Amid the positive reception that the film has garnered from various moviegoers, celebrities, and film critics, OTJ (On The Job) remains controversial not only by virtue of its theme but this time also by the originality of its plot.
Of late, rumors have been circulating online that the Erik Matti-helmed crime thriller’s plot has been purportedly copied from a 2009 French Film titled A Prophet by Jacques Audiard. According to research, A Prophet was also screened at the Cannes Film Festival and even won the second-most prestigious prize of the festival called Grand Prix.
During the press conference after the charity basketball game he organized last September 1 called Hero Ball, OTJ star Gerald Anderson maintained that the film was “100% Pinoy.” “Eh sana kung yun yung film na ginaya nila eh di sana yun na lang ang binili?” he asked, “I’m not the person to ask pero gawang pinoy yun 100%.” (Film distribution company Well Go USA acquired the North American distribution rights of OTJ ahead of its world premiere at the Director's Fortnight at 2013 Cannes Film Festival last May.)
The Hero Foundation ambassador reiterated that he’s just very happy about the feedback that he’s been seeing on various social networking sites about their film. “Sobra kaming natutuwa sa lahat ng reviews. Sobrang nakakataba ng puso sa Twitter, sa Instagram. Yung ibang artista pinuri nila so we’re all happy,” he related.
Apart from the distinct treatment employed in the film by Direk Erik and the compelling script penned by Michiko Yamamoto, Gerald said he believes that it’s the film’s relevance to current events in the society that has endeared it to its viewers.
The Fil-American star also hoped that OTJ would pave the way for more action films for him. “Sana sana, it could be a start of a new [era] for the Philippine Cinema. I mean may nabasa nga akong comment na parang nagbigay buhay ulit kami. Hindi lang sa action kundi yung mga ganong klase [quality] ng films,” he said.
First Hero Ball
Coming right on the heels of his film’s success, Gerald has opted to give back to the community by mounting a charity basketball game attended by his celebrity friends for the benefit of Hero Foundation, an organization aiming to provide secured and consistent educational support for children of soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Derek Ramsay headed Team Army, which was composed of JC De Vera, Marco Alcaraz, Luis Alandy, Arron Villaflor, Joross Gamboa, John Hall, Jhong Hilario, and pro-baller James Martinez, who was drafted into the PBA by Ginebra Kings in 2011.
Gerald led Team Marine, which included Enrique Gil, Rayver Cruz, Joseph Marco, John Prats, Matt Evans, Jose Sarasola, Young JV, Joe Black, Gerard Acao, and Lance Christopher.
“Wala, wala kaming ganon kanina eh. Kumbaga nagsama sama kami for a cause you know to help the Hero Foundation. Lahat sila naglaro for free, GMA artist, ABS-CBN, TV5 and I’m just very thankful that I have good friends who will help me with this cause for the Hero Foundation,” enthused the Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin actor.
The OTJ actor revealed that the interest to help the Hero Foundation came at a very unlikely time when he saw an ad of the organization while watching a film in the cinema. But it was his childhood dream of becoming a soldier and the organization’s cause that actually cemented his idea of really getting involved with the organization.
“Pangarap ko rin kasi maka-graduate ng college pero hindi ko nagawa kasi siyempre nag-artista ako kaagad. So kahit papaano nakita ko sila yung mga bata at ang sarap [ng feeling] na alam ko makakapagaral sila kahit papapaano dahil nakatulong yung event,” he added.
Aside from his fans and friends, also present to give support to Hero Ball was his girlfriend Maja Salvador, whom Gerald approached and kissed during the halftime break. To this, the press asked him if Maja’s presence added a little more inspiration for his already skilled basketball performance. “Alam mo yung inspiration na yan tsaka yung inspiration ng mga bata pantay eh,” he quipped.
He continued, “Nakita ko sila, tsaka yung iba nakakuha ng scholarship because of this event so isipin mo they get to go to school because kaming mga celebrities nag-basketball lang kami so malaking bagay yan. Tsaka sports is the best eh. Kumbaga minsan ako nung down ako at may mga trials sa buhay, may mga challenges I always go to sports like basketball kasama ng mga kaibigan ko.”
In the end Team Marine won against Team Army with a score of 82-76.
Can the public expect more charity projects from him now that his first hands-on event became a success? “Of course, of course. Hindi naman kailangan na basketball lang eh kasi even them they have their own events na I can always go to. I’m an ambassador and gusto kong panindigan yun with them kahit na maliit na tulong man yun,” he ended.