Half-a-ghost-of-a-chance along a journey on the facets of Philippine Independent Cinema, a face will persistently shadow upon some filmic meandering and tattoo on minds a subtle allure so totally fresh and unique. The face has a name : MERCEDES CABRAL. A name now casually being dropped as THE QUEEN OF PHILIPPINE INDIE. A title that so far nobody has attempted to refute since this twenty-five year old actress who never dreamed of becoming such as a child, fits the tag perfectly. ‘I only wanted to paint… I wasn’t aware then that I will eventually end up as an actress; My passion for painting grew up with me so I took up Fine Arts at the state university,” she languorously surmised as I grab some of her moments while being made up for a pictorial. Looking at her now , you can’t help but retrace the Mercedes you saw on ‘SERBIS’, her third film outing wherein she had no qualms dipping herself into the now taunted risqué scene with Coco Martin. Finely etched into the digital realm, Director Brilliante Mendoza was dead sure that he had a gem in his hands. Word around and beyond the industry now distinctly projects her as Mendoza’s muse : “ If Brocka had Hilda Koronel; Bernal had Rita Gomez; Goseingfiao had Alma Moreno… Brilliante Mendoza has Mercedes Cabral!” She breathes that Mendoza taught her how to carefully knot the nittier-grittier ropes of the trade. When asked to describe her mentor , she only has one word and said in awe : ‘Genius’. To top it all, when she graced Cannes Film Festival in 2008, she was no less acknowledged with the MOST BEAUTIFUL ACTRESS award ; an endearing tribute to the Filipina beauty .
In spite of perfumed accolades , an impeccable body of work and seven years into the business, she still is painfully shy and reserved. She refuses to answer questions that are subliminally erotic; questions that may start up as conservatively as ‘What turns you on?’. “That is TOO personal!” , she guffaws at what may seemingly be the edge of indifference. Her subtle refusal can only mean that her values are intact and are in no way compromised with the hurly-burliness of show business. “I aspire to keep a lot of essential truths to myself , things that ground me at all times,” she muses further. But as the way things are waxing up in her career, she might at some time choose to open up a bit now that a massive chunk of audience experience her on national television. Appearing on afternoon soaps ‘HIYAS’ (ABSCBN) and ‘MAGDALENA’ (GMA) easily gained her a new-found mainstream popularity as she is now all geared up as an almost indestructible villain on TV5’s new-age fantaserye ‘CASSANDRA : THE WARRIOR ANGEL’. As Eliza Bauer in GMANewTv11’s ‘BAYAN KO’ , Cabral gave the role an arresting performance as she embossed in every scene she was in. In her recent indie starrer Ian del Carmen’s ‘BAD ROMANCE’ , she wrecked havoc as a maniacal fan out to eliminate whoever came between her and her idol is a role that she wishes to reprise. “It’s these out-of-the-box kindav roles that really floor me; Bad Romance had this western flavor and if ever, I’d rare to do a stretched psycho role that vibes with our culture!”. But much more like a canvass, she is a white space ready to take colors, strokes and genre whenever necessary. “Choosy I am not since so far film offers coming my way are all challenging and my manager Shandii Bacolod only has the best decisions to make with regards to my career path,” She breathes to stress her point.
Everything is coming up roses with Mercedes Cabral, so to speak but how does she keep the package in perfect shape? Easy. Skateboarding! Not a lot in her league dares to sprint up some guts to try skateboarding but she is totally at home with it. ‘Gliding and maintaining balance is sporty as well as meditative; you will never realize that until you’re on it!’ Well said, and best heard from the Queen of Pinoy Indie Films herself!
*This piece of Paul H Roquia (EklaVumer / Xixi Maturan) also appears on the May 2013 issue of ISDA Magazine in a spread of breathtaking exclusive pictorial photos. Grab a copy soon!
- Tension in ‘Bayan Ko’ (manilastandardtoday.com)