Wonder Special Series: Maris Racal

Art imitates life—in fashion and beauty, in photography, in literature and definitely in movies. The case is especially true for films that outright market themselves as “inspired by real events.” Case in point: Marupok AF, starring Maris Racal and directed by Quark Henares, which takes inspiration from a catfishing incident involving a trans woman that went viral in 2020. 

In case it’s been buried by all the other viral stories that have come to light since then, let us give you a refresher with the synopsis of Marupok AF: Janzen (played by EJ Jallorina) is a transgender woman who turns to online dating to find her next match. She meets Theo (played by Royce Cabrera), who fully accepts that Janzen is trans and pre-op—too bad it’s actually Beanie (played by Maris Racal) who has been messaging (and catfishing) her at all hours.

Maris is wearing a Bershka Blazer, Zara skirt and Stylist’s boots

Maris Racal, who plays Beanie Landridos, admits she felt “iffy” before agreeing to play the role. She knew coming in that the inspiration for the Marupok AF was already controversial, and that she would be playing the antagonist—the bully, the villain, the orchestrator of an elaborate plan to purposely mistreat someone. The only thing that lessened her worries? “Nakampante ako (I felt better) because this was all given consent,” she answers. 


Ayaw ko naman i-humanize talaga at bigyan ng sympathy si Beanie (I didn’t want to humanize and gain sympathy for Beanie),” admits Maris. “When people watch this movie, I want them to focus on the character of EJ Jallorina, who is JanzenTorres.”


The 26-year-old actress goes on to say that she wants people to walk out of the theater with a better understanding of what trans people go through daily. “Transphobia is real, and there are real people—women—who get bullied every day for being who they are, who they really want to be in life.”

It’s clear from our quick sit down that Maris understands her character isn’t the one who deserves any sort of empathy here. But she also understands her role as an actor, admitting that she never judges the characters she portrays. “Sineparate ko talaga yung real sa fiction, yung sa script (I separated what was real from fiction, from the script),” she explains. 


Putting aside what she might have read or heard in real life, Maris took to building her character based off the script that was provided to her. An artist through and through, she says: “I based my imaginations there, my feelings, kung paano si Beanie, paano ko siya na-create (how Beanie is, how I would create her).”

It’s true that Marupok AF provides Beanie with more of a backstory that could explain (but not substantiate) her actions. But the fact that Maris is able to fully separate herself from the character and can still call out Beanie’s faults—even pointing our attention to the real issue at hand—just goes to show how much she’s grown in her decade-long career.

Marupok AF first premiered in the Philippines at the 2023 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival. After making its rounds at international film festivals, it has finally come back home. “We’re very happy and alam kong maraming naglu-look forward na mga tao na mapanood ‘to (I know that there are a lot of people who are looking forward to watching the film),” says Maris.

And while we are still counting down the days until the commercial run of Marupok AF premieres, remember to walk into the cinema without preconceived biases. As Maris notes, this is not a film that’s meant to elicit awe and sympathy for the villain—Maris Racal does not play the role of someone we should try our hardest to understand. This is not an origin story. 


Art imitates life, not the other way around. 

“Marupok AF” is showing in theaters on July 10, 2024.

Maris Racal
Maris Racal

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Ⓒ 2022 Wonder ™ | All Rights Reserved

Photography Jerick Sanchez assisted by Roniel Sañez, Karl Rimando and Buddy Reyes 

Creative Direction Alexandra Lara

Interview and Cover Story Adie Pieraz

Fashion Direction Nicole Blanco Ramos

Styling Adrianne Conception 

Makeup Jay Salcedo

Hair Jaymar Lahaylahay

Special Thanks ANIMA Studios


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