After streaming on Upstream.ph and KTX.ph last January, The Women of TONTA Club, a satire-comedy about the members of a fictitious women’s organization called The One N True Alliance (T.O.N.T.A.) Club, will be shown for free on YouTube in celebration of the International Women’s Month.
Starring Nova Villa, Tetchie Agbayani and Tina Paner, the film shows the different personalities that make up groups like this, their quirks and identity clashes, as well as the challenges that they face. Through all these conflicts, the ladies manage to organize projects for a good cause and still remain friends.
While the film itself is a work of fiction, the situations are definitely based on real life. Co-writer and producer Rossana Hwang elaborates, “In my late 30s, I joined a women’s group. Although the ladies have social activities like holding parties and traveling together, they also do a lot of charity. They organize projects to raise funds for the less fortunate. Amidst all these, there are interesting characters, drama and friendship. The situations can even be funny.”
Her experience in the women’s group motivated Rossana to create the story of three friends who all belong to a women’s social club. There’s Marlyn (played by Nova), a successful businesswoman who wants to be a socialite; Aida (played by Tetchie), a shoe entrepreneur with a seemingly perfect family life; and Lani (portrayed by Tina), a hardworking sales agent whose husband is sick.
She says, “I wanted to write about the dynamics among the members and what goes on behind-the-scenes, while also highlighting that these ladies are an unrecognized force in society.”
The producer’s reasons were also affirmed by her co-writer, Norman Boquiren, who came up with the shooting script after one month of discussions with Rossana.
No movie about the movers and shakers in women’s organizations would be genuine without Filipinas who are leaders in their respective fields. Rossana, a book author and award-winning dessert maker, tapped into her network of friends and associates for ladies who were willing to make cameo appearances. Those who heeded her call included social media superstar Small Laude, actress-chef China Cojuangco, and Philippine Swimming, Inc. president Lani Velasco.
The Women of TONTA Club is not only the first offering of Rossana’s production outfit Kapitana Entertainment Media. As far as Rossana knows it is also the first Filipino film with a women’s socio-civic organization as the central theme. Thus this project is the writer-producer’s contribution to expanding the landscape of Philippine cinema. “I’ve noticed that there are few local movies that present stories about women in their 40s, 50s or older…” Rossana muses. “I want to change that,” she adds. “Mature women — older people for that matter — have fascinating stories to tell.”