‘The Pleasure of Being Served’ to be a full-length feature film

Rosa (portrayed by Maan Cruz) contemplates her future as she leaves the Manhattan apartment of her American employer.

The 2017 short film by writer-director Michael Manese has evolved into a full-length screenplay!

In the original short, the film follows the journey of Rosa (played by Maan Cruz), the main character, as she grapples with her conflicting emotions while working for Hudson (Graham Powell), a young wealthy American. On one hand, she witnesses his womanizing ways and multiple affairs, and on the other, he provides the financial lifeline she so desperately needs.

The short film garnered recognition at 22 prestigious film festivals worldwide. Notably, it graced the 40th Asian American Film Festival in New York, where it was featured at the esteemed Asia Society Museum.

Rosa, an undocumented immigrant from the Philippines, faces the immense challenge of saving up enough money to reunite with her young son, Richard, in the United States. She toils as a housekeeper for Hudson. One peculiar aspect of her job is the intricate juggling act she performs between Hudson’s two girlfriends, Lynn (Angelita Esperanza), a fellow Filipina, and Jen (Mara Lee Gilbert), an American woman. Neither of them is aware of the other’s existence. These women take turns visiting Hudson on alternating weekends, and Rosa’s primary responsibility is to discreetly manage the rotation of photos, toothbrushes, and laundry, depending on which girlfriend is in town.

As the plot unfolds, Rosa’s life becomes increasingly complicated. She forms unexpected bonds with the two girlfriends. The American girlfriend Jen is a single mother like Rosa and becomes a close confidante as they share their love for romance novels and navigate the challenges of raising children. Lynn, also a Filipina, becomes a friend with whom Rosa converses in Tagalog. Later, they discover familial connections that tie their families together in the Philippines.

Rosa’s relationship with Hudson is multifaceted. His immaturity and the fact that he was raised by a Filipina nanny awaken Rosa’s maternal instincts. Simultaneously, she finds solace in their conversations, oscillating between friendship and a potential deeper connection.

However, Rosa’s overarching objective remains unwavering: raising enough funds to bring her son to the U.S. Her quest leads her into a web of intrigue when she encounters an unsavory character who offers fake passports and social security cards. Despite her undocumented status, Rosa refrains from reporting any crimes committed against her to the authorities.

As the story unfolds, the central questions loom large. How will Rosa handle Hudson and his philandering ways? What will happen to her newfound friendships with these two women, as she unwittingly enables Hudson’s infidelity? Can she amass the necessary funds in time, all while staying one step ahead of immigration officials closing in on her undocumented status?

These questions form the core of a captivating narrative that explores the complexities of love, friendship, and the relentless pursuit of the American Dream.

Writer-director Michael Manese (at left)


The screenplay offers a captivating glimpse into the Philippine diaspora in the Northern New Jersey and New York City areas. The narrative predominantly unfolds in Tagalog, with English subtitles for the audience. English is reserved solely for scenes featuring Rosa’s interactions with the Americans, Hudson and Lynn, providing an authentic representation of the linguistic tapestry that characterizes the immigrant experience in this locale.

Born in the Philippines and raised in Passaic, New Jersey, Michael Manese studied filmmaking at Rutgers University. He has been making films for more than 20 years.

“My goal as a Filipino American filmmaker is to   produce films that that are “thought-provoking, daring, and experimental that can also reach a wide audience”  he told The FilAm in an interview.

His screenplay “Talk Show” was staged at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe’s Fifth Night Scriptreading series in March 1996. This led to a series of scriptreading jobs for companies such as Apostle Pictures, Foxboro and New Line Cinema.

He said, “I’ve been making short films, on and off, for the last 20 years. It’s not only until my last two projects that I think I’m finally getting it all together.”

Leave a Reply