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Joanna Ampil Sings the Movie Theme Song of CULION

Manila, Philippines - Just two years ago, Joanna Ampil, an award-winning musical theater-film actress, essayed her breakthrough role in the film Ang Larawan (The Portrait) for the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), which earned her the Best Actress nod.

This year, she's back at the MMFF to sing the official theme song of the historical drama film Culion. The song is titled "Kundimang Mahal," which features the music by Felipe de Leon Jr. - son of National Artist for Music Felipe de Leon - and lyrics by Michael Corroza.

"It's an absolute honor. I had to dissect the lyrics and how the music flowed to fully understand the emotion I needed to give justice to it," Ampil told

"I don't often do kundiman songs [traditional Filipino love songs] and to finally sing one and have the pleasure to record it is something I'll treasure," she added.

"It's all about the challenge and the learning process. It's easy to get into the emotions of the song. Everything was laid out for me. The words fed me with the emotions that needed to surface. Coupled with a very good tune that goes with the lyrics, it's become a wonderful piece."

While preparing to record the song, according to her, "It's really about getting into the story [of the film]."

"As an actor, I try to understand the background of the character who sings the songs and to create scenarios in my head that the characters went through. I will keep layering that up until it becomes so real in my head until it becomes almost tangible.

"I rarely use personal stories."

Culion is a film that seeks to debunk the stigma on Hansen's Disease or leprosy.

During our interview, Ampil shared her personal experience of being judged, "It's an everyday struggle for each person. But as someone with quite a public life, we're more vulnerable to attacks or judgments.

"Mine would be my weight. From the moment I started doing theater, I was already asked to look a certain way. I was 17 when I started, therefore, my body was still somehow developing. Having to keep and maintain a certain look, was a struggle. I even remember several newspaper articles that spoke about my weight more than the show or the performances.

"I think in this day and age, people know better not to talk about irrelevant things. But I've learned how to 'mindset' all that now. Those things were required of me to better the show, my performance."

Today, Ampil plays the role of Grizabella in the international tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats. The musical opened on 6 November and will run until 1 December 2019 at The Theatre at Solaire.

Learn more about Culion; visit its Facebook Page.

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