A huge, golden sea turtle that reminds viewers of Finding Nemo’s crush, swimming underwater alongside a team of divers, easily makes one think he is watching a Disney feature.

While the turtle is not animated, it’s real, the swimmers are doing underwater action, as well. That is the opening scene in director Brillante Mendoza’s latest film, Sisid, that weaves an environmental problem into its plot.

Marine biologist Jason (Paolo Gumabao) goes to Pola with his cancer-stricken wife, Abby (Kylie Verzosa). Midway into the story, Jason and his diving assistant, Dennis (Vince Rillon), get attracted to one another and subsequently give in to their carnal desires.

Thus, a BL (Boy’s Love) story happens mid-way into the plot. After their dive, a cramp on Jason’s right arm led to a soothing massage by Dennis. The former undoubtedly felt something, but initially kept it to himself.

Paolo Gumabao plays the marine biologist Jason in the fi lm.

Individually, however, the guys find themselves in contradicting situations. Jason and Abby have been trying to have a baby for seven years, while Dennis gets his girlfriend, Tanya (Bermas), pregnant.

The second time they were left on their boat, in the middle of the sea, there was no more stopping Jason and Dennis from releasing their feelings for each other. They passionately kissed and sex happened inevitably.

Vince said his love scene with Paolo on the boat was executed sans any protective gear. Direk Brillante disclosed there were frontal shots for Vince and Paolo that were edited out for Vivamax, but will make it to the Director’s Cut of Sisid, eventually for film festivals abroad.

That was not a one-time tryst, though. The guys did a couple of other risque scenes, on the beach and outside the house of Jason and Abby, where they were caught in the act by the wife.

Vince, who debuted in director Brillante’s Captive (2012), couldn’t believe that he was seeing himself again on the big screen after nearly three years of streaming. “Hindi ko masabi ang tamang words,” he said. “I still could not move on seeing myself again on the big screen.”

Sisid had a special press preview recently. The film captures the pristine beauty of Pola, Mindoro and its rich marine life, coral reefs and the environment.

Filmed with actual Bantay Dagat guides, who taught the stars how to dive, Sisid boasts of Mindoro’s protected coral reefs. Pola town Mayor Jennifer Mindanao Cruz (former actress Ina Alegre) plays herself, appearing in a few scenes with the actors and the townspeople.

It was the first time for Paolo and Vince to do a love scene in a BL plot. Vince could not explain how he was able to pull off the intense scenes with Paolo.

“Iba ‘yung mundo ko nu’ng ginagawa ko ang love scenes namin ni Paolo,” Vince said. “Hindi ko alam kung paano ko nagawa ‘yun. Ang preparations namin ni Paolo, we were OK. We immediately connected. We didn’t find (the filming) difficult. We know our limitations as men.”

Admittedly, he enjoyed doing the playful love scenes with Paolo. “Parang naglalaro lang kami sa set. Masaya. Hindi ako talagang nahirapan. No awkward shots and scenes with me and Paolo.

“Hindi naman pwedeng ipakita na nahirapan kami sa love scenes in the middle of the beach. Kahit mabato, kahit nati-tibo na kami. Hindi kasi nagka-cut si direk. Kahit na matinik ang nilalakaran namin. So hindi kami bumibitaw.”

There were hardly any challenging scenes for Kylie for her role. Neither did she do any love scenes with her leading man. “Chill lang ako sa set,” she allowed. In fact, she only had four shooting days for her character in Sisid.

Irma Adlawan as Dennis’ understanding mom and Mayton Eugenio as Blessie, the supportive friend of Abby, delivered memorable portrayals, too.

Direk Brillante insisted he only had one strict instruction to his actors. His motivation to all of them is also the same.

“Even though I’ve worked with professional actors like Nora Aunor, and then newcomers like Christine (Bermas) or Vince. Of course, even Kylie and Paolo. Or kahit na ‘yung mga hindi professionals or well-known.

“I don’t treat them differently. My feeling is that ang tamang emotions naman, hindi na kailangan maging professional ka pa. As long as your emotions are real, tama ang lalabas sa loobin mo. Once the actors get my style,makikita mo naman sa ang genuine emotions nila.”

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