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Coco Martin and Angelica Panganiban in 'Love or Money'. Image Credit: Supplied

Filipino director Mae Cruz-Alviar has filmed a number of hit movies such as ‘Crazy Beautiful You’ and ‘She’s the One’, but she says shooting for her latest release was a unique experience. The famed filmmaker shot ‘Love or Money’ in Dubai last year, right before the pandemic started.

The romantic drama features Pinoy superstars Coco Martin and Angelica Panganiban and has now released on streaming service iWantTFC.

Cruz-Alviar told Gulf News it was a special experience shooting for a Filipino movie in a country that is home to so many of her compatriots.

“It was a challenge to tell the story of these Filipinos. Dubai has a diverse set of Filipinos holding different jobs and social status,” she said in a round-table interview. “So, it’s a challenge to be able to tell a story that would resonate to all these Filipinos. And also, that it would resonate to the Filipinos back here at home.”

‘Love or Money’ is about former couple Leon (Martin) and Angel (Panganiban) who meet again in Dubai three years after Leon leaves Angel unexpectedly. When they cross paths again, Leon is working as a waiter while Angel is determined to realise her dreams of being wealthy and successful.

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A still from 'Love or Money'. Image Credit: Supplied

Cruz-Alviar says she felt at home while working on the movie in Dubai.

“Filming in a country that has lots of Filipinos is not only a challenge, but is also fun because we are at home doing the movie there. Shooting there really felt like home. They made us feel welcome. There were so many helping hands everywhere, so accommodating. The main challenge was how do we tell the story of every Filipino — those living in Dubai,” she added.

Telling an authentic story

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Coco Martin and Angelica Panganiban in 'Love or Money'. Image Credit: Supplied

Actor Martin said he has been to Dubai three times and is impressed by his compatriots who work here.

“There are so many Filipinos living in Dubai, and they are competitive, professional, proud of their work and happy with their jobs,” Martin said in a statement. “Their situation is good over there. I learned a lot from them. But you also feel a sense of sadness as they don’t have their families with them.”

Panganiban echoed her co-star’s statement, saying that getting her role right was a challenge.

“It’s a responsibility,” she said in a statement. “When you’re playing a role that represents your kababayan abroad, you have to be accurate. You have to make sure that they can truly relate to what they’re seeing. That when they watch it, they’ll say, that’s really how we are’”.