Alone/Together is Antoinette Jadaone's first collaboration with the wildly popular LizQuen tandem, just one of the reasons why it was heavily anticipated. The second of many, maybe, is that it tackled a lot of references to the University of the Philippines—the writer-director's alma mater. No similiarities between Jadaone and Liza Soberano's character Tin, as we earlier learned, was made without deliberate thought.
"It’s my love letter to my college years," the UP Film and Audio Visual Communication (now a defunct course) alumna told ABS-CBN Lifestyle.
Once a Iskolar Ng Bayan (so called for the subsidized and very liberal education) herself, Jadaone as a UP student also breathed the same pressure that came with the identity. The 111-year-old premier state university has always been hailed as home to the country's most brilliant minds, producing politicians, scientists, revolutionaries, artists, media practitioners, and others of sterling caliber. In UP, an inside joke would frequently play up on these young, idealistic minds vowing—and then failing—to "change the system."
For Alone/Together, Jadaone straightforwardly personified a lot of this UP student-versus-the world picture through Soberano's character. Tin, an Art Studies major, pulsated with this youthful, UP student-signature energy every time she talked about how she'd realize her museum director dreams. She had it all planned, and the end of it was to return home and give back to her homeland. (To which her professor raised a brow on, at first—another stereotype in the UP faculty—with "Dayuhan ang makikinabang sa yo? Que horror!")
"While I was writing this, binalikan ko yung time ko as a UP student or college student," Jadone revealed the obvious. "Feeling ko, everyone has those intentions during those years when you feel so invincible that you can change the world. But once you graduate and face the real world, most become disillusioned."
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Right after the film's exposition, Jadaone shook the doe-eyed Tin and her vision. She went to introduce Tin, around five years later, as a miserable corporate girl whose big dreams got inadvertently shattered on the onset of her career. The latter flashbacks would also reveal the lead character's relationship going down with it, as she disregarded the overly free and easy Raf (Gil) stuck in school.
"That’s what this film tackles. Raf and Tin are in that period of their lives when they realize they are so different from what they have become and from what they actually really wanted to be," the writer-director explained.
As for her source of inspiration for Tin, Jadaone welcomed no limitations.
"No (inspiration) in particular, but more of a collective experience of people I know through college and at work—who have not really become what they intended to after graduating."
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Ultimately, for Jadaone, what made Alone/Together stand out among her other films wasn't just the UP theme. Nor it belonging to the romantic genre. The "hugot" director—who has famously directed primetime TV hits featuring another power couple JaDine On the Wings Of Love and Till I Met You, and also famously received major awards for the movie That Thing Called Tadhana—claimed it was the opportunity to churn out a more dynamic and evolved kind of storytelling.
"For my first few films, I’d write them 'cause I really wanted to tell those stories. I felt it was selfish in a way that I indulged in my own self-expression," Jadaone, who now boasts of more than a decade-worth body of work, declared. "Ten films after, I realized that cinema is a powerful medium and if I was given this chance to tell just love stories before, now I wanna tell a story that is more than just about love. I wanted to take that challenge knowing that my audience would be spending P200-300, to not just make them feel kilig, maiyak, or masaktan after watching my film. I want them to feel more than just those feelings, too.’
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Photographs courtesy of Black Sheep Productions | Interview by Jeffrey Hidalgo