Manila Mayor Isko Moreno has been chosen by the family of Andres Bonifacio to play the hero in a legacy film project that reveals new discoveries on the life of the fallen revolutionary leader.
The announcement was relayed to ABS-CBN News Friday by the movie’s director Erik Matti and producer Dondon Monteverde of Regal Entertainment.
Susan Meyer, great granddaughter of Filipino hero Andres Bonifacio, said Moreno is the right choice to portray her great grandfather in the movie which has “May Pag-asa” as its working title.
“Alam kong maka-Bonifacio si Yorme at nadarama din niya ang mga ipinaglaban ni Lolo Andres noon. Sa tingin ko magaling din siya umarte,” she said, citing other parallelisms in the lives of Bonifacio and the Manila mayor who both hail from Tondo.
Meyer is descended from Bonifacio’s sister Espiridiona who also joined the Katipunan, according to historical accounts.
Moreno told ABS-CBN News Friday that he was honored to be selected by the Bonifacio family and the filmmakers. He also expressed surprise that he beat other personalities, who were shortlisted for the role which supposedly included Dingdong Dantes, Alden Richards and Vico Sotto.
“I’m grateful to them. It’s going to be challenging dahil mahirap pantayan ang galing ng tulad kay Bonifacio," said Moreno. “It’s a very challenging task. I hope I can live up to the expectation at mabigyan ko ng justice ang pelikula."
“Marami akong mga hugot na hugot din ni Bonifacio, ang pagsisikap, hirap ng buhay at pakikisalamuha sa mga tao, sakto,” he added.
“Aside from their physical resemblance, both were theater actors who hailed from Tondo, Manila. And just like Moreno, the hero’s father, Santiago Bonifacio, was a former Manila mayor," said Matti.
Meyer also recalled that two years ago, even before Monteverde and Matti thought of producing the new Bonifacio movie, Moreno’s first order of business on the first month of his tenure as the local chief executive of Manila was to clean up and restore the Bonifacio Shrine beside the Manila City Hall.
“Nagpasalamat talaga ako kay Yorme kasi inuna niyang linisin ang Bonifacio Shrine noong umupo siya. Nakakalungkot kasi ang nangyari, puro basura at tinayuan ng perya. Parang nababoy ito. Pero napaganda ni Yorme ulit. Nakaka-touch talaga,” said Meyer.
She also hopes that the Bonifacio Shrine in Maragondon, Cavite, the site of the hero’s martyrdom, will also be preserved by the local government.
Matti said the movie will reveal new details about Bonifacio’s colorful life and his final days.
“We want to be able to tell a story about Bonifacio that hasn’t been taught in schools and has never been seen in the many Bonifacio movies made in the past. And we want to make this particular Bonifacio movie relevant to the year 2021,” he said.
“We are ready to work hard and make a piece of cinema that’s worth experiencing without the feeling of being lectured.”
Based on new unearthed information, the film will attempt to lift the mystery surrounding the circumstances of Bonifacio’s death 124 years ago.
“For instance, we found out that there are two Bonifacio lapida or tombstones in Cavite -- one dated April 1897, the other one May 1897,” Monteverde told ABS-CBN News in a previous interview.
Up to now, there’s no definitive account of Bonifacio’s death, with several historians contesting the details of his supposed execution in Maragondon, Cavite.
Monteverde cited the immense effort in distilling and fact-checking information on the life of Bonifacio. “We have a main team of four writers working on it, plus other researchers at Regal Entertainment,” he said.
The life of Bonifacio had been previously tackled on the silver screen by the late director Mario O’Hara in “Ang Paglilitis ni Andres Bonifacio" in 2010 starring Alfred Vargas; in the 2012 indie film “Supremo” produced and starred in Vargas; and the 2014 Metro Manila Film Festival Best Picture “Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo” starring Robin Padilla and directed by Enzo Williams.