It’s been four years since a petite and dusky actress named Althea Vega made her screen debut in Joel Lamangan’s controversial indie film “Walang Kawala”.
Since then, she has appeared in one indie film after another, and not a few have made it to film festivals abroad.
Althea recalls her audition for “Walang Kawala” where she portrayed an OFW who comes home to find her husband, played by Polo Ravales, engaged in a homosexual affair.
“I really auditioned for that project. I wanted to try making an indie film. May mga kaibigan kasi ako na lumalabas na sa mga ganyan, so naisip ko bakit hindi ko rin subukan,” she recalled.
Aware that the director would be Joel Lamangan and the cast would include not just Polo but also Jean Garcia, Emilio Garcia, and Joseph Bitangcol, Althea made sure to give her best during the audition.
She won the role, and got a baptism of fire on her first shooting day — she had to disrobe and perform a sex scene with Polo.
“Kasi ang role ko, OFW na matagal na hindi nakasama ang mister niya. Kaya noong makauwi ako, uhaw na uhaw ako sa sex. Isipin ko raw na nire-rape ko ang isang lalake. Sabi ni Direk Joel na kailangan daw ay ‘yung sobra akong uhaw para sa mister ko. Kaya ‘yun ang ginawa ko,” she said, laughing.
“I had no time to get conscious anymore. Ang iniisip ko ay magawa ko ang eksena nang maayos para hindi ako mapahiya kay Direk Joel at sa kaeksena kong si Polo. I think mas na-shock pa si Polo sa akin kasi todo-bigay ako sa scene namin.”
After “Walang Kawala”, Althea appeared in more indies like “Big Night”, “I Love Dreamguyz”, “Two Funerals”, “Kolorete”, “Halik Sa Tubig” and “Mga Anino sa Tanghaling Tapat”. She also came out in a mainstream horror flick, “Shake, Rattle & Roll 12″ (“Punerarya” episode).
On television, Althea was cast in supporting roles in “Amaya”, “Paano Ba Ang Mangarap?” and “Pangarap Kong Jackpot”.
Althea has two entries in this year’s Cinemalaya, Mes de Guzman’s “Diablo” and Aloy Adlawan’s “Ang Katiwala”.
“This is my second time to have an entry in Cinemalaya. I was in the cast of ‘Two Funerals’ in 2010 na dinirek ni Gil Portes. Now I have two movies in Cinemalaya. ‘Diablo’ will have a gala premiere on July 22 at CCP Main Theater. Yung ‘Ang Katiwala’ sa July 25 naman.”
She is especially excited about “Ang Katiwala” where she plays the wife of Dennis Trillo even though she is bummed that she did not have a love scene with him.
“Sobra akong nabitin!” she quipped, laughing. “Siyempre, minsan mo lang ma-experience na makasama ang isang Dennis Trillo. Kaso serious movie daw itong ‘Ang Katiwala’ at nabanggit nga ni Direk Aloy na walang mga love scenes.
“Natural na sobra akong nanghinayang. Ready naman ako any time kung may love scene kami ni Dennis. Basta sabihin lang ni Direk Aloy. Pero hanggang yakap lang kaming dalawa.”
Dennis, according to Althea, was very quiet during the filming of “Ang Katiwala”. She wasn’t able to get to know him on a personal level.
“Napaka-serious niyang tao. Kaya siguro magaling siyang artista. Nakakapagkuwentuhan din naman kami pero hindi madalas. Mabilis din kasi kami natapos ng shooting kaya walang masyadong time na mas makilala ko pa siya. What’s important is that I was able to work with him and he was nice to me,” she said.
Althea, whose real name is Melody Amor Cortez, grew up in a conservative family in Cagayan Valley. Her dad was a police officer and she wanted to take after him.
“Noong bata kasi ako, pinangarap ko na maging pulis din tulad ng father ko. Kasi tuwing uuwi siya, mga kuwento ng trabaho niya ang naririnig ko. Kaya teenager pa lang ako, nag-aral na ako ng martial arts. Gusto ko nga maging policewoman. Pero noong mag-college na ako, iba ang kursong kinuha ko.
“Ang father ko na rin ang nagsabi na delikado ang trabaho niya. Mas okey daw kung ibang kurso na lang ang kunin ko,” she shared.
Althea, now 23, earned a degree in Mass Communication from the Perpetual Help College in Las Pinas City. Before entering showbiz, she worked as a writer for a radio show in DZRH.
When Althea is not busy with her acting assignments, she works as a real estate agent for Century Properties. She says that being in showbiz is a big help in her other job.
“Malaking tulong ang pagpasok ko sa showbiz kasi marami akong nakikilala na nagiging clients ko. Namumukhaan naman nila ako kaya nagkakaroon ako ng maraming referrals,” she revealed.
“Hindi naman lahat ay iaasa mo sa showbiz, ‘di ba? Kailangan maging maabilidad ka rin. May iba kang dapat na pagkakitaan pa. Hindi naman parati ay may ginagawa kang pelikula.
“At least, napaghahandaan ko na lahat. Kung sakaling mag-iba na ako ng career, meron akong ibang magagawa.”