Elora Españo is everywhere.
To be more specific, the sought-after, dusky actress is in the cast of just about every independent film that matters. Since making her film debut in Jim Libiran’s controversial sexy drama, Ninja Party, in 2015, Españo has been an indelible presence in acclaimed indies such as Tandem, Purgatoryo, Iadya Mo Kami, Siphayo, Seklusyon, Birdshot, Bhoy Intsik and Baconaua.
This year alone, she was in the cast of Mike de Leon’s comeback film Citizen Jake and just recently, starred in not just one but two films in the recently concluded Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, Jay Velasco’s sex comedy short, “You, Me and Mr. Wiggles” opposite Kiko Matos and a short but memorable supporting turn in Denise O’ Hara’s senility drama, Mamang.
And that’s not even counting “Status,” the extremely popular Kwentong Jollibee Valentine’s Day TV commercial that pretty much turned Españo into a household face and an online sensation after generating over 13 million views on Facebook and another four million on YouTube.
Now, Españo is back with another quality project, directed by no less than acclaimed filmmaker Chito S. Roño. She stars opposite fellow rising sensation, Christian Bables (Die Beautiful), in Signal Rock, an official entry in this year’s Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP).
Set mostly in the picturesque island of Biri, Samar, the film focuses on a young man’s struggle to keep his family and relationships intact. The title refers to the rock formations where the mobile phone signal is good enough to communicate to their friends and relatives who live outside the island.
“It’s a story about a community, dreams of simple Filipinos wanting a better life for themselves and their families. I play the role of Rachel, the love interest of Intoy, played by Christian,” Españo told this writer in a recent interview.
Españo, who worked in a similar island setting in Baconaua that was shot in Marinduque, said working on the film in the island of Biri—considered as one of the country’s best kept secrets—is an experience she’ll always treasure.
“The majestic rock formation, seafood and the very warm locals are just some of the things that come to my mind whenever I think of Biri now. We enjoyed the food, the people, the experience in general. We blended with the locals and it’s a good thing. We never feel alienated with the island. It felt like another home,” she quipped.
The actress added that what made the experience even more special is the fact that like Marinduque, it’s not easy to go to Biri as it involves hours of travelling via land, ro-ro (roll-on, roll-off) and boat after arriving at Catarman airport.
Working on the project is also a privilege for Españo as it has allowed her to work with award-winning director Roño.
“I feel blessed and thankful to be able to work with him. Being part of a good project with brilliant directors and equally brilliant actors is always a blessing.”
Signal Rock was also an opportunity for Españo also got to know her leading man up close and personal.
“Christian is a very giving professional actor, we had no issues or problems at all throughout our shoot. He is also a genuine person, we were able to jive right away and become friends later,” she shared.
Españo added that the bond of the whole cast and crew of Signal Rock also became deeper as a result of their experience. As for the actress, it looks like we will continue to see more of her in the months to come especially with festivals like QCinema, Cinema One Originals and the Metro Manila Film Festival still coming up.
“I think every role is relevant in telling a story. And every role that I do is close to my heart. Hopefully, I will get the chance to be part of more stories worth telling and doing more characters worth embodying,” she concluded.