By BOY VILLASANTA
Filipina actress Mercedes Cabral, who went to the 61st Cannes Film Festival as part of the Filipino delegation and castmember of "Serbis", the Brillante Mendoza film now in competition for the Palm d'Or and other awards, has been included in the roster of most beautiful women to walk the red carpet in this year's Cannes.
And, truly, she looks every inch the Filipina beauty in her photo call shot for "Serbis" as can be seen in this gallery.
Cabral was included in an online poll sponsored by Australia's Daily Telegraph, and is in the running for the most favorite among all the international beauties chosen by papparazzi at the Cannes red carpet events.
“I couldn’t believe it. Imagine, kabagu-bago ko pa lang sa industry, napili na nila ako sa lineup. At sa Cannes pa,” said Mercedes Friday afternoon, just hours after she returned to the Philippines from France. She had to get back to work on the set of Outline Films’ “Latak” where she is part of the cast.
Cabral is ecstatic about her being included in the online poll, along with some of the world's most beautiful and glamorous actresses, including Penelope Cruz, Natalie Portman, Salma Hayek, Linda Evangelista, Catherine Deneuve. Aishwarya Rai, Cate Blanchett, Paz Vega, Joan Chen and many more.
Those who wish may vote for Cabral here. (Scroll down the page to go to the poll box)
And to think that Cabral's movie career is barely four months' old! Although Cabral already honed her acting chops in theater productions, her career as film actress is fairly new.
Cabral recalls going to Cannes bringing along just a single Filipina dress made especially for her by renowned designer Patis Tesoro. The dress was for the red carpet presentation on the Cannes premiere of "Serbis".
“Naiwan pa ang luggage kung saan kaya nakiusap pa kami sa Nice airport officials na dalhin agad sa amin ang maleta dahil nando'n ang isusuot ko sa red carpet presentation,” she said. Her other pieces of wardrobe were made and lent to her by popular fashion czar Goulle Gorospe, to be worn during parties and other functions.
Cabral and "Serbis" scriptwriter Armando Lao were among the last team from the Philippine delegation to arrive in Cannes. They got out of the airport at past one in the morning and took a 45-minute ride to their hotel.
Cabral went straight to the room she shared with actress Jaclyn Jose and the wife of a cinematographer.
“I went to sleep at around two. We had to be up at seven in the morning to get to the photo call at the Palais de Festivals at nine o'clock,” she recalled.
Her luggage was late in arriving, so she had to make do with dark pants, a blazer and a white shirt in time for the photo call--not exactly the most glamorous of outfits, but still the papparazzi was smitten by her beauty.
She was happy that a lot of reporters, photographers, including the paparazzi, were milling around the Filipino group.
Her luggage arrived later in the afternoon, just in time for her to slip into the Tesoro gown that she wore during the red carpet at four o'clock.
“'Serbis' was well-received. We had a full packed audience. There was a standing ovation but we had to leave the theater immediately after the showing, because there was already the next group,” she said.
After the official screening of “Serbis,” she noticed the mixed reactions, some acerbic, some kind. “Siyempre, kinabahan din si Direk Dante (Mendoza), pero sabi niya, gano'n talaga ang critics," she said.
Cabral still can't believe how lucky she is to be cast in major films this early. She's also in the Korean film “Thirst”, directed by the 2004 Cannes Grand Prix winner director Park Chan-wook who did the internationally acclaimed film “Oldboy.”
“Wala na yata akong mahihiling pa at this point. Parang panaginip pero alam ko, marami pa akong dapat matutunan," she said.