a woman.”




bottom of page