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Iza Calzado is pretty convinced that she felt the presence of her parents when she won the Best Acting Performance trophy for the controversial film, Bliss, at the 2017 Osaka Film Festival last March in Japan, a country where her mom and dad had fond memories.
Iza's mom, Mary Ann, passed away in 2002, and her dad Lito Calzado, a famed choreographer, director and actor, succumbed to liver cancer in 2011.
During one of the Japanese film fest's press conferences, a Filipino reporter based in that country asked Iza about her dad. The reporter mentioned she knew the reputation of Iza's father as a prominent personality in the Philippines.
“And the minute she said that, bigla na lang akong umiyak. Yung parang, I can’t believe somebody was asking me about my dad now, here [in Japan]. What, where is this coming from?” Iza recalled during a recent press conference for ABS-CBN's show, A Love to Last.
Iza explained that she took it as a sign that her parents were with her. “Parang, Dad, klaro nandito kayo ngayon.’"
“It was beautiful to feel that. Maybe some might say, ‘Nagkataon lang yon.’ But I don’t care, that’s not what I believe in. Sometimes it’s energy. Whatever it is, I accept it is God’s will. It made me feel good.”
Iza was only 19 years old when her Irish-Spanish-Filipino mom, Mary Ann Ussher, passed away. She once said, "The biggest mistake in my life is that I never gave my mom more time and more love when she was still alive."
In a caption for her Instagram post above, Iza said her father Lito was the "only man who saw the beauty in me even when I was obese, had frizzy hair and wore braces. [He] always believed in me and my potential to be successful even when I was failing in school and making crazy and destructive choices in life."
Iza explained why Japan was significant in her family's life. “We had a placement agency before that sent entertainers to Japan, and my parents spent a lot of time in Tokyo and especially Osaka. I haven’t been back since I was a child.”
Iza said she was surprised how her schedules and the trip have gone smoothly. “It was really perfect timing [and] everything fell into place,” she beamed.
Before the film fest in Osaka, Iza admitted she found herself at crossroads. “In life you question yourself, you wonder, ‘Am I on the right path?’ And am I still doing what I’m supposed to do? Is this really what’s meant for me?
“I would pray like that. I would ask questions. Sometimes I’m like, please show me a sign. So, I said baka sign sa mga magulang ko.”
Iza added that her parents might be gone, but their influence and values remain with her. She said her father, in particular, helped shape her passion and dedication for her career. “Because that’s how my father was. He was passionate and put his heart into everything that he did.”
She shared what she replied to the Japan-based reporter who she asked how about Iza's father's influence: “My father always taught me to put my heart into everything that I do, with sincerity and authenticity perhaps, and passion. I try to do that. I can’t say I do it all the time, but I try my best. Even with my relationships, I try."
This story was updated on April 24, 2017. An earlier version of this story misstated the year of the deaths of Iza's parents: Mary Ann passed away in 2002 -- not 2009. Lito died in 2011 -- not 2014.