What happens after retirement?

Peewee and Jerry O’Hara star in this competition entry to the 18th Cinemalaya edition

What goes on after retirement? Such is the premise of husband-and-wife tandem Milo Alto Paz and Cynthia Cruz-Paz in their Cinemalaya entry, Retirada

Milo and Cynthia Paz

“We witnessed how some of our close relatives struggled to live out their senior years after retiring from an active day-to-day work life,” says Milo. 

The 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. routine drastically changed for these senior citizens. “Parang nawalan ng purpose at goal sa araw-araw, doon kami humugot ng idea (They lost their purpose, that’s where we got the idea),” adds Cynthia. 

Retirada is the story of teacher Azon (Peewee O’Hara) who turns to bingo after retirement because it gives her an adrenaline rush every time she plays. Her addiction affects her relationship with her family. Real life couple Peewee and Jerry O’Hara lead the cast. 

Real-life couple Jerry O’Hara and Peewee O’Hara

Peewee was a former teacher, which helped her in her portrayal of Azon. “Both Peewee and Jerry were great actors honed by their long experience in acting in all media platforms,” says the 60-year-old Milo.

The leads are supported by veteran stage and TV actors. Cynthia muses: “Lahat sa cast naming—Tata Nanding Josef, Donna Cariaga, Lui Manansala, Dexter Doria, Johana Basanta, and even yung one-sequence cameo roles nina Erlinda Villalobos, Dolly de Leon, and Lhorvie Ann Nuevo—puro magagaling. All are professionals.” All came on the set prepared and on time, with their script memorized. “They really collaborated with us,” she adds.

Milo and Cythia met in Taal, Batangas when they were working on a documentary on disaster preparedness. He was the director and cameraman while his future wife was the camera assistant. “Kuya pa ang tawag ko sa kanya noon (I was then even calling him brother),” she recalls. Their nine-year-old gap was not a hindrance to their romance.  

Retirada directed by Milo Alto Paz and Cynthia Cruz-Paz

In one word, Milo describes their married life as “frisky.” They balance each other out in a lively way just like Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, he says. “May times si Cynch yung makulit, unrealistic, and emotional (There are times Cynch is playful, unrealistic and emotional).” Milo is the more practical, playing the best friend and supportive creative collaborator. 

Making Retirada during pandemic was challenging for the couple since most of their actors were senior citizens or had comorbidities. “Priority was to keep all of us healthy,” says the Mass Communication graduate of St. Scholastica’s College. “We had a nurse on the set who was always on his toes monitoring everybody.” 

There was also a shortage of producers. The Paz couple even confessed to Cinemalaya chairman of competition and monitoring committee Jose Javier Reyes that they wanted to back out due to lack of funding. “He said, ‘Teka muna, wag muna kayong sumuko, (Do not give up). I want to see that film,’” recounts Cynthia.

Enter producer Ariel Diaz. “Gusto niyang maging part ng isang Cinemalaya film,” says Cynthia. “And malaki yung naitulong ng Monday Post (He wanted to be a part of a Cinemalaya film and Monday Post, his company, helped a lot.” 

Peewee O’Hara plays a government retiree

Milo’s love for cinema began when his father would tag him along to standalone theaters with double feature movies in Caloocan. “I hope that more people will watch the Cinemalaya films given that we’re still in the middle of the pandemic,” muses the Taxi ni Pilo director. “I hope they find the motivation to see films again on the big screen.” 

Retirada screening schedules are Aug. 9, 9 p.m. at Tanghalang Huseng Batute, Aug. 11, 3:50 p.m. at Ayala Cinemas and 6:15 p.m. at CCP Main Theater, Aug. 12, 4:30 p.m. at SM Cinemas, Aug. 13, 6:15 p.m. at Tanghalang Huseng Batute and 8:30 p.m. at Ayala Cinemas, and Aug. 15, 11:30 a.m. at SM Cinemas.