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John Arcilla is proud to play one of history's most misunderstood heroes

The “Heneral Luna” star talks about his most challenging movie role to date.

BY RHEA MANILA SANTOS

Twitter: @allaboutmanila

FRESH SCOOPS

8/17/2015 9:29 AM
John Arcilla is proud to play one of history's most misunderstood heroes


081715-johna_main.jpgHaving played numerous national heroes on stage, multi-awarded actor John Arcilla revealed playing the role of General Antonio Luna in the historic epic Heneral Luna has been both a challenge and a big honor.

Siya lang ang nag-iisang Filipino sa panahon niya na totoong openly nagsasabi na ang mga Amerikano ay mananakop at hindi kaibigan. Very openly siyang sinasabi yun. Kaya I think that's one of the reasons kaya siya napagkainitan at saka wala siyang pulitika. Misunderstood lang talaga siya dahil sa temper niya. Yun yung tinatawag na tragic flaw kasi napagkamalan siyang may sabit pero hindi. Kung may sabit ito, nag-amok na siya, ang dami na niyang pinatay, pero wala. Bad publicity. I think black propaganda. I think he was intense and temperamental according to the books pero there are a lot of reasons. First, the “enemy” is too huge and masyadong immediate yung war eh, pagkatapos ng Spanish pasok kagad yung mga Amerikano and walang naniniwala sa kanya. And our military are not so sophisticated so kailangan niyang magpakita ng example how to be brave kasi walang time to train,” he shared during the film’s special screening for HERO Foundation held last August 10 at the The Promenade in Greenhills.

John said that bringing to life one of the country's heroes was an enlightening experience.

“I think one good thing about being an actor is that you just don't read the lines eh, you just don't read the history, you experience supposedly the experiences of the characters you are doing. So somehow na-a-assume mo kahit hindi pa ganun ka-accurate 100%, na-a-assume mo kung asan siya nakalagay, kung nasan nanggagaing yung temper, yung emotion ng isang character.  Ang nakita ko, kung taagang uncontrollable si Heneral Luna, right then and there yung mga sinasabing babarilin niya, binaril niya, pinatay niya. Pero hindi tinakot niya lang. Bina-bluff niya lang. So some of these temperaments are calculated. That's how I felt it as an actor,” he admitted.  

With the on-going special screenings of the film nationwide, John hopes Pinoys will get the true message of the film.

“Ever since kasi hindi ko inisip na artista lang ako eh. I'm a citizen of a nation, I'm a citizen of this country so kahit artista ka meron kang responsibilidad sa bayan mo. Sana pag-isipan natin bilang isang Filipino na kung ano ang gobyernong meron tayo ay tayo ay may gawa nun at magbabago lamang ang ating bansa kung tayong mga Filipino ang maging responsible bilang isang Filipino at bilang isang Filipinong pumipili ng mamumuno sa atin. My dream and my wish is sana after so many generations, yung mga anak natin sana manuod pa rin ng ganitong klaseng pelikula pero sasabihin nila na, 'Yun ang Pilipinas noon, salamat na lang at hindi na ngayon.' Sana ganun ang mangyari.”

One of the more tender moments in the movie is John's love scene with Mylene Dizon.

Masaya ang eksena. Yun lang ang eksenang may babae sa eksena (laughs). Meron ding sundalong babae pero yun yung pinakamagandang may intimacy lang na eksena. Very professional siya. She's very candid, she can be very witty,” he recalled.

John also said Paulo Avelino's role is pivotal in a sense that it could open up the possibility of another national hero movie.

“Siya si Gregorio Del Pilar. Pero cameo lang yun. I think may plano atang magkaroon ng parang pelikula naman tungkol sa kanya.”

The Heneral Luna star also had nothing but high praises for the movie's director Jerrod Tarog.

“For me, Jerrold Tarog is a very young, organized and very good director. Masarap siyang katrabaho. Isipin mo, comparable sa mga international films ito kasi cast of thousands ito ha pero he doesn't even yell at all. Pag na-le-late na or merong problema sa set sasabihin ang niya, '(groan) Kelan tayo mag-uumpisa?' Mga ganun pa-simple (laughs). I would want to work with him again. Alam niya kung anong gusto niya bilang isang director. Walang cheche buretche, pag nakuha na niya yung gusto niya, tapos. Hindi siya kukuha ng ilang beses tapos mamimili dun. Ganun ka-simple,” he said.

Heneral Luna also stars Arron Villaflor, Joem Bascon, Archie Alemania, Alex Medina, Art Acuña, Mon Confiado, Epy Quizon, Bing Pimentel, Mylene Dizon, Alvin Anson, Nonie Buencamino, Lorenz Martinez, Leo Martinez and Ketchup Eusebio, with the special participation of Paulo Avelino.