Mira Aquino on HIV/AIDS: ‘I just wish these topics weren’t that taboo here’

Mira Aquino is eager to accept more projects after her stint in Sugat Sa Dugo.

In the advocacy film, the young actor portrays Daniela, the girlfriend of Jack played by Khai Flores. Their relationship is all rainbows and butterflies until they learn that Jack has HIV.

In a pocket press conference, Daily Tribune talked to Aquino about her first movie experience and why she thinks sex education shouldn’t be a taboo topic among Filipinos.

Daily Tribune (DT): How did you get into acting? Did you have any projects before Sugat Sa Dugo?
Mira Aquino (MA): Last year, I had movies but mostly they were on AQ Prime. I got to work then with Buboy Villar and Lou Veloso. Actually, before acting, I am a singer. My parents were so supportive that they decided to enroll me in different workshops. That’s how I developed a love for this industry. I experienced doing VTRs. I auditioned for Starstruck. I also did Tawag ng Tanghalan and joined a beauty pageant once.

DT: What year was Tawag ng Tanghalan?
MA: 2015. They were asking me for a resbak but I wasn’t able to go back na. I’m in a girl group called Gandaras. We were in a TV5 show called Pop Pinoy, but we managed to only be in the Top 8. Now, I’m pursuing acting.

DT: Is this your first movie?
MA: Yes. At the cinemas, too, so it’s a bit overwhelming.

DT: It centers on a heavy theme, HIV and AIDS awareness. What was it like going there?
MA: When I learned that the movie was inspired by the friend of Miss Bambbi Fuentes, I was energized just by thinking of doing movies with amazing causes, that educate the youth and even adults. It is taboo in the Philippines to talk about AIDS and HIV, that’s why I feel this movie is a platform to help with regard to that. Being part of this movie is a privilege.
DT: Before doing this movie, did you have any background on HIV or AIDS?
MA: To be honest, I was aware of it but I was not that educated. It was when I did Sugat Sa Dugo that I found out that there are different ways to contract HIV and AIDS. The discrimination against people living with it is too much. What they’re going through is not easy. There’s a story behind it. Matatauhan ka rin. Hindi lang kung ano ‘yung visible sa eyes natin ay ‘yun lang ‘yung dapat na alam natin.

DT: How did you find working with Janice de Belen?
MA: I didn’t have any scenes with her. She’s so professional, based on the stories of my
co-actors. Hindi siya sumasabak sa scene if she’s not ready. That’s what I learned from her. If you’re given a role, take time to study it para mas madala mo siya.

DT: Have your views on HIV and AIDS changed since Sugat Sa Dugo?
MA: Yes, my perspective has changed. My point of view on getting educated about sex has changed. I just wish these topics weren’t that taboo here. We’re protecting ourselves. We’re protecting the youth, the elderly, or people of any age because it’s health. Not only physical but emotional and mental. The whole you.

DT: Will you take on more acting projects after Sugat Sa Dugo?
MA: Yes. Hopefully. I’m so excited to see myself on the big screen. The fact na nakakasama ko na mga bigating artista, it’s inspiring. Sana dumami pa mga experience, learnings, and opportunities coming my way. I just wish Sugat Sa Dugo will be successful. Mga baguhan pa lang kami, kumbaga ito ‘yung stepping stone para makilala kami. I pray that the reviews are good.

DT: What genre are you targeting?
MA: When it comes to that, I don’t actually think about it. If the story is nice, has lessons, and the character is interesting, I want to do it. As long as my parents won’t get mad.

DT: They’re supportive that you did the movie?
MA: Yes, although there are some parts that shocked them. I grew up in the church. My parents work there. They’re supportive, but there are limitations when it comes to the roles I can accept. In Sugat Sa Dugo, I have kissing scenes, shots were daring and seductive. But acting is acting. Kung magtatrabaho ka ng ganoon, dapat panindigan mo.

DT: Do you also plan to pursue singing alongside acting?
MA: I write songs, too. I composed the song for this movie, “Hindi Ka Kulang.” That’s where my heart is, ang pagkanta. Ever since I was a child, doon ko binuhos lahat. If I’m happy or sad, I write songs.

DT: Any upcoming projects?
MA: Yes, it’s also a film. I’m just not sure if it will be released online or at the cinemas. My co-actor Christa Jocson is also there. We wrote a song about women empowerment, inspired by Maria Clara. We made it a bit modern. Hopefully, people will get to hear it.

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