The Mango Bride is Going to the Movies

After waiting several years for the first film company to make good on their plan to adapt my novel to film, I took a reality check and withdrew from the deal. By then my literary agent and had I parted ways, and I continued the long dreary slog of revisions on a second novel that no one seemed to want. Not long after that, Penguin Random House declined to produce a second print run of The Mango Bride, and reverted all rights to me. My writing prospects looked bleak.

I took to buying $3 secondhand copies of my novel whenever I had money to spare, if only to save them from being pulped. Grupo Planeta Ediciones Madrid had done that to 800 unsold copies of the novel’s Spanish edition Hace una Eternidad en Manila, without giving me a chance to buy a few before they were destroyed.

I was determined not to let that happen again.

With the onset of the pandemic I leaned into my day job of interpreting, and even though I continued to write short pieces here and there, I began to give up on the dream.

Apparently the Universe had other ideas.

In April last year my former literary agent forwarded a message from Producer Micah Tadena at 108 Media, inquiring about film rights to my novel. Once burned, twice shy made me skeptical, but Micah persisted and set up a zoom meeting. Conversations led to a contract. and things were moving faster than I anticipated. I had no idea how to navigate a film deal without an agent to counsel me, so on the recommendation of the Producer/Actor Will Tiao (Formosa Betrayed) I hired his IP lawyer Kevin Mills to negotiate.

Over our monthly zoom meetings Micah discussed possible directors and actors to engage for the project. At her urging, I watched more Filipino films in six months than I’d seen in two decades. After watching Martin Edralin’s poignant film Islands at the San Diego Asian American Film Festival, I wrote the director to see if he would consider working on the film. By then Micah had pulled in Rae Red who’d produced the fabulous Babae at Baril (Girl and Gun) to write the screenplay. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas Micah presided over a zoom call that spanned three cities and as many time zones: Martin in Toronto, she and Rae in Manila and me in San Diego.

I love how a novel and film about the Filipino diaspora is a collaborative effort of Filipinos in three different countries.

Finally, the big secret we’d been holding all through 2021 was revealed the other day: that Megastar Sharon Cuneta had signed on to act and executive produce The Mango Bride film. When non-Filipino friends ask who she is, I say “Imagine if Brittney Spears had avoided the family drama, grew up to be an acclaimed actor like Julia Roberts, then took a break from movies and hosted a show as popular as Oprah’s.”

To see how this all played out, click on the links below:

Within 48 hours of the announcement, the price of my out-of-print, destined to be pulped novel jumped from $3 to $138 on Amazon. Several publishers have since inquired about obtaining the rights to reprint it. Funny what a difference a film deal makes.

Which just goes to show that my favorite postcard from Barcelona was right:

4 responses to “The Mango Bride is Going to the Movies”

  1. So glad and excited about the film version after reading your original English language novel and Danton Remoto’s Filipino translation as well.

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