TFC News

Two Filipino Canadians star in new series about Magellan

Rowena Papasin | TFC News Vancouver

Posted at Jul 06 2022 08:27 PM

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It's been more than 500 years since Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan came to the shores of Cebu in 1521.

And now, Magellan’s exploits as an explorer has been made into a mini-series entitled 'Boundless.' The show includes his voyage to the Philippines where he met Cebu chieftain Rajah Humabon and Mactan Datu Lapulapu.

The role of Lapulapu, the Philippines’ first hero, is played by Toronto-based actor Armando Alera.

"I get to be someone who's so iconic to our culture. What an honor and a privilege," Alera said. He added that he had to go through an intense workout to get in shape for his role.

"I was at the gym maybe five, six days a week for about three hours a day. Then after that, I do a second session of something else. And that was just to get aesthetically ready to get in fight shape. I have an extensive fighting background. So it was already a joy to work with the choreographers."

Meanwhile, Lapulapu's rival Humabon is played by Vancouver-based actor Jason Asuncion. Asuncion admitted that he got nervous when he learned that the series will also star top-caliber European actors. The show was directed by Simon West who megged films like 'Con Air,' 'Tomb Raider,' and 'The Expendables.'

"I saw who will play Magellan - Santoro from Westworld, and he played a God-King in the 300 and then El Cano who's played by Alvaro Morte, who's The Prof in Money Heist, then I got nervous. I got excitedly nervous," Asuncion shared.

The mini-series was based on the chronicles of Antonio Pigafetta, and told from the point of view of the Philippines' Spanish colonizers.

Humabon is depicted as a cunning politician who agreed to do trade with Magellan while Lapulapu is the chieftain who killed Magellan and ended the Spaniard's quest of circumnavigating the world.

But Alera and Asuncion stressed that they don’t believe Filipinos were portrayed negatively in the series. 

"Humabon was never depicted as a villain even in history. He was a leader that sought out the advantage of his people," Asuncion said.

For his part, Alera noted, "I didn't see us as villains. We were just the other side of the coin... The way that we're portrayed is fierce and strong, and a fighting spirit, a warrior's heart, and I truly appreciate that we get to be seen in this light, proudly."

When the series premiered in Spain this year, Alera walked the red carpet with other cast members led by Rodrigo Santoro, the actor who played Magellan.

Alera and Asuncion are hopeful that the Amazon Prime production will raise the profile of Filipino Canadian actors in the film industry.

"Especially to be directed by Simon West, and to be with international actors... it will lift up the Filipino presence in Hollywood," Asuncion said.

Alera added, "Even if we opened the door, just a little bit, for us to break in just a little bit more, some other Filipino or whatever, I'm so proud of that."

'Boundless' is now streaming on Amazon Prime Spain, Portugal and the U.K.